“the North was created by a fear of numbers and re-igniting that fear won’t create a united Ireland”

I’ll being putting together my own thoughts on our seminar on the future of nationalism, which was ably convened and chaired by Irish News Political Correspondent John Manley. But for now, this from on of the principle speakers Tom Kelly in his column in today’s paper:

There is clear evidence that the nationalist vote in Northern Ireland has declined whilst the demographic evidence points to a growing Catholic population.

The fight is definitely on for both unionism and nationalism to set out their stalls for what is the best way forward either to remain within the UK or join up with a United Ireland.

But the solution does not lie in numbers alone- the North was created by a fear of numbers and re-igniting that fear won’t create a united Ireland. The Belfast Agreement affirmed the supremacy of the ballot box and the Irish parliamentary tradition over militant force.

The 1916 commemorations should be seen in the context of their time and not as justification for the aftermath of the Civil war or the Troubles.

The SDLP will not as some think die away. When Adams and McGuinness finally depart the electoral scene, there will be no iconic figures left from the era of the Civil Rights or the Troubles and to be frank this is necessary if we are to move away from divisions based on the turmoil created by the protagonists of that time.

Fionnuala O’Connor once wrote a book called ‘Catholics in Search of a State’ but based on the electoral and demographic statistics since 1998 and the achievement of full equality, it would seem for the moment anyhow, that many nationalists were looking for a place in the State and aren’t too bothered to look outside of it. And therein is the challenge.

  • Croiteir

    The reality is that the north institutionalised sectarianism, it was formed by a sectarian headcount and it will end by a sectarian headcount, nationalism did not accept the Irish parliamentary tradition over physical force. No one sat down and said on the eve of the GFA vote” will I vote for the supremacy of the Irish Parliamentary tradition or physical force?”. Physical force had acknowledged its defeat by then and all was over bar the shouting. Irish parliamentary tradition, (whatever that is), had also accepted defeat by accepting the principle of consent, which legitimised partition and criminalised all those who had fought against it. In short the GFA was a complete capitulation of the Irish position and acceptance of the British position. What the people voted for in the GFA was and end to the violence of the last 30 years, no embroidery of it in fanciful political speak needed. They were sold a pup.

  • chrisjones2

    They were not sold a pup.

    They were sold the best deal they could get after military defeat of the IRA and the recognition by the leadership that they could not succeed by force And it was a generous deal. And we all voted en masse for it

    The big problem republicans have is that they want a UI whereas the majority of the rest of us don’t. Go figure.

  • Croiteir

    who are us?

  • chrisjones2

    The population in NI

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well said comments from Tom, of course no one should be afraid of numbers in general or broader mathematics regardless of their politics.

    If we wish to not overgeneralize things, it’s fair to say politics can’t be detached from Statistics, even the word Statistics derives from the term for a state.

  • Croiteir

    Ah the ones that are scared of democracy

  • barnshee

    Voting not to join is not democratic?

  • Croiteir

    Only if you contrive the boundaries based on a sectarian headcount, another word could be used rather than democracy – gerrymander.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think it would be naive to assume when you divide an island in two and the population of one part has a majority Catholic population, and the other has a majority Protestant population that a sectarian motivation and institutionalization played its part in the partition of the island.

    However, Irish republicans celebrate the brave Protestant men who contributed to their cause, an Ireland that was envisioned by Church of Ireland members and Irish Presbyterian members as was by the Irish Catholic members, why is there a reliance of sectarian unities and sectarian divisions to achieve it.

    Politics changed and “majoritarianism” strength in numbers, marginalization of the outsider became the lazy-default position for both unionism and nationalism.

    If the absence partition, and of a line on the map, still required the need for a “United Ireland” movement, why is it assumed that ending partition by a sectarian headcount will lead to the “United Ireland” they dreamed about?

    The one thing we should learn from the United Irishmen, is that people were “partitioned” on this island before partition came into force.

    If Irish nationalism, (and I say this as an Irish nationalist), cannot be mature enough to accept some responsibility for partition, then it will never solve the issue of partition, particularly the tragedy of the “partitioning of people” on this island, which is more than just about a line on a map, or where politicians and tax money get sent to.

  • murdockp

    It is worse that this, the NI Republicans want a United Ireland that is completely different to the current Irish Republic. They want a Marxist communist state which no one in ROI wants.

    We seem to use words to describe United Ireland and Irish Republic as everyone wanting the same thing.

    Personally I don’t want to live in a communist state, the sooner Irish People wake to up the cult of SF, the better.

  • chrisjones2

    On that basis if the UK in 1922 had voted to retain Ireland in the UK it would have been Democratic then?

    And who do I remember saying ” A Catholic Ireland for a catholic people” and letting the Catholic Archbishop veto legislation

  • barnshee

    “In short the GFA was a complete capitulation of the Irish position and acceptance of the British position. What the people voted
    for in the GFA was and end to the violence of the last 30 years, no embroidery of it in fanciful political speak needed. They were sold a pup.”

