Sinn Féin relaunch reconciliation policy: implementation will speak louder than words

This morning Sinn Féin (re)launched a policy document on reconciliation and healing that had been endorsed by their ard fheis in Dublin back in April. The event in Clifton House was introduced by Kathleen Funchion TD and addressed by Declan Kearney MLA, Canon David Porter and Martin McGuinness MLA.

Attending the Sinn Féin ard fheis over the last couple of years in Derry and Dublin, I’ve observed that Declan Kearney and Martin McGuinness were really the only two senior leaders speaking from the platform that emphasised the need for reconciliation. While there was much mention of the peace process by other speakers, the ‘R’ word seemed more exclusive and omitted from the wider republican rhetoric.

david-porter-declan-kearney-martin-mcguinnessThe series of Uncomfortable Conversations, published in An Phoblacht and later collated into a booklet, was an earlier part of the process. And given unionist distrust of Sinn Féin’s ability to “colonise language” as one contributor at the launch phrased it, perhaps it was wise for the party to take a gentle approach.

But now that reconciliation is being firmly placed further up the agenda, the crucial question – and one that was not addressed during the event this morning – is how Sinn Féin will implement this policy at a local level? What will the grass roots initiatives they intend to encourage in communities look like? As part of reconciliation and healing, how will pardon and promise be balanced?

Meeting members of the Royal Family is symbolic, and has happened. Yet Sinn Féin politicians still growl at mentions of Aid Cadets and the British military. Old habits die hard, but future consistency across elected representatives and republican figures will be an important barometer of success. So too will small acts and gestures at local government level, regarding symbols, any politicised use of Irish, the use of the name and memory of combatants, and respecting different traditions (with their competing narratives).

Some unionists will defensively bat away Sinn Féin’s rhetoric as hollow and specious, marred by murderous activism. Some will be only too aware of their own lack of meaningful reconciliation, a matter they too will have to address. Others may decide to stay tight-lipped and wait to see what fruit of the spirit policy are visible characteristics of attitudes and relationships changed by imbibing this reinvigorated policy.

Implementation will speak louder than words.

– – –

declan-kearneyIntroducing the Towards An Agreed and reconciled Future report (PDF) party chairperson and MLA Declan Kearney (audio) referred to the party’s invitation to David Porter to speak at the event and respond to the policy document.

“Some might ask why invite someone … with a unionist and protestant perspective to an event like this today, but in fact that goes to the very essence of this morning’s event and the launch of this document because the ambition and the challenge and the journey of reconciliation requires that we must listen to each other, we much take on board diverse perspectives and we must share ideas in order that we can in fact collectively work out the direction of travel for a shared future for us all.”

He added:

“Sinn Féin’s national primary aim of course is to create the conditions for an agreed united Ireland. And that’s an Ireland which is at peace with itself, in which all of our people can together forged a shared future. And we believe that reconciliation and healing are absolutely central to that.”

Kearney finished by quoting President Michael D Higgins’ remarks at Béal na Bláth last August: “The ability to hold together a forgiving consciousness of the past and an openness to the potentialities of the future – forging the alliance of pardon and promise – this is the essential imperative for our living together in harmony and cohesion on this island.”

“Reconciliation is not an option. It is an imperative. It’s not a one way street. But we must ensure that some do not push that agenda into a dead end street. So a new standard of real leadership is needed which demonstrates mutual respect for each other. There is a need for a new start, and a fresh start, from political unionism towards reconciliation. Republicans cannot do this on our own. The peace process needs to be reenergised with hope and ambition.”

david-porter-responding-to-sf-reconciliation-policy-reportCanon David Porter (ECONI, Eames-Bradley Consultative Group on the Past, Coventry Cathedral, Lambeth Palace) began by remarking on how he had come to be at the launch, addressing the invited audience and media. While he praised aspects of Sinn Féin’s policy in his “constructive critique”, he took issue with the document’s lack of recognition for “the thousands in local communities and civic society who gave of themselves during the worst days of the conflict to build community relations and hold us together”.

“Good relations did not begin when Sinn Fein and Democratic Unionists came to share power and a programme for government together. Many laid the foundations of the bridge that you were able to cross. … They were often dismissed as promoting an agenda … The community relations industry was ridiculed by others as a softening and blurring of the boundaries to prepare a unionist community for unacceptable concessions. Too many who stood in the gap during the years of conflict have been taken for granted … Those who walked across the street or beyond the walls to build friendship and trust. They have laid the foundations on which your policy now depends.”

You can read David Porter’s full comments below and watch his speech above.

martin-mcguinnessDeputy First Minister Martin McGuinness spoke about “the remarkable journey over the course of the last twenty years” and warned against complacency.

