Eastwood: “we will not betray the people of Northern Ireland by standing idly by…”

This is an interesting line from Colum Eastwood…

The imperative now is not only to consult with the British Parliament but with the devolved administrations in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff. The people of Northern Ireland have not consented to leaving the European Union and we will not betray them by standing idly by.

Despite 56% of people here voting to remain, we may be in a position in Westminster where only three of our MPs in the North vote to reflect their will. While the Irish Government stands up for the North in Europe, the SDLP will stand up for the North in Westminster, and we’ll stand alone if necessary.

It’s on foot of the legal decision in London today, by a very senior bench in the High Court. It’s being given a political status that I’m not sure it actually deserves, since Labour is highly unlikely to use parliamentary procedure to strike it down, for reasons outlined by Brian this morning.

Martin McGuinness waved aside the idea that his absentee parliamentary troops would make any difference to the arithmetic, predicting that Parliament would count in any free vote.

To be clear, I suspect the dFM is right in that regard. Nevertheless, Eastwood is beginning to work more explicitly on position and actual narrative rather than just reacting to each development as it comes up.

As an opposition leader he no longer has to win every point, he just has to make trouble enough for his opponents to put them off their customary game.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Lots of people all over the country voted Remain, myself included. We lost, so the UK is leaving the EU. That’s the easy bit. The real question now is what form of Brexit we go for. Really this idea of regional carve outs is just wrong, pointless and without any moral or legal basis, so forget it and let’s focus on getting the best form of Brexit we can.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Why are you now referring to the Irish when the point you challenged was about the UK? You were clearly wrong to claim the UK had a referendum prior to joining in 1973 just as Alasdair McDonnell was wrong when he made a similar claim yesterday. May I suggest to both you and alasdair that if you’re going to challenge someone in a point of history that you check the facts first. Hopefully you’ll have grasped it now.

  • Katyusha

    Given that this is how NI was originally partitioned in the first place, and it was the originally expressed intention that the border would be adjusted as appropriate, then… well, they might.

    I’d go for it from pure self-interest were it not for the fact that unionisms track-record of managing the fragment of the Irish nation they had been granted was not exactly stellar, to put it mildly.

  • AntrimGael

    GRRR…it’s like being given lectures in bravery by the Lion from the Wizard of Oz. Colm spouting “Put ’em up, put ’em up” while everyone ;laughs and sniggers around him. The SDLP are toothless tigers and totally irrelevant.

  • Katyusha

    It’s simple practicality. The border has always been a nightmare to police; even when the Army was deployed along it it was still porous. Whereas flying between NI and GB is supposed to require ID checks already.

    Of course there’s no need for controls between NI and GB either, but it all depends on how much control over their borders the Leave contingent actually want.

  • Croiteir

    Is Colm slapping FF here? As opposed to Jack Lynch who did?

  • Croiteir

    He may well be delivering a narrative, but it is more akin to the Brothers Grimm than anything else, why can our nationalist politicians not just tell us the truth, they advised us to vote for the constitutional position that Westminster is sovereign, if they do not like it campaign against it just as the Scots have done.
    Either that or refuse to work it. I just hate this la la land rationale they are feeding us with to make it appear that they are the lads. They are not, they are not even the toddlers.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    That’s true. It is imperative to pin the Tories down on ongoing commitment to regional funding. Using Leave as an excuse to cut funding to your own regions would be quite a liberty.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I was questioning how many living people still resident in NI actually made a decision on that matter. Probably not that much.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    True. That was the Brexiters’ argument for having a Brexit referendum too. Fine but the agreement was we’d only have another ref on an Irish takeover if Sec of State judges there’s a chance NI public might vote for it. There is no evidence for that now.

  • John Collins

    All well and dandy, but will conservative and Labour MPs etc in England and their SNP equivalents in Scotland not endevour to get the deal most suited to the welfare of their own regions as well. Maybe NI reps may have no choice but to engage in this approach

  • MainlandUlsterman

    So you’re against the modern idea of an ethnically diverse nation? Can you only be a nation in the sense of the 19th “romantic” nationalist tradition?

  • Brendan Heading

    MU, we’re in an era where major national newspapers are calling for respected judges to be sacked on the basis that they are facing down popular opinion. In these circumstances, there is no limit to what could happen when the government and popular opinion is at the behest of ill-considered kneejerk reactions.

    I don’t think the UK government wants to impose border controls within Ireland; the problem is that they might find themselves unable to resist pressure if, for example, the Irish border was found to have been a transit point following a terrorist attack.