    Partition was never meant to last– I commend the speech by
    George V at opening of NI parliament – its essentially BUGGER off and sort this out yourselves.

    The failure to do so is largely -tho not exclusively -on the the republican side with a total failure to grasp the fundamental fact that its opponent was not the British Government —who would love to see the back of the NI problem– but the northern Prod.

    There were a series of failures in “sub strategies” and events which republicans had no control over

    1 The “republic” failed to recognise that force was a counter productive stategy and colluded at the various IRA campaigns

    2 They failed totally to counter the old home rule/rome rule propaganda by er implementing “rome rule” Treatment of the Prod in the ROI was shameful

    3 NI was “(to an extent at least) “rescued” by WW2 when it came in handy for military bases.and the like.

    4 The rise of the British welfare state dented the attraction of a UI especially when economic failure in the ROI produced waves of emigration -to of all places —England.

    In short- instead of kicking the feet out from the Ulster prod- a notoriously obdurate and stubborn creature- republicans did everything they could to confirm his position.

    (The dangers to the AFM prod come not from SF and its familiars but with the election of people like Mary Robinson as president in the ROI —a course swiftly undone by the election of her successor)

  • barnshee

    So the majority of of Scots vote to leave the UK but the majority in the UK insist they stay -who is scared of democracy?

    (SF usually keep quiet about Scotland – the precedent of the northern part of an island voting to disassociate itself from the rest has uncomfortable resonances for SF)

  • james

    It is interesting how adept Irish Republicans are at making their own tactics which they ostensibly deplore in others.

  • mickfealty

    Well done everyone. Way, way off the point.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    No one sat down and said on the eve of the GFA vote” will I vote for the supremacy of the Irish Parliamentary tradition or physical force?”

    A lot of nationalists will tell you that in supporting the GFA they were “voting for peace”. That’s a simpler way of saying “parliamentary tradition over physical force”. I’m not sure what “parliamentary tradition” even means, a better term IMO would be “ballot box”.

  • willieric

    The first overtures were made in 1986 when the leaders of the Irish insurgents realised that their cause was losing ground due mainly to infiltration by undercover members of the British forces combined with defections within their own ranks, not to mention international unease at their brutal methods.
    In due time Blair brokered a series of secret deals to release the IRA major players from jail and into salaried positions to turn them away from mass murder and into a gerry mandered Assembly which has proved ineffectual to date. See..petitions of concern.
    There is no doubt that the people who morphed into countless MLA’s, SPADs, salaried ‘Community workers’, on the nationalist side benefitted most from the GFA.
    All this under the laughable ruse of de-commissioning which Lord Nelson would have seen through.

  • Gingray

    barnshee if the majority of scots had voted to leave the UK, but the border regions had firmly rejected it, would you have been in favour of partitioning Scotland?

  • tmitch57

    Irish nationalism defined itself in terms that naturally excluded the Protestant population of Ulster: Gaelic, Celtic, and Catholic. Then when those who don’t fit this definition decide to opt out it is deemed sectarianism and anti-democratic. If one looks at the actions of Irish republicans over the decades it is evident that the last thing they want is a united Ireland, but rather fascist rule over the Catholic population in both Northern Ireland and the Republic,.

    If republicans really wanted a united Ireland they would start with the proposition that Protestant unionists consider themselves to be part of another nation and another nationalist tradition. They would then think of how to accommodate that tradition within a united Ireland and what advantages there might be to joining a united Ireland for unionists. But instead it is all about finishing the Irish nationalist state-building project. It is another missionary project by those who may have rejected the Church, but repeat its methods.

  • chrisjones2

    Is it really Mick?

    You said “And therein is the challenge.” and I agree completely because while the political classes are obsessed by the constitutional issue as a n electoral dog whistle – for anything else requires thought and effort – there are signs that the rest of us just want to live in peace with each other. And that is positive

  • chrisjones2

    I totally disagree. Everyone I spoke to at the time saw themselves as voting for peace – for the violence to stop

  • barnshee

    Most of Scots are in the border regions north of the Glasgow Edinburgh axis Scotland is largely empty

  • Gingray

    Mick, what Tom and many others forget it that nationalism in Ireland, and around the world, has always went through spells of being content with the status quo, to being more in favour of change. With time perhaps the two communities in Northern Ireland can become closer, but the simple fact is that one community is going to go from a position of primacy to being smaller.

    And when that happens it will only take events to trigger a pro Ireland sentiment among the majority community – perhaps Britain goes to war again, perhaps the Irish football team do well, perhaps the UK leaves the EU, or perhaps the Irish economy is booming.

    But whatever happens, history has shown that nationalism generally triumphs, while unions of nations generally fall apart without strong leadership.

    Regardless, when it does come, we have progressed as a people I think that the new nation state will be founded on the basis of equality for all groups and respect for traditions.