“We don’t come along here expecting that people just listen to what we have to say, or heed what e have to say, but we also have to come along and listen very carefully to what others have to say and to heed also what they have to say.”

Throughout his largely unscripted speech, Martin McGuinness emphasised “how what we have done here in this small place has inspired others” (including Columbia). he also drew on his unexpected warm relationship with Ian Paisley as an example of reconciliation.

“How is reconciliation possible? I don’t think there’s anybody in our society who more than ten years ago who would have imagined that Ian Paisley and I could have been reconciled given the history of the past. Yet when Ian Paisley decided to lead the Democratic Unionist Party into the political institutions, not alone were we able to develop in the year he was in the Office of First and Deputy First Minister a positive working relationship, but we actually developed a friendship that lasted until the day he died. What does reconciliation mean in that context? Does it mean that Ian Paisley became an Irish republican? Absolutely not. He was a very proud unionist. Did it mean I became a unionist. Absolutely not. I was and still am a very proud Irish republican.”

He added:

“If what is preventing people from becoming involved in reconciliation is the belief that we’re involved in some sort of a ruse or it’s an attempt to trick people into becoming united Irelanders or Irish republicans, then nothing could be further from the truth.”

On the seriousness with which the party considered reconciliation:

“I think republicans have rightly embraced the challenge of reconciliation, and we do so because we recognise that the Republic that we aspire to guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens. So if we are to give effect to those principles then there is a duty on us to pursue reconciliation with the same energy and vigour as we would any other aspect of our work.”

Martin McGuinness said that Sinn Féin had demonstrated their commitment to reconciliation through a number of public initiatives “which at times have also presented challenges for republicans and indeed I have ben criticised for some of the initiatives that I have been involved in”.

He praised people that he has met who have “put their head above the parapet”, singling out David Latimer, Harold Good as well as the aforementioned Ian Paisley.

“The very first phone that I got immediately I stepped off the podium [when Derry~Londonderry was announced as UK City of Culture] was from Ian Paisley. And of course he had left the Office [of First and Deputy First Minister] at that stage and he said ‘I’ve just been watching you on TV, this is a great result for our young people’.”

He finished with a quote from the film Into The Wild: “Happiness only real when shared”.

In the post-event press release, Martin McGuinness reminded other political parties that “for our people to be truly reconciled, there needs to be a reciprocation of our efforts; this cannot be a one-way process”.

“There needs to be respect for all the traditions on this island, for all narratives. The Irish language, Irish identity, culture and aspiration is as valid as any other and needs to be respected as such. That will require mature leadership from political unionism because we alone cannot deliver reconciliation. A genuine reconciliation process must seek to create common ground where the collective focus is to build for the future.”

– – –

Full text of Canon David Porter’s remarks:

david-porterThe Demands of Reconciliation

Good morning everyone and thank you for the invitation to be here today. When Declan Kearney made the contact with the request to speak at this event, I was acutely aware of two things – the first is to make it clear that I am not here on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, or in anyway a representative of Lambeth Palace or the Church of England. I accepted the invitation out of a longstanding relationship and as someone who has been involved across the spectrum of political and community life in Northern Ireland, addressing the demands of reconciliation in a divided society for over 30 years. My involvement with ECONI, the Civic Forum, the Community Relations Council and the Consultative Group on the Past are the more significant aspects of my being here today than my current day job.

The second point was that whatever my misgivings, this was something I could not decline to do. 21 years ago Tom Hartley and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir accepted an invitation to speak at a public gathering of mainly evangelical protestants in the Belfast YMCA in February 1995. Over 200 packed the room for a honest and frank encounter, the first public participation by Sinn Fein representatives at a protestant church based event.

Much has happened since then. Northern Ireland is a transformed society. Yet after ten years of Democratic Unionists and Republicans at the heart of government, sharing the office of First and Deputy First Minister, there remains a need for deep roots to a process which is often driven by pragmatic political considerations rather than a fundamental reimagining of a community at peace with itself. The Uncomfortable Conversations initiated by Sinn Fein in 2012, in which I have participated in England, by their very title, indicate what is required of us. Hard listening and honest speaking.

My task today is to give a constructive critique in response to the policy document being released. As a conversation partner I am not here to endorse a political party or its policy, but to engage critically with a policy which has as its objective the reconciliation of relationships with people like me and many of you who are here today. Time does not permit a detailed response, so I want to gather my brief comments around two themes – political and theological.

Politics is the art of negotiating relationships. Relationships in which issues of power and identity, experienced through the narrative of historic hurts and wounds, are intrinsic to our ability to form communities based on equality and respect. There is much in this document about power, identity and hurt.

