The peace process phase is over. A new age of political progress is what we need

I hesitate just a little to criticise Peter Osborne ‘s piece on Galvanising the Peace  as I bow respectfully to the view that dialogue and contacts are essential for peace, reconciliation and development.  But we really have to move on from this sort of generalised approach to more rigorous analysis and hard questions leading to more real solutions.  We should have learned by now that yet another appeal like Galvanising the Peace won’t crack  it. It lets the political class off  the  hook.

The current political kerfuffle is dramatic evidence that this approach has not had the slightest effect on the practice of politics.  So- called  “Uncomfortable  conversations” too are all very well but they take place among basically comfortable people – even if there are more of them now than there used to be and that’s a really good thing.

Lodged in the Community Relations Council Archive are the excellent Peace Monitoring  Reports and other studies by Paul Nolan. These, the only analyses of their kind, need to be matched by strategies of equal rigour. It is quite  remarkable  that the follow through from this work is so bland. It shows how inhibited  state supported bodies can be. They need to liberate themselves and take a few more risks. Nobody  else is going to do it for them.

It’s surely clear by now that a more rigorous political analysis is needed beyond this sort of social therapy couched  in impersonal language  to avoid hitting too  close to home.

To touch on some of themes in the “ short discussion paper.”

Though I’m keen in it myself  ( but who am I?), it is  too easily assumed that a desegregated community is what’s wanted. It cannot be imposed by social engineering. Community security is currently more important.

Non- sectarian education is the big one., but  how to achieve it  by  consent? (Answers on an old fashioned  postcard please…)

On legacy issues people should be disabused of the belief that dealing with the past is mainly about  victims. It’s really about politics and history. In any case what more can most of them expect to know? The unconvicted guilty can never be named. It is also questionable  whether the past needs somehow be satisfactorily explained before we can , in the horrid phrase, move on . This is a self- imposed inhibition.

On culture, developments are more hopeful, though less by state action  than through independent initiatives  among  often young  entrepreneurs . The old fashioned  statist form of an Irish language policy should be replaced by one that actually encourages  its use.

And the most important point. Up to now “civil society”  that is,  public and private  sector leaders  have funked criticising the political  class.  If we are ever to develop this must change.  I had this dream  once  in which the whole of the public service bureaucracy took to  streets and did some shouting at Carson’s statue. When the water cannon came out, we knew we were in business…

 

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  • Pasty2012

    Yes and the DUP Need to provide answers to why they begged the UVF NOT to Call a Ceasefire in the 1990’s and WHY they have continued to have discussions and meetings with the Unionist Terrorist Groups who have continued to Murder.
    WHY have both the DUP and UUP continued to hold meetings and stand beside Unionist Terrorists who have NOT Decommissioned their weapons?
    Please explain to the World how the Unionist Party’s can continue with such activities with their own Paramilitaries and then try to claim the moral high ground and bring down the Government Assembly because a Nationalist Paramilitary which HAS Decommissioned and declared that it only supports Political actions still has some members, according to the PSNI.
    The Unionists have from the founding of the state by force of arms against the will of the Irish People, always strived to find ways to exclude Nationalists from Government and to Gerrymander every vote held to ensure Unionist Rule.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I don’t think there’s ever going to a real saddle point between a peace process and a practical progress.

    I don’t think practical progress is simply put on hold until the adversity goes away.

    You can’t say the era of preventing crime is over, the era of the war on drugs is over, I think there will always be some sort of peace process … or indeed peace maintenance needed here.

    Stormont doesn’t dictate which streets people live in, or where (or even if) parents want to send their children to school or the grace of victims.

    Stormont can change is people want to make a change, but it is the people here not Stormont who haven’t taken responsibility for it themselves.

    How many people criticizing the lack of integrated education, or the inability to choose another system that isn’t integrated actually have children, surely a parent to parent debate is more effective than childless to childless.

    How many people criticized the effect of peacewalls actually have lived among them, surely those who know the benefits outweigh the risks and those who know the risks outweigh the benefits will be more effective than those who never lived behind them.