  • Gingray

    Oh look, you are too cowardly to answer the question. Pointless engaging with trolls

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    “There is clear evidence that the nationalist vote in Northern Ireland
    has declined whilst the demographic evidence points to a growing
    Catholic population.” Do the traditional sectarian headcounts really indicate the direction of self determination any longer? The decline in people declaring themselves as ‘Protestant’ has brought no rise to so called ‘nationalism’ in the wee 6. So where are we?
    ‘Catholics in Search of a State’ was once historically true but is no longer necessary.
    Does nationalism still mean desirous of a UI? Or is the wee 6’s nationalism a loose, theoretical sentiment similar to that which has organically evolved across much of Europe post Maastricht Treaty? If so, that would bring about the erosion of its more fervent pursuit and the belief in its ineluctability particularly considering the relative stability that most of us presently enjoy.
    In any case OUR nationalism needs to overcome its end in itself approach and sell it on a means to a greater end much of which many pro UI adherents seem oblivious to. This has to be sold in both adminstrations and has to be less didactic, radical and dramatic than anything that SF has come up with so far – but hey, they need their outright victory some time. We would, after all, benefit from everyone adopting a relaxed economic and adminstrative ‘swings and roundabouts’ attitude to begin with. Strengthening existing and introducing new cross border insititutions of all sorts could help overcome many of the fears of many of the die by my own sword first Unionists. But then what’s the future of that sort of Unionism? There’s not been much success in selling a UI there.

  • Gingray

    You really don’t think the terms Gaelic or Celtic could be applied to the descendents of the Scottish planters?

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    We are the last corner of Ireland where the tragedy of being trapped by our past still persists. If only fings hadda went diffurnt, like.

  • barnshee

    Arithmetic old chap the border region = most Scots
    However should a significant .no Scots in the area adjacent to England wish to remain associated with England I would certainly wish to facilitate them

  • Croiteir

    The English would be in that scenario of course

  • John Collins

    Oh you are up to your old tricks again. ‘the treatment of the Prod in ROI was shameful’
    Was it overall? In West Cork and Cloncusse and a few more places yes, However there was no massive clearances out of sites of employment of what you refer to disrespectfully as ‘prods’ like their was of Roman Catholics out of ship yard jobs in Belfast. As late as the late seventies Catholics were told by their Union Reps to leave their well paid jobs in the ship yards ‘for their own safety’. However times had moved on and the Government of the day stepped in and stopped this form of intimidation. Not before time. By contrast in the awful Southern state the first RC clerical officer in Guinnesses Brewery was not employed until 1953 and their was no big issue made of this. The same applied in other Protestant owned firms
    We elected two Protestant Presidents. Tell me again how Catholic Prime Ministers has there been in the North?. We elected a Jewish Lord Mayor of Dublin and an absolutely splendid Presbyterian Mayor of Limerick, Frances Condell. Of her welcoming speech in Limerick Racecourse in ,63 JFK said it was the finest address he had received in his tour of a number of European capitals.
    You say the Republic colluded in violence towards the North. Well De Velera had IRA men executed in the forties and he also put internment in place in the Curragh in Kildare. Police and personnel gave their lives combating The Ira. A strange way of colluding with and certainly never to the extent so called ‘security forces’ colluded with Loyalists terrorists in the North.
    You go on about the GB welfare state. Well OAPS and indeed other welfare recipients are at least as well looked after here and OAPS had free travel about twenty years before counterparts in the UK had it.
    What was so wrong about electing Mary McAleese. Herself and her husband have done more for the peace process in the North than the likes of You or I will ever do. Having said that Mary Robinson was indeed a fine President. When can we expect a lady as Prime Minister in NI of equal calibre to these two fine ladies? I think ye have a bit of catching up to do there. And as far as Gay Rights are concerned I won’t even go there

  • Gingray

    Goading you makes you answer the question then. Interesting.

    Ah right, see if you knew Scotland you would know the borders and D&G regions are not heavily populated, and indeed contain lots of people of English descent.

    But let’s focus on what you are saying – you think that if a minority of people don’t agree with a democratic decision they can break away.

    Are you only anti democratic on constitutional issues, or would you allow significant ethnic minorities to do their own thing, some parts to leave the EU, some to go to war?

    I suppose it difficult when we live in a place that was established by the descendents of colonists who couldn’t accept the democratic mandate of the native majority.

  • Zig70

    It’s all a bit nuts. We never won our countries freedom, we yakked until the bully neighbour threw it back with a bit broken off and we fought over it even more. There is a bit of honesty in the Irish that know the soldiers song is a bit misleading. Added to that, unity is already here in the northern psychosis. We are as Irish as any southerner, passport and all. Our mammies have told us so for years. You can’t make people yearn for what they already think they have. The numbers are already here to win a vote what is missing is a reason why you should be bothered. The non voters are generally the Catholic middle class, who see the unionists as an odd bunch, banned from ruling alone and hamstrung on the hill that is irrelevant to everyone. I still think the rise of SF will force FF and maybe even FG to court northern nationalists and the feeling of being wanted is a powerful emotion.