Yet there is an assumption (that Declan has already referred to) that ultimately reconciliation will only be achieved through uniting of the island into one state. Timothy Garton Ash is critical of reconciliation in the political sphere because it presumes we are being asked to be reconciled to something, an authoritative account of the way things should be. The real partition in Ireland, as the late A T Q Stewart asserted, is not the lines drawn on the map but in the hearts and minds of the people. Uniting Ireland is a legitimate political goal for republicans to hold and to advocate. However it falls short as the ultimate test of reconciliation, which is essentially relational and not constitutional.

There is much to be welcomed in tone and a commitment to working for good community relations and the healing of the hurt of the last forty years. It is clear from the document that much work has been done between the parties in agreeing the context and processes for dealing with the past. Like all stages of the political and peace process, we continue build on the work of previous initiatives whose time was not right but whose analysis still holds true. There are welcome commitments to a public policy framework and forums that can address the political task building a reconciled community.

Yet I am left with a distinct unease. There is an absence of any recognition or acknowledgement of the thousands in local communities and civic society who gave of themselves during the worst days of the conflict to build community relations and hold us together. Good relations did not begin when Sinn Fein and Democratic Unionists came to share power and a programme for government together. Many laid the foundations of the bridge that you were able to cross. They did so because they thought it was the right thing to do. They were often dismissed as promoting an agenda which reduced the conflict to a sectarian squabble and not as the political struggle as defined by republicans. Or the community relations industry was ridiculed by others as a softening and blurring of the boundaries to prepare a unionist community for unacceptable concessions. Too many who stood in the gap during the years of conflict have been taken for granted. The parents who prevented their children – and he children of others – from joining a paramilitary group. Those who walked across the street or beyond the walls to build friendship and trust. They have laid the foundations on which your policy now depends.

When I first heard Sinn Fein speak of reconciliation I have to confess that my immediate reaction was, here we go again. Republicans have form in colonising language. Speaking of peacemaking, peacebuilding and now reconciliation. Often this has alienated their political opponents – maybe at times deliberately – from such language and made their opponents appear not interested in peace. However in using the word reconciliation all political leaders, in different peace and political processes around the world, are using a profoundly Christian and biblical word. From this context of a Christian understanding it has appropriately transitioned and given meaning relevant to politics and the restoring of broken relationships after conflict and violence. This was best exemplified in the process of reconciliation in Europe after 1945, in which the work of churches and religious organisations was integral to political, cultural and economic stability, not least the work in Coventry Cathedral where I moved in 2008 to head up their reconciliation ministry.

So I want to take the liberty of liberating the word from political colonisation by saying something of what the word reconciliation demands from its religious roots. It is not inappropriate considering that Christian faith informs many in this society in their civic participation and, whether we like it or not, undergirds many of the shared values we have as a community.

Reconciliation demands that we deal with the hate and hostility. There is an anger that remains in our community. It derives its energy from many things but most of all from the distinction we make between us and them. Whether in political, religious or cultural terms, sectarianism is the original sin on which we have fuelled our strife. The Polish philosopher Zygmunt Bauman speaks of the history of humankind in relation to the use of the personal pronoun “we.” Whatever the moment in history there have always been those who were the “us”. We the people, defined in exclusive terms. Everything outside such collective identities could be summed up with the word “other”, those who are not us. Life in Northern Ireland is too often understood in terms of us and those uns. Oppositional identity may be comfortable, for it is always someone else’s fault. But its fruit is hate and hostility.

In Christian terms the need is for the robust practical and political outworking of Jesus’ command to love – love for our neighbour, for the stranger, the alien, even for our former enemies. If future generations are not to inherit the hate we need to exorcise that hate and anger by moving beyond the “us and those uns”, to a collective ‘we the people’ that includes all who call Northern Ireland home, and based on a commitment of mutual flourishing.

Reconciliation also demands that we address the hurt that exists due to the cycles of violence over the centuries. In inter-communal violence the hurt that we have done to each other is always difficult to talk about never mind find the capacity to heal the wounds. We rightly seek truth and justice, but they are harsh masters. They insist that each takes responsibility for their actions and those culpable for choosing to inflict harm are held to account. However they need to be tempered with mercy if reconciliation is to flourish. Without mercy – as Pope Francis has reminded us all during his Year of Mercy – a mercy expressed in forgiveness and, importantly, a willingness to be forgiven, there is, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, no future.

And reconciliation demands that we face the future with hope. Political parties and leaders must be judged on their vision, their words and actions which speak of the flourishing of all and not just their community or electorate. Without such a commitment in which we embrace the future well being of the other there is little hope and policies and words about reconciliation will be found wanting. A culture of respect means we are respectful. An equal society defends the rights of all to cultural, religious, personal and political expression.

Our wee country now seeks to find its agreed and reconciled future in a radically different global context from when the troubles began fifty years ago, and even the peace process twenty years ago. We are not so much in an era of change but a change of era. Sectarian strife within the islamic world threatens to draw us all into a global conflict, if it has not already done so. Bitter tribal and ethnic divisions destabilise states across Africa and historic enmities rise again in central and eastern Europe. There is an uneasy edge to our world.