    Sure there are economic benefits that are touted, as would be the case if every rich person were forced to marry a poor person … you could get rid of poverty by social engineering things that way… but yet we have choice.

    People don’t like forced marriages, but they do enjoy practical partnerships … getting people to hold back their own prejudices and discretion and take a leap of faith is not something that just happens.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “I had this dream once in which the whole of the Public Service Bureaucracy took to Streets and did some shouting at Carson’s Statue, when the water cannon came out, we knew we were in business” Yeah as a young boy from the back streets of Sandy Row I lay in bed at night and had the same dream ! until my mother kicked me out of bed and sent me out to work on an Early Monday morning to earn a wage and get money to hand to her every Friday Evening to support and maintain our family ! but them Water Cannons and Batten Rounds still hit me at the Weekend ! Maybe because I was a Working Class Loyalist ?

  • Peter Osborne

    Brian. Come get involved. Don’t disagree with many of your points – and it is a very short discussion paper. A starting point.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    republicans were significantly more likely to be hit by water cannons and baton rounds. Just saying.

  • eireanne

    carsons statue – that monument to failure should be knocked of its pedestal like so many others have been https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/edward-carson-1854-1935/

  • Deke Thornton

    Wasn’t he told that transubstantiation was the main issue? ‘Protestant’ terrorists having been ‘born again’ were the only true Christians. Or did he think, being a good Catholic and all, if they were Atheist or Agnostic then they were destined for purgatory. I’m guessing he wasn’t in the Gurkhas? But then I’m unaware of the courses at Sandhurst which rail against the Vatican and pre-enlightenment philosophy,

  • Deke Thornton

    Cromwell would have agreed. Although you could leave the prefixes ‘water’ and ‘baton’ aside. Good republican that he was, and all that jazz.

  • Zeno

    The job of Special Branch, the Army, The Police is to protect the State. Loyalists were not a threat to the state whereas the IRA were. That’s all that mattered.

  • Zeno

    “if every rich person were forced to marry a poor person … you could get rid of poverty by social engineering things that way… but yet we have choice.”

    Eh? The poor outnumber the rich by at least 1000/1.

  • Zeno

    Themuns are bad people. Usuns are good people. I get it.

  • Pasty2012

    No you don’t get it. Both have done wrong and neither can claim the high moral ground. Unionists however are hoping that the British Government will turn the clock back to the old days when Unionists Ruled even if it meant Gerrymandering Democracy in order to ensure Unionist Rule. Today they are pinning their hopes on the Tory’s ignoring the Democratic Vote of the vast majority of Nationalists at the ballot box by issuing some sort of decree that Sinn Fein can not take Ministerial seats. The very fact that the DUP Begged a Unionist Terrorist Organization NOT to go on ceasefire says a lot about the people standing lecturing people on who can and cannot be in Government. I have yet to hear the DUP say they made a mistake asking terrorists not to call a ceasefire. If Sinn Fein were to ask the Dissidents NOT to call a ceasefire what would the reaction of the DUP and UUP be ? What would they be accusing them of being complicate in ?
    So NO it is not a they are bad we are good, it is setting the truth out there showing both have been bad .

  • Zeno

    Unionists have always been in a majority in Northern Ireland and still are.
    They abused their power needlessly. They have had links with Loyalist Paramilitaries and probably still have. They are no different from republicans who do exactly the same thing, So if you are a SF supporter your counterpart on the other side is a DUP supporter.
    Think about it.

  • Zeno

    What’s the cut off point for being offended? You’re back to 1920.

  • Starviking

    Can’t have a statue of an Irishman in front of an Irish building?

  • chrisjones2

    Each rich person could be allowed to marry say 5 poor people. That would be a start

  • Granni Trixie

    Peter I am hoping that Brian is being devils advocate and that in real life he does infact appreciate that it’s not an Either Or change that’s required – cultural AND structural from top to bottom.

    At the political level (notionally ‘top’) much reforms is needed of course but it is really an apparent lack of will to lead by example in reconciliation post GFA which has created much of the rot. I had expectations for instance that politicians would start to form different relationships with people in other parties for instance and start to do what’s best for the country TOGETHER not Keep to the old ways which sustain sectarian head counts.