  • barnshee

    I tend to support ethnic minorities going their own way if they so wish a sort of free choice thing

  • barnshee

    Prod pop of the republic 3%

    number of Gard prods 1

    You clearly missed
    “Partition was never meant to last– I commend the speech by George V at opening of NI parliament – its essentially BUGGER off and sort this out yourselves.

    The failure to do so is largely -tho not exclusively -on the the republican side with a total failure to grasp the fundamental fact that its opponent was not the British Government —who would love to see the back of the NI problem– but the northern Prod.

    There were a series of failures in “sub strategies” and events which republicans had no control over

    1 The “republic” failed to recognise that force was a counter productive stategy and colluded at the various IRA campaigns

    2 They failed totally to counter the old home rule/rome rule propaganda by er implementing “rome rule” Treatment of the Prod in the ROI was shameful

    3 NI was “(to an extent at least) “rescued” by WW2 when it came in handy for military bases.and the like.

    4 The rise of the British welfare state dented the attraction of a UI especially when economic failure in the ROI produced waves of emigration -to of all places —England.

    In short- instead of kicking the feet out from the Ulster prod- a notoriously obdurate and stubborn creature- republicans did everything they could to confirm his position.

    Just in case you missed it

  • Freedom2Disqus

    Northern Ireland has natural resources British government needs.

  • Gingray

    Ah right, so regardless of the democratic process, you support an ill defined ethnic based system of rule.

    So if the majority of people in London end up being Muslim, you would support them going their own way?

    Or if Northern Ireland voted for a reunited Ireland, you would support partitioning off antrim and parts of derry, down and armagh say?

  • chrisjones2

    Of course they cant be defeated. That’s why they achieved their objectives and here we are:

    * still in the UK
    * with significant numbers of Catholics in Polls saying they would vote for remaining in the UK
    * no substantial violence from PIRA for almost 15 years
    * they have allegedly gone away
    * we have a new Stormont Local Council
    * all its legislation must be signed off by a British Queen
    * its benches are well polished by well paid SF MLAs all paid in British Pounds
    * its SF Ministers travel in British Funded Cars to British Funded events
    * its budgets are set within British Treasury rules
    * its powers are devolved from the Mother Parliament in London and may be taken back if our MLAs don’t sensibly exercise them

    Yes…a true victory for PIRA!!!

    You know you are on a loser when you have to rely on Tony Blair as your witness!

  • chrisjones2

    Thats all a myth. We are all intermingled. There is no genetic difference.

    We have all been sleeping with each other for generations and the differences are invented and sustained by politicians on the make

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Such as?

  • 37.2% of northern Catholics in 2011 Census make no mention of Irish on the question of their identity, instead opting for British (10.3%) or Northern Irish (26.9%).

    The northern numbers game is not as it was, something I think some Irish nationalists are in denial of.

  • Freedom2Disqus

    If Northern Ireland does have natural resources or any geographical advantage why would British still maintain power in that region?? Beyond Catholic and Protestant Religions and political needs. My point is, it must be more than that religion.

  • mary

    Ok, United what whatever. I live in Ireland over 20 years, never killed for that, just packed my bags moved across.
    What is the benefits of United Ireland in my opinion none.
    work none!
    my electric bills every 8 weeks
    food costly!
    No free health services.
    No street lights.
    no free bins services.
    Pay for house taxes
    car insurance through the roof -taxes.
    Health services 3 world
    so Martin Gerry and your cults stop misleading your fools.
    what is the benefits of your United Ireland?
    Apart from lovely place????

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well you could at least offer a few suggestions.
    Back then, there was a group of people who didn’t want to leave the UK. Furthermore, their upper class was joined at the hip with the British upper class.
    The old boy network was quite the thing back then.

  • William Carr

    the big question is; what in reality have the last 40 odd years been about? the (for want of a better term) CNR community were second class citizens in their own country, the civil rights movement was a loose cross community grouping looking for peaceful change few inside it had a united Ireland as the goal.
    Unionists who where willing to compromise came under attack from those unionists unwilling to compromise as did civil rights marchers, the UVF started a bombing and murder campaign which accumulated in the house burning s of 69 and the largest refugee movement in Europe since WW2.
    In the face of ongoing unionist violence and a refusal to tolerate any form of change the CNR community turned to the hard men for protection, this trend was reinforced by continued unionist opposition to any change ( Sunningdale and the UWC strike for example) and the continued links between the mainstream Unionist parties and the loyalist terror groups (which still exist to this day) convinced many of the CNR community (wrongly ) that violence was the way forward in a monkey see monkey do manner.
    It is my belief that while most nationalists would be inclined towards a UI it is very far down their list of priority’s however the continued causal sectarianism of unionists forces many nationalists towards SF of course since these things feed of each other many unionists are forced towards the UUP/DUP/TUV and their loyalist partners by the actions of SF.
    The hatred that both sets of extremists have for “letsgetalongists” is a example of the fear that the unreasonable have towards any form of compromise, and the ability of these extremists to spread fear among their own community holds back progress causing both Nationalists and unionists to move towards the extremes.

  • Paddy Reilly

    the demographic evidence points to a growing Catholic population, that is true. But that there is clear evidence that the nationalist vote in Northern Ireland has declined is a misinterpretation of the data.