Forty years ago I left Belfast for the first time to work in Lahore, Pakistan and a year that changed me and informed my commitment to working for peace in Northern Ireland. I have quite literally just come back from Lahore, visiting this weekend the congregations of two churches devastated by suicide bombs. What I found there was a commitment by Christian and Muslim leaders to reconciliation in the face of hate and anger. A determination to overcome hurt – in recent years over 60 thousand Pakistani civilians have died in the violence, most of them Muslims, in sectarian attacks and four thousand military personnel. And there a hope that flies in the face of circumstance, that even there, a better future is possible.

In this year of centenary commemoration, as the lights once again flicker in our world and in many places do go out, the process here, however flawed, is a light to which many look and from which they take heart. Let us not be found wanting.

  • Newton Emerson

    Kearney is still defining the end-point of reconciliation as “an agreed united Ireland”.
    But the definition of unionism is not agreeing to a united Ireland.
    There’s your problem. All the touchy-feely talk is just intended to distract from it.

  • Nevin

    Kathleen Funchion: “Speaking at the launch of a Sinn Féin document on reconciliation and healing in Belfast this morning, Teachta Funchion said;

    “Over recent years republicans have embraced the challenge of reconciliation and healing.

    “We do this because we recognise that the republic we aspire to is a new, reconciled Ireland.

    “To achieve reconciliation and healing, however, we need to see reciprocation of our efforts.

    “That will require mature leadership from political unionism because republicans alone cannot deliver reconciliation.

    “For our part, Sinn Féin will continue to offer positive leadership and pursue genuine national reconciliation.

    “We do so as republicans. Firmly committed to our aspiration of a new Ireland which genuinely cherishes all her children equally.”

    SF, like other nationalist parties, is stuck in the Strand 2 ‘island of Ireland’ groove. In that respect, they are all anti-Agreement as well as anti-Unionist. As far as I can see Unionists are not much interested in the totality of relationships either so are likely to turn a deaf ear.

  • Croiteir

    Indeed and it takes two to tango.

  • Croiteir

    At last SF are starting to see the limitations of the GFA. It supposes that unionism and republicanism can reconcile and work together. They cannot, not even within the internal settlement of a Stormont 2 regime. fatally flawed. It requires a battle a day and 50% +1 to end division in Ireland

  • Nevin

    Croiteir, to return to my earlier metaphor, dancing ain’t easy when you’re hobbled together and each is trying to dance to a different tune.

  • Redstar

    Fair enough Newton but can we expect unionists and the DUP leadership in particular to make ANY attempt at reconciliation???

  • Newton Emerson

    Define reconciliation. I’m sure most of the DUP think it’s a generous outreach gesture to govern with republicans at all. Is that any less absolutist than Kearney’s position? SF’s cry of “we’re nicer than you” is passive-aggressive evasion. Each side started with directly opposing constitutional objectives and neither have budged an inch from them.

  • Redstar

    It’s just the DUPs negative attitude frankly still comes across as barely disguised naked sectarianism esp with one or two of their old warhorses and their fiercely anti anything that smells Irish/fenian

  • Gary Thompson

    Potato/potahto

  • Newton Emerson

    More definition problems I think. Of course the DUP is opposed to anything Irish. Defining that as sectarianism is just a comfort blanket. For real reconciliation, both these parties need to sit down and work out some agreed constitutional end-point. All else is noise.

  • Katyusha

    Reconciliation means reconciling with people and the community, not reconciling nationalist aspirations with political unionism.
    All it really means in practical terms for Sinn Fein is being able to shed the image of the big, scary Republican bogeyman. “Normalisation” of Sinn Fein, if you will.

  • Jollyraj

    There is, right now, today, a free, happy Ireland for the Irish people to live in and decide their own destiny. For the British people who live in NI and wish to remain British, why, my goodness, we can do that, too.

    Seems to me the whole struggle thing is all over bar the shouting – and we just haven’t realized it yet.

  • Jollyraj

    50% + 1 will end division, hmmm? Why, right now we have 50% + 1 (with a majority wishing to remain an integral part of the UK)

    By what bizarre logic do the Shinners think 50% + 1 settles things (as long as the ‘1’ is a Republican diehard). Seems it’s not just maths but logic generally the Republican hard fringe struggle with.

  • Jollyraj

    Same tunes, for the most part – just different lyrics 🙂

  • annalagana

    If the DUP were opposed to anything, yes, anything black,would calling it racist be a “comfort blanket.” Are people who consider themselves Irish included in your evaluation of the DUP’s antipathy to “anything Irish.”