    We are unlikely ever to know the full extent of the influence of CRC (like Corrymeela) other the many signs that ordinary people now have an appetite for change DESPITE politicians insistence they prefer past ways.

    Events over the past week or so spells out that “crisis” is a social construct and I can’t help thinking that it suits the DUP in particular to deflect attention from its own internal crisis – which of course the UUP have fallen for as Mike strikes a duff note once more.

  • Reader

    Well, I’m not nearly convinced that the British Army much cared what a person’s religious denomination was, except in so far as it correlated with the chance that the person was trying to kill them.

  • Brian

    If the evidence of the republican posts above is anything to go by, there appears to be little appetite in republican circles for a “new age”. Far better to wallow in mopery and finger-pointing, while the rest of the world moves on.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Works in some Arab States, well for poor women anyway.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Fair Point Catcher but lets just agree that it was Working Class on both sides taking the hits out in the streets and not the Middle Classes !

  • chrisjones2

    We could always replace it with that statue of Sean Russell – the Nazi – as a reminder of the Republican Movement’s fraternal links to National Socialism

  • Spike

    Maybe we are finally a real democracy after all. Corrupt government, sleazy politicians, political points of principle when it suits and gutter politics in the meantime. We’ve finally arrived, a real corrupt, useless bunch of so and so’s who would sell their grannies for some power and a few pounds. This is what real governments do, we have finally grew up as now pound signs and power are more important to them than the green and orange.

  • Slater

    Astute phrasing in the article on the ‘legacy’ industry and its nasty side – rewriting history.
    Reconciliation however is the problem not the answer. It requires people to become uncomprehending. People want security which is why indeed they want segregation. You tell new migrants not to head toward ghettos and you’ll get short shrift.
    Accept separation and territorial marking as a reality for the working and under classes. (The middle classes can and do buy security in housing etc.) It is not as if there is not mammoth legal protection to deal with discrimination in order to counter the less benign aspects of segregation.
    To loosen educational segregation end the Catholic school exemption from fair employment law. It is a simple as that.

  • Spike

    To have real change here, segregated education has to go but chances are this will change to an elitist system of grammar schools so instead of sectarian divide we have a class divide (which is maybe worse!!). Throw the politicians power and money and they will soon quieten down. You want a united Ireland? – get money funnelled for schemes in east Belfast from Britain, Europe and America via Dublin and the unionist politician will soon change his tune. Some nice seats in the Dail too (and some real power for once). You want to maintain the status quo? – funnel lots of dough into west Belfast and derry via Stormont to keep the natives quiet. Its amazing (sarcasm) that the executive is now only threatened following budget cuts to the north. I may be cynical, but the longer our politicians spend around Stormont, Westminster and the Dail, the less they give two hoots about the people who voted for them in the first place and come election time will revive the scare ‘um ‘United Ireland’ and ‘evil Queen’ cards.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Some Irish people forget that Arthur Guinness was a Unionist politician, as was Lord Kelvin.

    http://www.votefrankorourke.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/oct13-a.jpg

  • Robin Keogh

    As a genuine matter of interest Zeno, do u think it is in any way a tad hypocritical for the UUP to assume the moral highground when they sat shoulder to shoulder with loyalist politicians who are openly connected to murderous groups (32 killings in the last ten years) during discussions on a gratuated response to the issue of orange order parades and in discussions on Unionists Unity. Also, the DUP’s refusal to comment on some of its own elected representatives who have joined loyalist terrorist commemorative parades ?

  • Zeno

    I think they are all liars ,cheats, hypocrites, morons, clowns and unfit to hold power Robin.

  • Alan N/Ards

    There is a bit of a controversy in Athy, Kildare, regarding a planned statue in memory of Ernest Shackleton. SF are opposing it because he was a unionist and they they don’t want his statue near the one which remembers the 1798 rebellion.