    30 years ago, Alliance was a Unionist party which encouraged Catholics to join, the equivalent of NI21 today. Now it is agnostic on the Union and has greatly increased its vote. In PR polls, 1st pref Alliance voters transfer either to the UUP, or SDLP or to nowhere. So all that has happened is that some Nationalist leaning people, who formerly voted SDLP 1, Alliance 2, now vote Alliance 1 SDLP 2. This is all good and moderate, and a similar number of UUP voters have done the same. (The same is true of Green Party voters.)

    Alliance has become a partially Nationalist party. But in crucial votes these Nationalist leaning Alliance voters will come down, ever so moderately and wholly non-violently, on the Nationalist side of an issue. Which is all we require.

  • Paddy Reilly

    It’s all a bit like Hong Kong in 1996 isn’t it. Those silly Chinese Communist type chappies have submitted to our Great British Queen.

  • barnshee

    See above I support the wishes of ethnic groups for separation where they wish it a sort of free choice thing I support the right of the Irish to remove themselves from the UK I expect the same support for those who decline inclusion in the ROI

  • Paddy Reilly

    Yes, but in West Belfast 21.50% of people stated that they were British and 22.4% Northern Irish, yet Unionists were not able to win a single Stormont seat, which requires at most 14.28% of the electorate on your side.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Paddy,

    The Nationalist vote in Northern Ireland has declined at every recent election cycle. To argue that some Alliance votes are “really” Nationalist is simply wishful thinking.

    Of course, we don’t know for sure how they (or anyone) would vote come a constitutional referendum. But such polling evidence as there is suggests that there are more pro-Union referendum votes among those who support Nationalist parties at election time than there are pro-United Ireland votes among thse who don’t!

    By the way, remind me what happened with your prediction that there was no way Unionists could win two seats and lose none at the recent election?

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Do the traditional sectarian headcounts really indicate the direction of self determination any longer?

    No.

  • Gingray

    Whats a myth? I agree that I dont think there is much difference between those who are ethnically Irish, Scottish or English. But the terms Gaelic and Celtic are embraced by various peoples across the UK and Ireland – the Welsh play in the Celtic League, while the Scots goverment publish in Gaelic.

    If people in NI want to dismiss that aspect of their heritage, thats fine, its their loss, there is enough room for those who want to be little englanders.

  • Gingray

    Chris, you could be right, the IRA definitely did not win or achieve their aims. Not sure the British did either tho, and I am not sure that Unionism, which was forced to share power, did either.

    Everyones a winner, and everyones a loser seems more appropriate.

  • Gingray

    Ah, back to avoiding the question.

    Its ok barnshee, you have firmly established that you only support democracy when it delivers the message you want. These guys have a similar view to you:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3038508/Preparing-race-war-South-African-white-supremacist-bootcamps-training-thousands-youths-fight-blacks-create-apartheid-state.html

    The BNP and Ku Klux Klan hold similar views – that ethnicity tops democracy.

  • Spike

    Perhaps people of nationalist persuasion don’t see there is credible alternative to SF as SDLP have gone quiet. Perhaps the UI question is a simple matter of people with huge debts/mortgages hanging over their heads (something nationalist didn’t really have 30 years ago) are too worried about what would happen if they upset the apple cart. people with nothing to lose will certainly accept change more easily. Perhaps in this modern age the marketing/social media of ‘Northern Ireland’ has convinced some nationalists they are ‘northern irish’ . Always amazed me how on foreign holidays everyone from Ulster was irish but when we got back home unionist were suddenly British or northern irish. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…..

  • Paddy Reilly

    To argue that some Alliance votes are “really” Nationalist is simply wishful thinking.

    Not at all. Wishful thinking would be if I argued that all Alliance votes were covertly Nationalist. I only do it in respect of those that transfer to the SDLP.

    If you give your 1st preference (i.e. Assembly) vote to Alliance in South Down or West Tyrone or anywhere west of the Bann you are simply making a “Letsallgetalongerist” point. Your effective vote is for whomever you give your next preference to, unless it is Green.

    In Euro elections, voting for Alliance makes a point, but it does not elect a candidate. Your effective vote is for whomever you vote for next.

    (Flann O’Brien describes a Southern Irishman coming out of a poll in the time of the Free State and muttering to himself “Well I suppose it had to be done, but God be with the times of me dead leader, Parnell.” That is what giving a 1st pref to Alliance means, West of the Bann, pure sentiment. You might as well put Brian Boru as a write-in candidate.)

    So there are Nationalist leaning Alliance voters, as there are Unionist leaning ones. There is also a minority of purely Alliance voters, who refuse to transfer to anyone.

    But what I actually said was that in crucial votes these Nationalist leaning Alliance voters will come down, ever so moderately and wholly non-violently, on the Nationalist side of an issue. Which is all we require..

    You could demonstrate this by putting the following question to your party colleagues:-

    If there was a risk of Martin McGuinness becoming 1st Minister, would you support Alliance reclassifying as a Unionist party to prevent this?