  • john millar

    http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/reconciliation

    “the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.”

    Well good luck with that particular crock of sh1t

  • Declan Doyle

    Its frightening that someone of your professional stature can be so far off the mark.

  • Declan Doyle

    A third way? If thats what you believe then you have obviously missed or deliberately ignored SF’s clear signals to that effect.

  • Declan Doyle

    You seem to have very little faith in your own community.

  • Jollyraj

    Fully agree.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Politics is inherently about conflict and power imbalances but gestures and statements symbolic of reconciliation have been made by politicians nonetheless and they still have some impact. Republicanism and unionism are essentially irreconcilable due to their opposing constitutional aspirations. A constitutional solution can only work when it represents the aspirations of all of the people as one nation and making NI one nation would lose the 2 main parties a helluva lot of votes.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    And what exactly is his community? Is it irreconcilable from yours?

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    RoI does get on with its own business. SF’s aspirations have no influence on that country’s direction or purpose nor is our own echo chamber a launchpad for any possible all Ireland initiatives.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Your unique use of English is the only thing that’s strained.

  • mac tire

    In fairness, Ben, Newton had an article in the Irish Times quite recently defining himself as a Unionist. I assume that is what Declan is alluding to.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    His message is, as a self defined Unionist or anything else for that matter, the parameters of reconciliation in NI can only be defined by one of 2 constitutional positions.

  • mac tire

    “And what exactly is his community”

    That’s question you asked that I attempted to answer. That was my only point.

    Your newer point (above) is self evident. So self evident it need hardly be mentioned.

  • mac tire

    “Why, right now we have 50% + 1 (with a majority wishing to remain an integral part of the UK)”

    Link, please. I was obviously asleep and missed that vote.

    “By what bizarre logic do the Shinners think 50% + 1 settles things (as
    long as the ‘1’ is a Republican diehard). Seems it’s not just maths but
    logic generally the Republican hard fringe struggle with.”

    Brexit. Remember, we have been told that despite the massive (almost down the middle) split within the UK that Brexit means Brexit because the majority voted for it.

    If 50% + 1 vote for ‘Brexit’ from Ireland then Brexit it will be. Simple.

  • Declan Doyle

    Goid deflection ????

  • Declan Doyle

    Stop being logical.

  • Declan Doyle

    Lol, Ruk is a good way of putting it.

  • Declan Doyle

    ” SF’s aspirations have no influence on that country’s direction ”

    Which explains why both FF and FG both jumped on the Irish unity bandwagon after brexit and after the Shinners had laid the table for them.

  • Martin McGuinness:

    “If what is preventing people from becoming involved in reconciliation is the belief that we’re involved in some sort of a ruse or it’s an attempt to trick people into becoming united Irelanders or Irish republicans, then nothing could be further from the truth.”

    Or as the BBC accurately reported

    “I have tried to address what I think is probably a psychological problem inside the heads of some unionist leaders in relation to ‘is this a trick by Sinn Féin, is this a ruse by Sinn Féin?'”

    [Which is nice. – Ed] Indeed.

    Now why would anyone possibly think that…

    Or without a robust and practical policy roadmap…

    But that’s just the ‘Dark Side’ talking. Isn’t it Declan?

  • Declan Doyle

    You must have left the room on both occasions when attending Ard Fheis when Adams in his keynote speeches spoke of outreach and respecting Unionist Identity; ie reconciliation.

  • Jollyraj

    In what way is he far off the mark? seems bang on to me…

    Or is it just the criticism of SF that frightens you?

  • Ciaran74

    So the sum parts of this is geographic segregation for the Irish of the north? Swallow it or leave?

  • Ciaran74

    I get the feeling you’re not actually from or live in any part of Ireland.

  • Ciaran74

    How close are we to Nationalism seeing the GFA and the Assembly as an irrelevance?

  • Many different ‘accurate’ reports given his statement inside the building which I recorded and his language outside the building in the press conference.

  • babyface finlayson

    I think he sneaked a wee acrostic insult in there!
    Declan is clever kiddo!

  • Nevin

    The DUP excels in the Hokey Cokey and SF in the Paramilitary Two Step.

  • Cináed mac Artri

    The most meaningful post so far on this thread.

    Words, such as ‘community’, ‘reconciliation’, are machine-gunned around indiscriminately, and everyone is a legitimate target.

    Such simple words that everybody thinks they know what they mean, or indeed that in the context they are used in here they actually mean anything practical at all.

    But how the Stormont politicos love a launch of ‘something significant’. Another strangulation of language crime, another opportunity for a nationalism (of whatever hue: red, white, blue, or green, white, orange) to outgun the other.

    Still I suppose it provides work for printers (here I could say something about tomorrow’s chip paper), and I’m sure the coffee and cakes are very pleasant.