  • chrisjones2

    Even at Dumcree?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I don’t agree with your last paragraph but otherwise you’re spot on.
    I’d just say, give Nesbitt and indeed other unionists some credit for voicing the wider public’s disquiet with the how the process has rotted, as you’ve observed.
    Yes there are always lots of agendas politicians are pursuing, but if someone’s finally stood up and said what we all wanted – ‘enough’, let’s not just muddle through again, let’s really rededicate ourselves to doing this properly – let’s give them a chance. Especially when it’s a party with the UUP’s credibility as risk-takers for peace in 1998-2003, and who paid dearly for it. If we want change, we need to seize these opportunities, even if from (to you) an unpromising source.
    I could draw the analogy with Hume-Adams talks. I didn’t like either of them, and didn’t care for their talks much either, or the statements they produced. But there was a sliver of something in there that it was worth pursuing, even if it wasn’t what either Hume or Adams thought it was. When you’re in a deep rut, there’s little to lose from giving new things a chance.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    except we’ve got the green and orange as well. Worst of both worlds.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Good Shackleton exhibition in Dun Laoghaire last time I was down. At least I think it was. My kids were just diving in to use the toilets.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    to be fair, we were less likely to be rioting

  • MainlandUlsterman

    and yet the security forces made proportionately more arrests and got more convictions against Protestant terrorists overall. Just had to use different tactics. Opportunities for agent-running, infiltration and getting people to testify against them much more limited with Republicans. Co-operation from surrounding communities very different too. All in all very different intelligence and policing challenges. Republican violence much harder to tackle, much bigger in scale, and also the analysis was that it was the driver of the overall Troubles (if IRA stopped, it all stopped) – so not surprising that the security forces had to put disproportionate amount of resources into tackling IRA for much worse results vs the efforts against the Loyalists.
    But I agree it wouldn’t have hurt them to have interned some Loyalists, that looked bad. The security forces could have played the PR side better, given how slick and brass-necked-amoral a propaganda operation the IRA were developing. We’re still living with that.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I’m not saying that the security forces did not pursue loyalists through the courts.

    But the clear implication of the original commentor is that loyalists are singled out for baton rounds and water cannon. This is revisionism in aid of playing the victim.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    yes a bit, though I don’t think he was implying it was used mainly on them, reading his comments.
    Worth remembering Loyalists got/get the heavy anti-riot treatment too. It wasn’t the cosy relationship some of the more revisionist nationalists – I’m not saying you though – would have people believe.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    He sounds like a decent soldier, like the vast majority who served in Northern Ireland were. Indeed the troops were initially brought in with a mission to protect Catholic areas from attacks from Prods and vice versa. It soon changed though as we know as Republicans hated the welcome their own community gave the troops and sought out opportunities to turn people against the army through fomenting conflict with it.
    But who wrote the nationalist-biased stuff in the link? Implies IRA less culpable as fewer of their victims were ‘civilians’. Ahem. Also guff there about Ireland being ruled as a colony (hmm – it sent its fair share of MPs to Westminster, and Irishmen and women fully participated in the Empire’s exploits overseas. The Liffey was not the Limpopo). Also Britain just dividing the island on its own (it was done by agreement with the nascent Free State leadership). But anyway. The quality of stuff on some sites isn’t great. Even some recent BBC potted histories have been shoddy. Look at the Arkiv site. Sorry I’m working with a crap slow computer at present, links take an age to do or I’d post one.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I am responding to the post ‘Up to now “CIVIL SOCIETY” that is public and private sector leaders have funked criticising the “POLITICAL CLASS”. I know how to join the Political Class but not sure how you join this “Civil Society” ! Can Anyone Advise ?

  • Ian James Parsley

    Brian

    Thank you for nailing this.

    Exactly like you, I would rare go against Peter. However, in this case, the very starting point is wrong. The peace process is over as far as it could reasonably be. What is not over is the democratic development process.

    A democracy consists of the Rule of Law, which itself demands acceptance of the independence of the judiciary (note, however, how the DUP tries to interfere); acceptance of democratic decisions even where disagreed with (note, however, the DUP’s role in flag protests); and representatives making impartial decisions on the people’s behalf (note, however, DUP involvement in Red Sky, links to NAMA, dodgy expenses, etc). This is before we get to Sinn Féin and its unwillingness even to use the democratically agreed name of the country while remaining an apologist for terrorism.