    The Unionist coalition were very lucky to reverse a losing streak going back to the 1980s, but they did so not by any natural development of the electorate, but by careful strategy and carefully marshalled turnout. But the tendency remains, and the debt is only postponed. This means they should be in line to lose 5 candidates in the 2020 elections, if there is still a Northern Ireland in 2020.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Paddy,

    I am not a member of the Alliance Party, or of any Northern Ireland party, so I have no fellow members to consult. My sense is that they would let the votes fall where they will. That doesn’t make them either Nationalist or Unionist.

    Your entire analysis is based on dividing voters into one of two camps. I think this is a flawed paradigm which leads you to counting votes not cast for Nationalist parties as Nationalist votes. In your urge to label voters as one thing or the other, you completely miss the dynamics of what is happening in between.

    As for the European election, note that the final round SDLP vote share, after all centre ground candidates had been eliminated and SF votes transferred, was less in 2014 than in 2009 (when the SF surplus wasn’t even transferred). Even if your classification of voters was good analysis, which it isn’t, applying it to real votes cast in a real election confirms the decline in Nationalist vote share which you are trying to deny.

  • Paddy Reilly

    The first preference vote for the SDLP in the 2009 (Euros) was 78,489. The final count was 97,428.

    In 2014 it was 81,594 first pref and final count 115,277.

    There was no decline in the Nationalist vote: what actually happened was a substantial increase in the Unionist turnout, inspired by the fact that there was a real danger of a Unionist seat being lost, and with it, majority status in the Six Counties.

    It is rare for Unionist inspired turnout wars to be successful, because the other side soon get wind and act likewise. In Mid Ulster the voting percentage turned stratospheric but M. McGuinness still got in. Voting for the European Parliament has hitherto always been unenthusiastic, so in this case, the Nationalist electorate was caught unawares. Whether they will still be in 2019 remains to be seen.

    When your town is dominated by a huge, black, dangerous nuclear power station, threatening to explode, politics will always be for or against the power station, and all other issues forgotten. But if it is removed you will have to find something else to argue about.

    Similarly in Northern Ireland the Nationalist/Unionist debate eclipses all other issues, especially now, when the two sides are equalling out. But when Ireland is united there will be no Unionists, because Britain does not take back its independent overseas possessions, and there will be no Nationalists either, because there will be nothing left to achieve. We will have to argue about something else: nuclear power, perhaps.

  • tmitch57

    In modern cultural terms, no. The Ulster Scots are lowland Scots and not highland Scots. Except for a few individuals they are basically anglicized Scots not much different from Tony Blair (except in regards to their attitude towards Catholicism). Had they been highland Scots things might have worked out differently.

  • Alan N/Ards

    John, While the south had two Protestants Presidents, it was a shame that neither of them came from a unionist background. To have elected someone from the unionist minority in the south would have spoken volumes to the unionists on the island. What did speak volumes to unionists, was the refusal of the Irish government ministers to enter the protestant church for the funeral service of a former president. Thankfully, things have moved on from them.

    What I have been impressed with, is the current Irish government sending ministers to Remembrance day services in Northern Ireland. It shows a level of sensitivity to unionists and the things that we hold dear. Maybe, the Irish president will be standing at Belfast’s Cenotaph someday soon, with the tricolour being flown beside the union flag.

    Regarding the unionists who had “six votes” they were certainly not in my family. My eight uncles went off to fight in WW2 without a vote ( in council elections) and seven returned home, still without a vote. These were Shankill Rd men who seen themselves as being loyal to the Crown, yet they came to despise the Unionist party and voted labour.

    I actually have come to the point where I can say that unionism owes the nationalists of NI for the stupidity of our politicians (past and present). I’m not saying that I want an Ireland ruled from Dublin, but a bit of generosity with things like the Irish Language, and maybe being pro active in lobbying to get voting rights for nationalists in Irish presidential elections could help mend the fences a bit. Sadly, the bunch we presently have appear to be a graceless lot. But one can hope.

  • barnshee

    NI is already effectively partitioned west/east of the Bann

    ” that ethnicity tops democracy.”

    Why is an expressed wish and a clear vote by an ethnic group non democratic?

    (Try that in Slovenia Croatia Bosnia Serbia )

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Aha, so the increased Unionist vote share can be ignored, because it only happened because they got more votes. I see. Thanks.

  • Paddy Reilly

    It happened because they improved their turnout. However it is of no long term significance because the other side, once they realise what is going on, will do the same.

    I seem to recall we have had this interchange before, and not long after you made the same point.