  • Mirrorballman

    “There is, right now, today, a free, happy Ireland for the Irish people to live in and decide their own destiny.”

    You mean like when we decided our own destiny in terms of staying or leaving the EU.

  • Granni Trixie

    And isn’t that ironic?

  • T.E.Lawrence
  • Tochais Siorai

    And the Irish people who live in NI?

  • Alan

    I wasn’t questioning the accuracy of your report from inside the building. I was highlighting the insult McGuinness added when speaking outside.

  • Katyusha

    “I have tried to address what I think is probably a psychological problem inside the heads of some unionist leaders in relation to ‘is this a trick by Sinn Féin, is this a ruse by Sinn Féin?'”

    He’s bang on the money. Unionist leaders perceive everything that SF (or, well, anyone) does as part of some shadowy plot to advance Irish unity by stealth, or at least they are happy to portray this view to galvanise support from their electorate. SF can only wish the had the kind of mythical power unionists ascribe to it. Just because SF has long term strategic aims doesn’t mean there is an ulterior motive behind everything they do, or that political unionism isn’t completely paranoid.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Thank you, David Porter. A very thoughtful speech.

    Many of us long for a genuine reconciliation and SF appear to be a party that is trying to prove that their past is behind them, and that they are seeking a peaceful way forward to reunification. Ok. Fair enough. But are they seeing reconciliation as a means to bring about a UI? Would they be happy if a genuine reconciliation in NI didn’t bring about a UI but, instead, a happier, peaceful NI that was still part of the UK?

    I’m not trying to knock SF as I have read their document and it appears to say all the right things, but it all seems to geared towards a UI. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, apart from the fact that it might not ever happen. But they have brought forward the document an, and that is to be welcomed, and only time will tell if they mean it or not. Mind you, the likes of wee Barry Mcelduff, and his antics about the cadets last week, sometimes makes me think that they will still try and ride two horses at the same time.

  • Reader

    So the Brexit vote ended “division”? That’s news to me.
    How about we agree that 50%+1 decides the issue, without pretending, as Croiteir did, that it would also “end division”?

  • Jollyraj

    Uhm… Ireland didn’t have a referendum. Can have one if they want, I imagine.

  • Jollyraj

    Interesting that “psychological problems” are the go-to defence from the shinners when anybody dares to disagree with them.

  • Jollyraj

    They are more than welcome to live here, and are a valuable part of the community. Much like the Irish people who live anywhere else in the UK.

  • mac tire

    “So the Brexit vote ended “division”? That’s news to me.”

    Where on earth did you read that from my comment? I’ll quote part of it for you:

    “…despite the massive (almost down the middle) split within the UK…”

    I made no mention of ending division and, if you reread my comment, you’ll see I agree that 50%+1 should decide the issue.

  • Croiteir

    I cannot speak for shinners as you call them, they can do that for themselves whomsoever they may be. But what I can say is that it will end the division of Ireland as far as the political border is concerned.

    This is the first step to wards reconciliation in Ireland.

  • Croiteir

    It seems we are in agreement

  • Croiteir

    Ah now, I did not say that, I said something different, I said “to end division” entirely different from what you are painting it as “would end”.

    As Arlene would appreciate, detail.

  • Jollyraj

    Thank you.

    Same answer, different words. For you, too, reconciliation means getting your way. The northern Republican has for decades now been pretty much the archetype of the spoilt child. One can see why Ireland is no longer all that keen to reincorporate them. Haven’t shown real appetite for it for years.

    ‘Shinners’ is hardly my term for them. it’s a contemptuous term that is widely used.

    At least I didn’t pass on the opinion of a great friend of mine (English chap, fell in love with an Irish girl, and indeed with Ireland itself, and has lived in Ireland this last 5 years) that Sinn Fein in Ireland proper are the party that thick people vote for. He reckons they are on a similar level of brainlessness to the BNP, and with the same appeal to the ignorant as Trump.

    All I said was ‘shinners’.

  • Croiteir

    hoc est enim corpus meum – Cant imagine Gregory currying his yoghurt with that

  • Croiteir

    I can see you are still wedded to division based on a sectarian headcount. Which is why this will probably end with the defeat of the original sectarian headcount by another sectarian headcount.
    Then the business of making Ireland work for all will start, possibly for the first time.

  • Croiteir

    I agree entirely Newton, that is it succinctly put.

    Two diametrically opposed views which cannot by definition be reconciled, sovereignty and authority.

  • johnny lately

    “recognise that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a
    united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland”

    “! acknowledge that while a substantial section of the people in Northern Ireland share the legitimate wish of a majority of the people of the island of Ireland for a united Ireland, the present wish of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland, freely exercised and legitimate, is to maintain the Union and, accordingly, that Northern Ireland’s status as part of the United Kingdom “reflects and relies upon that wish”

    Unionists like yourself Jollyraj need to come to terms with the above and understand Northern Ireland is not like any other part of the UK. Your very existence depends on those Northern Ireland born irish citizens you suggest are welcome to live in Northern Ireland who you deem valuable members of the community.