    The problem with constantly talking about the “peace process” is that it gives fuel to the political and civic leaders of the “peace process”. However, those aren’t the ones we now need to govern and lead. What we now lead are competent Ministers, skilled legislators and educated advisers – something quite different from the “peace process” leftover we currently have.

    The “peace process” was about compromise and negotiating. The democratic development process is about leadership and vision. I see none of that from our political leaders, and frankly very little from our civic leaders.

    This is not about galvanising something which belongs to the past. It is about challenging the vested interests to lead change for the future.

  • Andrew Gallagher

    But of course the current state of politics is repulsive to those very same educated, skilled young mind that we need. Catch 22

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You’re buying into the IRA’s division of people into ‘combatants’ and ‘civilians’ – which tries to sanitise the shooting of policemen and the soldiers brought in to help them. The idea that the IRA were somehow less bad because they often shot at the security forces is bizarre. They are and were people too; and in the case of the army, not at war but doing a job in support of the police to protect the public from terrorists like the IRA.
    The security forces did use lethal force more often than they would like and I’m not saying they were perfect. The circumstances in which they did so though are relevant, as many of these instances were in the context of coming under lethal or potentially lethal attack, which, the reality is, happened much, much more frequently from Catholic / nationalist / Republican rioters and from Republican terrorists than from Loyalist ones.
    It also reflects I guess the extra difficulties of anti-terror policing and security operations in nationalist areas. The IRA knew what they were doing, and developed (for them) a virtuous circle of drawing the security forces in with attacks or with hoax calls, then attacking them, then melting away into the cover of residential houses, streets and alleys. As Malachi O’Docherty has described so well in “The Trouble With Guns”, they used their own communities as the front line for their scraps and skirmishes in a deeply cynical way, knowing any resultant ‘collateral damage’ from their mini-engagements around the city streets could be blamed on the security force ‘overreaction’.
    The security forces were in an almost impossible position. To withdraw from these areas would be to cede them to the terror gangs; and they had a duty to do everything they could to apprehend terrorists. I have no doubt some of the army took an overly aggressive approach to their task, especially in the early days, and there was unnecessary violence and loss of life from that. To experience it must have felt like being bullied and victimised in the worst way. But the bigger picture was that ordinary people in those areas were used as expendable collateral in the IRA’s desire to be soldiers in a ‘war’ with the ‘Brits’ on the streets of Belfast.
    On the relative blame to be attached to the security forces, it is not a fair judgment to say the Army ‘disgraced’ itself in Northern Ireland. In the various violent exchanges, the security forces lost three times more people than they themselves killed. Further, the proportion of deaths that were attributable to the security forces steadily declined as the Troubles progressed – by the end it was around 5 per cent, 10 per cent is just the average overall.
    The Army learned as the terror campaigns progressed and became more restrained and disciplined. It’s no accident that most of the worst examples of brutality and excesses by soldiers were in the first 4-5 years of their deployment. I’m not denying these things happened.
    But if you’re making an overall assessment of their work over the course of the Troubles, you have to not only take into account how many lives they gave but the sheer vast number of person-hours put in doing basic police-support operations in an exemplary way. Indeed, that is far more typical of Army operations in Northern Ireland than the use of lethal force.
    As I say, whether we realise it or not, many of us owe our lives to the security forces thwarting of thousands of terrorist operations. Judging them only by lapses and mistakes, however bad for those who suffered because of them, is deeply unfair and is blind to the massive workload and sacrifice they gave. It just isn’t good enough to lazily dismiss all that good work and all the decent people trying their best to bring our many violent killers to justice. When I meet any soldier who has served in NI, I always thank them and remind them that whatever stick they got and still get, the vast majority of people were and are deeply grateful.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Ian: spot on.
    I think Mick has been saying this too for a few years – and many others – that there’s a generational change needed in politics.
    We’re seeing the old generation not going gentle into that good night. To quote from Nigel Blackwell, they need to “take the TGV to Zurich and jump off the roof of Dignitas”.
    Not that I expect new generations are somehow free of baggage. But they might just regard faffing about with the IRA, homophobia or Kulturkampf as what they should already be, things of the past.
    There’ll always be enough to disagree about without adding unnecessary nonsense stuff, like making disingenuous excuses for terrorism, or getting annoyed about people reviving a language. Enough already.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    um, “foreign state”? Checked an atlas recently?