  • John Collins

    Well said Alan and I do agree huge mistakes were made here. I think we cannot undo past mistakes on both sides. However it was just baffling to see Loyalist groups burning effigies of the Virgin, a female actually respected by true Protestants as the Mother of Christ. And then yesterday young people, who do not know the true meaning of the ‘Republican’, setting fire to Union Jacks and Poppy wreaths. More galling still is the sight of politicians, from both tradition, failing to condemn this behaviour.
    Barnshee. Protestant population is 3.8% in ROI and growing annually, not three per cent as you insist. And remember their may be other reasons than discrimination for the drop in Protestant numbers like (1)
    Protestants seem to have smaller families. If each married couple has only two or maybe three children the population this can reduce numbers. There is a declining population all over Europ due to this. It is basically the opposite of your notorious ‘TROUSER SNAKE’ argument
    (2) Protestants have a long history of emigrating off this rock and there is no reason to believe they would not have still left in significant numbers even if the British were still in charge here. It should also be noted that there was little inward emigration into the North or South before the turn of the Century
    ( Your welfare state argument just does not stand as uncles of my own returned to the republic, they previously said they despised, because the OAP was so miserable in GB and that was thirty years ago. The OAP in ROI is now £40 a week greater than in GB. Check it out and don’t continue to live in fantasy land. Social Welfare payments are also a big improvement on GBs.
    (3) The ending of big house/landlord system (and no that was not a land grab as you say. Three of my grandparents were reared on tenant farms. Each family paid for their lands by means of a 75 year loan) may have also contributed to the decline in Protestant numbers
    (4) The long tradition of Army, Naval and Colonial service which attracted generations of Protestants and certainly would have still attracted them to careers in these fields up to the time of decolonization

  • Starviking

    Well, it’s not as if there was a democratic referendum to leave the UK anyway…

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Sure. And last time you made a prediction about this year’s election that was proved wrong. For a lot of people that would make them re-examine their assumptions. Fair play to you for sticking to them despite the evidence.

  • Gingray

    Barnshee, I couldn’t disagree more but as long as the only UK party that supports your extreme anti democratic ethnic position is the BNP there should be nothing to worry about.

    Your mention of the former Yugoslavia surely undermines your ethno partition argument. When nations within that union voted to leave, each had significant, mainly Serbian, populations voting no. Do you support Croatia, Bosnia or Slovenia being partitioned?

    Interestingly for the last part to leave, Montenegro, a vote was held, 55% voted for independence, but thankfully only extreme right wing nutjobs called for ethnic partition – Serbia accepted the result.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Nicholas, because you have a site which inter alia ventures to predict the outcome of every upcoming election in every constituency, you have made many more wrong predictions than I have.

    Naomi Long’s performance was so impressive, and Tom Elliot’s minority win so narrow that I will not be looking for a new algorithm.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Actually I don’t make predictions on the site, as you’d know if you looked at it. But I’m content to leave it there.

  • Paddy Reilly

    2015 Westminster Election: East Belfast

    If cast in a six-seat Assembly election, these votes would give both the DUP and Alliance three seats.

    That is not a prediction? Please supply the semantic distinction.

    Rest assured, I access your site constantly: it is my chief enjoyment.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Sure. A prediction is about the future. The statement you quote is about a theoretical election in the past!

  • Nevin

    “the North was created by a fear of numbers” .. Tom Kelly

    Tom’s caricature is reminiscent of John Hume’s in ‘Personal Views’ [1996]:

    “… they hark back to the past and speak of the future only with fear and foreboding, a paranoia … a siege mentality, rooted in insecurity, in prejudice, in fear of domination. [page 27]

    Unionism and nationalism are broad churches and there were a variety of reasons why unionists wished the island of Ireland to remain within the UK. Unionist and nationalist commentators appear to have a limited understanding of the opposing constitutional aspiration; denigration usually trumps empathy.

    The fortunes and misfortunes of unionism and nationalism are so intertwined that the exploration of each in isolation from the other is a most curious exercise.

  • gero

    if only paddy would now, in light of said semantic distinction, reevaluate his entirely flawed logic then we might get somewhere. I’m afraid however that no amount of facts or reasoned analysis can cure a dunning- Kruger effect

  • Paddy Reilly

    So for prediction, read theoretical calculation. However, if you go back to what you call my ‘prediction’, you will find it is no such thing, it is actually a calculation of what is commonsensical.

    Changing the subject and not referring to you, I would like to point out that the North was not created by a fear of numbers. Back in the early 20th Century when the British Empire was at its height, numbers did not matter at all. The few could dominate the many. Unionists were innocent of democratic tendencies, and to a large extent still are today.

  • Croiteir

    The referendum should not have anything to do with a foreign nation. It should only be for the Irish – all of them – to decide.

  • barnshee

    I see voting in a way that displeased you is anti democratic? In a mythical UI if 20% of the pop decided to leave the 80% left would deny them the right?

  • Gingray

    Barnshee you have proposed partitioning Scotland and Northern Ireland in the event of a vote to leave the UK.

    You want to ignore the democratic process – by its very nature that’s undemocratic.

    Even in your Yugoslav analogy you got it wrong. Indeed the only groups that support your ethno partitioning are extreme south African and Serbian nutters. Good company

  • Starviking

    What has “a foreign nation” got to do with it? The Irish – all of them – did not have a democratic referendum to leave the UK.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    My word Nev, your last paragraph should be painted on a wall or something! Brilliant!