  • Brendan Heading

    MU,

    As I’ve tried to point out many times, Unionism has spent over a century making the case for NI to have its own say, especially on constitutional matters. Belatedly, almost everyone else has come around to that perspective and accepted that NI is a place apart, both from Ireland and from the UK.

    It’s inconsistent and dishonest for Unionism to now discard its right for NI to be given special circumstances for what appear to be mainly party political reasons. Nobody is suggesting that Britishness or the rights of British citizens should be reduced; but NI is a shared, pro-EU space, and people have to stop pretending that they can just ignore both the nationalist minority and the Remain majority.

  • Brendan Heading

    Yes, because of course the anti-EU camp gracefully and compliantly accepted the last referendum vote in 1975.

  • eireanne3

    same sort of set-up as scotland – in 2014 they voted to remain part of the UK and in 2016 they voted to remain part of the EU.
    Will Westminster allow Scotland to hold another independence referendum or NI to hold a border Poll to settle matters? highly unlikely

    https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/no-you-cannot-have-a-referendum/

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I must have missed something, I don’t remember unionism ever arguing NI should get a carve out from U.K. treaties or get a separate vote on EU membership. We have campaigned successfully for the region to have the right to self-determination – now accepted by nationalists too – but that is the choice of which country to be part of. What you’re seeking, a separate EU membership, could only be had through NI independence – and that isn’t what unionism is about.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    If it’s used for terrorism again then obviously that will require armies and police of both countries to be all over it again (hopefully more effort from the Republic next time). Let’s hope that isn’t necessary.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Exactly – plenty of lobbying we can do and it doesn’t actually divide people either in NI, we all want similar things

  • Kevin Breslin

    It would hardly be a takeover, more a merger than an aquisition.

  • JAMES MCGIBBON

    I voted to get out in 1975 because I did not swally the crap about it just being a trade agreement. It turned out to be a gravy train for politicians as predicted.

  • Mike the First

    No not an Alliance Party activist or any other sort of political activist! I’m straightforwardly and openly unionist, though I don’t vote for any of our local unionist parties as I find the DUP abysmal and the UUP unappealing. I actually went Conservative at the last general election, but don’t think I’d vote for Theresa May’s version.

    I think it’s fine for Colum Eastwood to argue that if there’s a hard border on these islands, it should be between Great Britain and the island of Ireland, but he’s doing so because he’s an Irish nationalist and he wants the actual border (the one between sovereign states) on these islands to be between Great Britain and the island of Ireland. Let him make that case honestly rather than abusing the referendum vote (which was about whether the UK stayed within the EU) and misappropriating Remain votes like mine. And it’s a difficult case for him to make, given that the actual border is between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, which is precisely where most people in Northern Ireland want it.

    I emphatically don’t want a hard border, but if there is to be any ‘hardening’, I want it to take place along the actual border. I am, like most people in NI who have a preference on the matter, pro-Union, and I would oppose an internal border in the UK as it would threaten the unity of the UK and weaken NI’s place within the UK. For Eastwood, that would be a happy consequence of a hard border between GB and the island of Ireland, but that’s because he’s a nationalist, not because he’s standing up for Remain voters or the people of NI.

  • Mike the First

    Fine, better that than pretending it’s already been asked and answered.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I’m merely outlining the constitutional basis for the united kingdom. Northern Ireland and Scotland are merely one referendum away from breaking away from the union. It’s a peculiar nation that exists in such a perilous state. And of course unionists are unionists rather than united kingdoners which indicates that their loyalty is to the union (of NI and GB) rather than the uk as a ‘nation’.

  • Roger

    Irish Republic is not mentioned in the GFA.
    Nor is a British Kingdom.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes it is, unless you ignore signifier/signified distinction.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I used to be involved in some of the details of M&A deals as a lawyer and a senior colleague used to point out really there’s never a merger, not really. At root it’s almost always one side taking over another. The language of merger is a euphemism. I tend to agree. Can’t think of any true merger examples. Been involved in a few businesses that have ‘merged’ also – same thing. There is an ultimate source of authority and power within the new organisations and there are people in control of that. They give the lie, not always but almost always, to the ‘merger’ story. Window dressing.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Not that peculiar. In same position as regards parts potentially breaking away some time are countries like Russia, Canada, Spain, Ukraine, China, India, Nigeria, France, Belgium … In theory every country is in same position because they all base sovereignty on people’s agreement to be governed by them.