  • paul david

    In other words killing random taigs wasnt as evil as bringing down the state which itself was murdering in the name of protecting the state. Just as long it wasnt your family on the end of Lenny Murphys meat clever of course.
    A stinking state of affairs indeed. Hard to fathom why anyone would want to bring a state like that to its knees.

  • paul david

    MOPERY definition = I cant handle the truth please SHUT UP.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Wow that’s a doctrinaire and extreme Republican position you’ve adopted. It’s also wrong.
    Northern Ireland was not suddenly a legitimate entity in 1998. It was internationally recognised from its inception in 1921. It was also agreed by Michael Collins in the treaty of 1921, again by the Irish Free State after the Boundary Commission in 1925, then again when the Republic signed the Helsinki accords in the 1950s (by which signatories recognise each other’s borders). Then the Republic recognised Northern Ireland as part of the UK again at Sunningdale in 1974; then again in the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985; then the Framework Documents 1993; then 1998. Going back to the 50s again, when the Dublin government looked at challenging the international legality of the border in the 50s and consulted its legal experts, it was advised it had nothing and not to bring a case.
    The rationale for NI being in the UK is the same now as it always has been – because those are the wishes of its people.
    Your account of NI’s status ignores completely the reality of NI being part of the UK freely and by consent throughout its existence. The only people trying to force anything are Irish Republicans intent on forcing Northern Ireland to be part of another country against the wishes of the people living there. The ‘forces of occupation’ guff all sounds very romantic but it’s also flakey, fantasist stuff. You may wish it to be otherwise – fine, you have a right to that. But pretending it actually is otherwise now, or was in 1930, 1940 or 1950 is just delusional. And it’s based on that delusion that Republicans put all those people to the sword. Crazy stuff – and we’ve all had enough of it already.
    If I take enough magic mushrooms, I might imagine the traffic warden on my street is a member of the Gestapo. A harmless if dark fantasy. But if I’m so convinced of my belief I gave myself the right to shoot him as an enemy invader, I’d be rightly called a lunatic. The Republican ‘analysis’ differs from this only in that enough people are involved in the delusion that they reinforce each other’s error and mistake it for a valid perspective. It isn’t – it’s just plain factually wrong.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Reminds me of Jack Lynch in 1969 who must have been taking the same magic mushrooms at the time who asked Irish Army Intelligence to draft up proposals for ROI military intervention in NI. It was called “Exercise Armageddon”. Then one of his nice cabinet colleagues told him “If we cross that Border it is an Act of War and the RAF will be over Dublin within one hour !”.
    Now I know why the fools called it Armageddon !

  • William Carr

    And what were you doing to cause the police to fire water cannon and rubber bullets at you.
    I know quite a few working class loyalists who never got wet or fired upon by anybody, but then again they were not involved in street violence

  • William Carr

    no loyalists preferred the ” get a car and shoot the first taig you see” tactic and only rioted when things didn’t go the way they wanted !

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I was going out to get a pint of milk !