  • Hugh Davison

    Are you suggesting that Northern Irish people who don’t like things the way they are should relocate over the border?

  • Hugh Davison

    What was the insult, Pete?

  • Teddybear

    What does reconciliation actually mean?Can someone explain what this means in practice?

  • Jollyraj

    No. Why? Are you? Or would you like to pretend I am?

  • Declan Doyle

    The issue over cadets was a legitimate concern expressed by a party member. Nothing more and nothing less.

  • Jollyraj

    “Your very existence depends on those Northern Ireland born irish citizens”

    No, it doesn’t. My existence depends on clean water, a regular food supply and fresh air. And a few other indispensables.

    “….you suggest are welcome to live in Northern Ireland”

    “who you deem valuable members of the community.”

    I don’t see your problem with either of these sentiments.

  • Declan Doyle

    I hope we do some day break all those bastards who would stand in the way of equailty and fairness.

  • johnny lately

    Im sure you dont see the arrogance of your sentiments Jollyraj your problem is you believe Northern Ireland is British and therefore belongs to Britain and anyone not identifying themselves as British is a foreigner but unfortunately its a sentiment shared only by yourselves, you dont seem to realise Britain simply governs this part of Ireland its up to the people of Ireland alone whether that political arrangement remains. Even at this stage you still cant accept reality and pretend Unionism doesn’t need Catholic Irish Nationalist votes and support to keep the unionist utopia alive.

  • Jollyraj

    Wrong.

    Nice try with the attempt to perpetuate the sectarianism of the past for a new generation, though.

    TIme you grew up and realised that there are people in NI who are Catholic, people who are Irish and (yes) people who are nominally ‘nationalist’ who are quite happy being in the UK and who just aren’t interested in your tedious 19th Century ideals and death cults.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    What with ? A Trojan Horse ?

  • Declan Doyle

    Whatever it takes

  • T.E.Lawrence

    A Gun and Bomb ?

  • johnny lately

    So you do accept that Unionism does need Irish Catholic nationalist voters to keep the Unionist political utopia alive. Its probably best for British people in Northern Ireland not to insult the native Irish population of Northern Ireland by telling them they are welcome to live in the land they and their ancestors have lived in for hundreds if not thousands of years and that you concede they are worthwhile members of the community.

    19th century ideals and death cults ?

    Coming from a section of people who have for hundreds of years commemorated with thousands of parades every year the invasion/ killing of their own people and overthrowing of their rightful King by a foreign army and spoofing to anyone who will listen that the overthrow was about religious freedom and that their forefathers played a part in the battle of the Boyne sounds a little hypocritical.

  • Tochais Siorai

    That’s nice of you.

    British as Finchley, eh?

  • Declan Doyle

    Are we talking about Loyalism now?

  • Jollyraj

    “So you do accept that Unionism does need Irish Catholic nationalist voters to keep the Unionist political utopia alive.”

    No. We need a majority of people of all backgrounds (which obviously includes Irish people, Catholics and everyone else) if we want to retain our place in the UK. Not sure what you’re on about with the ‘unionist utopia’ line. Once again, I’d invite you to drop the antiquated rhetoric.

    “Its probably best for British people in Northern Ireland not to insult the native Irish population of Northern Ireland by telling them they are welcome to live in the land they and their ancestors have lived in for hundreds if not thousands of years and that ..they are worthwhile members of the community.”

    Uhm…clutching at straws, aren’t you. Them vile, bigoted unionists saying Irish people are welcome, valued members of the community.

  • Reader

    Katyusha: He’s bang on the money. Unionist leaders perceive everything that SF (or, well, anyone) does as part of some shadowy plot to advance Irish unity by stealth, or at least they are happy to portray this view to galvanise support from their electorate.
    Surely it isn’t just unionists who think that anything northern SF does is intended either to advance a United Ireland or to placate their local power base?
    Are you suggesting that northern SF has somehow forgotten the reason for their continued existence?
    But I disagree that talking about reconciliation is seen as a “ruse” or a “trick”. It’s a bit too transparent even for us huns.

  • Alan N/Ards

    I’m not sure that I buy that, Declan. What he was saying (or my reading of what he was saying) was that there will be no reconciliation with the British army by his brand of republicanism. The possibility that these young people could go on to join the RAF is to much for him. Yet at the same time we all know that the Republic does not have the capability to defend its own air space and depends on the RAF to escort the likes of the Russians bombers (who flew into it recently) out of it. For all we know it could have been a Northern Irish pilot helping the Republic in recent weeks. Is that not what friendly neighbours do?