  • Starviking

    Seconded!

  • Barneyt

    I would hope that a united Ireland would bring with it a change in politics and a services mentality. It should offer more opportunities as a single island with a shared currency and single economy. It should.

    However, there is a dangerous level of political unity already between the two main unionist parties and those that have historically shaped the Republic. DUP, UUP, FG and FF(mostly) are all right of centre parties….and I have no doubt that steering a united Ireland towards a national health service, public owned and serviced infrastructure, high quality non-selective state schooling etc.. would be a very low priority if on the “to do” list at all.

    So, real politics unites unionists with the Republic more than we know. I have no doubt that a united Ireland, if it emerged, would remain on the right.

    In summary, the North would have to dovetail with the system of the Republic and bang goes the NHS. Majority Unionism however is currently not protecting the NHS and has the same national health ambitions as the GB Torys…which are very limited. They would be happy I feel to steer it towards more privatisation and no doubt, mandated health insurance. When 2020 comes around, there may be no NHS for the pro-nothern irelanders to cling on to and cite as an asset at risk through Irish reunification.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    every international border in the world is decided by ‘sectarian headcount’ in the sense that borders are surely ideally drawn so as to minimise the numbers of people having to live on the ‘wrong’ side. Which is why the Irish nationalist gripe with our border was always wrong-headed, based on preferring an objectively worse solution. A ‘united’ Ireland would have left more people on the wrong side of the border than the Northern Ireland solution did. Had they argued for the redrawing of the border to make it more accurate, different story. But that isn’t what Irish nationalism is about I guess.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “the North was created by a fear of numbers” is an odd sentence. What does that mean? I’d have thought it would be more accurate to say Northern Ireland was created out of a recognition of numbers.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Nicholas Whyte’s semantic equivocation about his not predicting anything is just that: two months ago on the Could Labour open up a Pandora’s box by standing in Northern Ireland? thread he wrote:-

    The SDLP have so far failed to wither on the vine despite many predictions (my own included). Go see: it’s still there!

    Actually the SDLP is an interesting case. It is fairly obvious that the SDLP vote in Fermanagh and South Tyrone is on a downward trajectory:-

    1998: 11,007
    2001: 9,706
    2003: 7,507
    2005: 7,235
    2007: 6,483
    2010: 3,574
    2011: 4,606
    2015: 2,732

    Withering on the vine is an appropriate metaphor. But it is a local phenomenon: it does not apply to South Down or Foyle. Equally the SF vote in Fermanagh/Sth Tyrone is going up, and with it the SF share of the Nationalist vote:-

    1998: 13,714
    2001: 17,730
    2003: 15,903
    2005: 18,638
    2007: 16,833
    2010: 21,304
    2011: 19,338
    2015: 23,076

    When it reaches 50% of the cast votes, something it is currently about 2,000 votes shy of, SF will be unassailable in Fermanagh even to the most enthusiastically pursued Pan-Unionist coalition. I don’t see the Unionist feat of 2015 as being repeatable.

    So I will not be altering my algorithm in view of Nicholas Whyte’s somewhat mendacious rhetoric. I may, by trusting the weather forecast, wrongly predict that it will rain tomorrow, but in dealing with general trends–It will get progressively colder from now till January–I can’t really go wrong.

    The general trend is that the Unionist vote is going down. It has come down and down so far that if it goes down any further its simply will not be able to apply any kind of Unionist agenda. The results of 2015 are like the last gasp of a drowning man.

  • John Collins

    There was also huge emigration out of Ireland-almost 60,000 every year from 1886 to 1900 inclusive. Population dropped by 60% in what is now ROI between 1841 and 1901-so much for the benefits of GB rule.

  • Pál Teleki

    Slovenia had very few Serbs – which is why their war with the rump Yugoslav state only lasted ~12 days.

  • John Collins

    Mary
    I spent a holiday in NI in 2013, in Scotland 2015 and Cornwall and I can assure you, and any body else it may concern, that eating out, drink or food are no cheaper in GB than in ROI (in fact for every Euro you would invest in ROI you would have to spend a Pound sterling in GB).
    As regards work, the employment rate is improving here and people from all over Europe are coming to work here. Even at the height of the recession for every five than left Ireland four came in.
    Is electricity free in GB, may be it is but petrol and diesel are certainly more expensive.
    The street lights work here for many many years. When were you here last?
    You have free bin services?? Funny that because Pearse Doherty had to admit in a debate on RTE that £1,000 (sterling) or about €1,250, is paid annually by each household for bins, water, schools etc in the North. Bins here are about €240 a year and water about €300 a year when it will be eventually paid for. Still a long way to go to a thousand pounds.
    If you shop around down here car insurance can still be quite reasonable.
    Health Service third world? Is it any worse than GBS where people have been reported as having committed suicide after failing to access services? Furthermore, GB pays its OAPs a full £40 a week less than what their counterparts in the ROI receive.
    Suffice to say Mary you seem to paint a very jaundiced view of a country you seem to know nothing about