  • MainlandUlsterman

    they did that as well. I’m not defending them.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    so your position is that the UK was a ‘foreign country’ until 1998 – and presumably then its troops were forces of occupation etc. And that overnight in 1998 it became not a foreign country?
    If the Irish people really thought the UK sovereignty in Northern Ireland was a ‘foreign occupation’, how could it suddenly become OK in 1998? Were they giving these colonial foreign occupiers permission to do it then?
    Or was it rather that, to quote one of the negotiators at the talks, SF was in the corner wearing the dunce’s cap. They’d got it all wrong and their whole campaign was based on a denial of the reality that most people in Northern Ireland wanted British sovereignty there. In 1998, when put on the spot, SF had nowhere to wriggle to but accept the obvious sense of Northern Ireland having the right to self-determination.
    SF, to get anywhere as a party aspiring to unify people, needs to respect the audience it’s talking to. It has tended to insult our intelligence I’m afraid.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It’s a blessing and a curse on our island that people have such vivid imaginations.
    My Dad, an Alliance voter btw and running a small business serving both communities (no dyed in the wool unionist), used to say the Republican community had the unique ability to create a myth, disseminate it and start believing it as if it were Gospel, all within 24 hours.
    One of the stories he used to tell was of 2 conversations he had with a customer in Derry a few weeks apart, back in the early 70s. In the first the man talked openly about a recent local incident, where an IRA man had been shot and wounded in a shoot-out with the army and had been ferried over the border to get treatment, presumably by a sympathiser GP in Donegal. By the time of my Dad’s next visit though, the man had died; it had been the news. “I hear that IRA man died then,” said my Dad. He was met with a stony silence, an uncomfortable look and then: “What IRA man? Sure he was an innocent civilian.” My Dad said all he could do was quickly change the subject. Awkward.
    You can only describe the Republican history-generating process as Orwellian. It is a kind of parallel reality.
    I always think too of the Monty Python imaginary block of flats. It only stays up as long as everyone in the room believes it’s there. Then Eric Idle voices a doubt, cut to library footage of a tower block collapsing. Then he goes, ‘No, actually, it’s OK, this is real after all’ and the film of the tower collapsing is reversed again.
    They must keep the narrative up because without it, they have nothing and their entire escapade is revealed as just pointless cruelty.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “My father stopped him with the words ” If it is considered alright for me to kill for the freedom of my country then I can see no reason why it is wrong for an Irishman to kill for the freedom of his country.” ”

    What this doesn’t take into consideration is that people in Carrickfergus, Ballymoney, Portadown, Lisburn, Belfast, Coleraine, Limavady, Larne, Banbridge, Ballynahinch, Ballymena, Cookstown and many other places did not want this ‘freedom’.

    The Plastic-paddy-pub narrative of Irish history never takes this into consideration.

    I do think that the unionists dropped the ball back then (well, pretty much all the time since then too) but there was something that made us want to REMAIN in the UK.

    Many people of an Irish nationalist inclination simply can’t comprehend how many of us naturally look west in cultural terms and this has been the case for centuries if not millennia, whether it be Gallowglass, Gaelic island clans, Vikings or Presbyterians sailing to church in Scotland every Sunday.

    I am Irish and am open to the idea of a united Ireland if the circumstances were right but I’m flabbergasted how people can’t grasp that we fought (or threatened to fight) against something we didn’t like.

    SF consider ETA ‘a great bunch of lads’ for not wanting to be part of federated Spain, but when we do it we’re the enemies of democracy and have no right to do so.

    You consider ‘Britain’ to be a foreign nation but this binary prism completely ignores the fact that county Antrim has been a cultural, linguistic and political stepping stone between Britain and Ireland since year dot (I know a Scottish guy who jokingly considered Ireland to be an oversized Hebridean Island of Scotland, he had more of a point than what he thought.)

    The major landowners of Antrim were the O’Neills and the MacDonnells, the modern heirs are firmly pro union (as far as I can recall). As are most of the people who live there.

    Seeing Britain as a completely different foreign entity is a lazy summary, it is so much more complicated than that .

    As for gerrymandering, yes you are correct but can you imagine if the boundary commission had its way? Then a UI would be miles off wouldn’t it?

    No South Armagh, South Down or South Fermanagh or west Derry?
    Perhaps that would have been better?

    The ‘fifth column’ would be so low in population that they might not have been deemed a threat and all those stupid laws may never have existed?

    From a unificationist point of view though that would be awful:
    no nationalism, no civil rights movement to be hijacked by the Provos, no demographic shift…

    As for the ‘every crown uniform is a target’ that’s complete cobblers.

    If you wish to serve your country then you have the right to do so.

    The UK is our country.
    This has been rubber stamped.
    There is no way around it.
    We didn’t want ‘freedom’ (rightly or wrongly).