  • Kevin Breslin

    So you will agree with the common Scottish and Irish nationalist narrative that the United Kingdom as being English acquisitions?

    It’s hard to call the UK a merger while in a United Ireland it would be in theory, the Republic of Ireland’s acquisition of Northern Ireland.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The Union of Crowns wasn’t, no. James I was King of Scotland first remember. I’m not sure the corporate analogy applies to that. English conquering of Wales was takeover originally and Ireland. But the dynamics change over time. And ultimately democracies work differently from companies. If the Republic did take over NI it would be by consent of NI so while still a takeover, it would be legitimate.

  • Roger

    If I don’t ignore what signifier or signified distinction?
    Where exactly is the Irish Republic mentioned?
    Where is a British Kingdom mentioned?
    Is The Six Counties mentioned somewhere too?

  • NotNowJohnny

    Is that really true in respect of Spain? Or Ukraine?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Fair enough … Scottish acquisition of England then.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Hmmm

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Situation with Catalunya is big reason Spain is insisting on Scotland not being given automatic EU membership if it leaves U.K.

    Ukraine is currently operating as two entities effectively with eastern Ukraine in danger of becoming a Russian-controlled sub-state.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Point being, UK is far from alone as a complex multi-ethnic state. It may or may not survive in its current form but you can say that for an awful lot of countries. My mother in law’s home village now in Croatia has been in the last hundred years in Austria-Hungary, Italy, Yugoslavia and Croatia. Lots of the world is quite used to changing borders and different ideas of countries competing with each other. There is no inevitability about any of it, it’s what people on the ground want ultimately that counts in modern democracies.

  • Brendan Heading

    Voting or not voting for something on the basis of whether or not it is a “gravy train for politicians” to the exclusion of all other considerations is utterly moronic.

  • JAMES MCGIBBON

    Depends on the other considerations if they are credible but a useless gravy train is a consideration nevertheless.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Yes, but of course I haven’t been arguing against the uk being a complex multi ethnic state. I am merely arguing that its constitutional basis is based on a union of two separate nations. And the union didn’t change that. In that it differs from Spain, Croatia etc. Indeed the Austria-Hungarian empire might actually be a better comparator than Croatia or Spain.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Is it true to say then that Spain bases its “sovereignty on people’s agreement to be governed by them”?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’d argue it’s the basis of all sovereignty in democratic countries generally

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you were arguing “it’s one sovereign state. But not a single nation.” Well, it depends what you mean by nation and my point was that many modern states have outgrown the traditional model of the ‘nation’ from 19th C history and created a new (late 20th C onwards) type of nation that is very much one nation despite heterogeneity of historical or ethnic origins of constituent parts. So I was challenging your assertion modern Britain is somehow less of a nation than other countries. An awful lot of modern countries came together as amalgams of previously independent entities, which retain some autonomy and sense of identity, just like us. Italy and Germany are obvious examples.For what it’s worth I think this is a mistake some Irish nationalists tend to fall into based on (1) an unsympathetic view of the UK generally and (2) seeing it through the prism of their own nation which, in traditional nationalism, follows more of a mono-ethnic model of the nation.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Loyalty is quite rightly to the UK with NI in it; it would make little sense to be loyal to a version of your nation that excludes your region. The same applies to anyone in any region anywhere, I would have thought.

  • nilehenri

    it’s not a handout, we call it rent.
    you all voted for the dave boris and nigel show but that doesn’t mean we have to sit on the sides silently applauding. the brats were the protest vote tw+ts who’ve left a mess, the irony is that they’re also the adults who are left to clean up the mess. god forbid i’d stand in the way of a democratic choice but i still think it’s a pathetic decision and it has been dreadfully managed from day one. it does not bode well.

  • nilehenri

    i assume that i have the freedom to call it whatever pops into my head, you must have been away for really quite a while because your kind of thinking isn’t really tolerated in the north anymore. there are pockets, but we’re working on them. we’ve had enough of english walls in ireland.
    https://uladhtain.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-10-46-57.png?w=600
    https://uladhtain.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-10-45-51.png?w=600

  • nilehenri

    analogy of the year. i’m safe your country is in such good hands.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    What a strange comment. And you didn’t answer my question.

  • nilehenri

    the unionists murdered ni’s ‘legitimacy as a unit’. it has never worked, it’s not working, it is not going to work, and things will only get worse when decisions taken on a neighbouring island are allowed to directly affect democracy in ireland.

  • nilehenri

    it’s a question of nomenclature. northern is a ridiculous adjective for a country.

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