    To justify creeping around in the dark of night murdering pensioners because of their role in the ‘occupation’ is something I expect from Irish Americans who read Tim Pat Coogan books and see them as ‘history’ books.

    If YOUR country is under attack then it is only a reflex to defend it. That’s how many people saw it and unfortunately the B Specials and UDR where the main vehicles for this.

    I regret this and wish it were not the case (“more a target than a force” as an ex-Royal Engineer veteran said to me) but sadly it was.
    You forget that we believed we were under attack. Again.

    Lands and populations change throughout time.

    Zionists believe that they have planning permission in the old testament, Irish nationalists confuse geographical boundaries with political and cultural boundaries.

    Both of which I consider to be b*****ks.

    Get your head around the idea that an island doesn’t have to be a homogenous cultural unit (e.g. Britain) then apply that to Ireland.

    For some reason though, this cultural liberty is denied here.

    Please don’t interpret my tone as one of an enraged flegger, I normally agree with a lot of what you say but you dropped your guard badly on this one by sticking to a lazy narrative that misrepresents the complicated nature of North Eastern Irish and British relations.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I wasn’t referring to you as a plastic pasty at all, i meant the narrative that you have subscribed to.

    Given your background I can see that it would be incredibly offensive if that was indeed how I intended it to be received, it was not and i’d like to think that my history on here would support my claim.
    Yes I can be sarcastic and flippant but outright offensive name calling is not something I subscribe to (generally speaking).

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Noted, a poor choice of words on my part. I’ll be more careful in future.

  • William Carr

    Yeah right! if you dont attack he police then they wont use water canon or rubber bullets on you.
    perhaps a little less mopery might help!

  • William Carr

    and they also rioted anytime they didn’t get what they wanted just the same as the taigs, as a mater of fact the first policeman was murdered during one of the first riots which was on the Shankill road.

  • William Carr

    alas “plastic paddy ” is a very good description of people who buy into the whole Roisin Dubh, wrap the green flag round me crap.
    I have met more than a few myself!

  • William Carr

    I don’t know about that, but i would like to know how it is OK to deal and encourage one set of murderers and not OK to deal or encourage another!
    It is a reasonable question is it not?

  • William Carr

    Its one thing having a affection for your country but the whole Oirish crap and the “it would be heaven on earth if it wasn’t for those nasty Brits/prods” BS is plastic paddy.
    It is a bit hard to debate with someone who has a blinkered view of history,
    Perhaps you could leave it to the Irish (not those of Irish descent) to decide what is a insult and what is a justified criticism.

  • Paddy Reilly

    What this doesn’t take into consideration is that people in Carrickfergus, Ballymoney, Portadown, Lisburn, Belfast, Coleraine, Limavady, Larne, Banbridge, Ballynahinch, Ballymena, Cookstown and many other places did not want this ‘freedom’.

    Really? All the people, or just some of the people? What this doesn’t take into consideration is that for every place which rejects ‘freedom’, there is another place, or a fraction of that place, which is ready to accept it. For Unionist South Portadown, there is Nationalist North Portadown, etc.

    The Plastic-Sammy-pub narrative of Northern Irish history never takes this into consideration. Obviously if Group A get away with defying the will of parliament, importing arms and setting up their own state, ending up with knighthoods and MBEs for their defiance, then those in Group B, that is to say all those not in Group A, will try to do the same.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    At the time of the anti home rule campaign i’d say the fair whack of the majority of the people in these places.

    And whilst portadown or Carrick may have had some people enthusiastic for this ‘freedom’ there were many more who rightly or wrongly wanted nothing to do with it, something the Provo apologist narrative constantly overlooks.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Just wanted to point this out:

    You are saying that the statue of an Irish speaking, anti-partitionist who had a hurling competition named after him (as publicised by Gerry Adams) has no place in modern northern Ireland because he is not ‘integrated’ enough?

    If every unionist in NI played hurling, advocated Catholic rights and spoke irish then it’d be a very different place.

    I think you’re too harsh on the man despite his mistakes and failings.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    And they wonder why unionists don’t trust them.

    Why not just ‘arayanise’ the history books while they’re at it….