    I believe that we should all take a look at the progress Rwanda has made after the horrific genocide of twenty years ago, and maybe try to see if we can replicate some of the ideas that they have there. One of the things that they have is a cow for peace project. A victim and a perpetrator share a cow and jointly look after it. When it has its first calf, the victim gives the calf to the perpetrator. It’s a sign of forgiveness by the victim. Obviously, the perpetrator has to accept that he had wronged the victim for it to work. Unfortunately, we haven’t got to that position on this island, and to be honest, we probably never will.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    No ! We are talking about you ! Would you use a Gun and Bomb to Break them B——- that your Leader Wishes ?

  • Declan Doyle

    No I wouldn’t and neither would he…accept in your imagination of course.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Glad to hear it Declan ! your statement “Whatever it takes” worried me a bit, but not sure about your Leader ? I remember “Bloody Friday” in Belfast and who was the Commanding Officer of the Provos that day which caused such carnage and loss of life to innocent human beings !

  • Katyusha

    The issue of military recruitment at schools, and relationships between the military and schools, is questionable enough without even bringing Republicanism into the equation. There seems to be an assumption that it just fine for the PSNI chief constable to go into a school and promote careers in the RAF and Army to impressionable young people weighing up their options about what to do once they leave. You don’t have to be a republican to oppose it, you know! http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-british-armed-forces-needs-to-stop-targeting-and-recruiting-children-10352738.html

    In any case, the most surprising thing about that story is that people outside of West Tyrone actually cared about something Barry McElduff said! Surely a first.

  • Declan Doyle

    You are about 35 years behind the rest of the world there mate.

  • Katyusha

    Surely it isn’t just unionists who think that anything northern SF does is intended either to advance a United Ireland or to placate their local power base?

    Very important, that little word “or“. Does it not imply that SF also do things that are completely unrelated to Irish unity?
    In reality, very little of what SF does advances the cause of Irish unity. The multiple aims of SF are often contradictory and some of the things they will do work against the cause of ending partition. They are in government in NI, and they also have to demonstrate to the RoI electorate that they are capable of responsible government and can manage an economy. They have to protect the aspirational vote they have among Catholics in NI, and at the same time hold the RoI government and FF to task on issues of economic fairness and social justice. They’ve positioned themselves as a champion of progressive causes, as a force willing to fight people’s corner against austerity, as a credible party outside the corrupt FF/FG duopoly… SF are busy these days. There isn’t a lot of time left over to make every single play about a united Ireland.

    Take equality, or welfare, for example. In an extremely unequal or discriminatory society, the affection that NI nationalists would feel towards the NI state would be minimal, if not non-existent. Yet SF keep working to preserve and advance the cause of equality and fairness for all, and work to improve the welfare of NI citizens. Is this not completely counterproductive, if every move they make is supposed to work towards a united Ireland? Similarly, SF are trying to stimulate the NI economy, even taking part in trade missions. They are actively administering Westminster’s decrees in NI, governing the statelet that they once wished to make ungovernable. How do these moves, which shore up the stability of Northen Ireland, advance the unification agenda in any way, shape or form?

    Reconciliation is the same. there is no guarantee reconciliation will make unification any more likely, and every chance it could push it further away. Yet it must be pursued regardless. Nevertheless, unionism, in its eternal paranoia, sees everything as attempt to inch forward to unification – all suggested links with the south are viewed in this light, any advancement of equality is viewed in this light. But I’m sure to you, such obvious truths are transparent.

  • johnny lately

    “Them vile, bigoted unionists saying Irish people are welcome, valued members of the community”

    Those are your own words Jollyraj not mine so lets stick to facts not imagination and you suggested that Irish people were welcome to live in Northern Ireland. What an honour you’ve bestowed upon us, a British person to telling an Irish person he/she were welcome to live in Ireland and the Unionist utopia is the link with Britain but I do like the antiquated rhetoric line its laughable coming from a section of people who spend 12 months of every year parading about with swords and banners proclaiming they support religious freedom for everyone, well anyone who is a protestant and British that is.

  • Jollyraj

    Honestly, you’re just coming across as a deeply frustrated & unhappy person all round. I don’t think there’s really anything more I can do for you.

  • John Collins

    Was that not Crossmaglen. When I used be in the pubs in Cross” many years ago I always got that British feeling.

  • Reader

    Katyusha: Yet SF keep working to preserve and advance the cause of equality and fairness for all, and work to improve the welfare of NI citizens.
    Specifically, they complain a lot. But when money becomes available, they spend it on pet projects instead.

    Katyusha: Is this not completely counterproductive, if every move they make is supposed to work towards a united Ireland?
    It would be counterproductive if they actually changed anything for the better. But just complaining, loudly: well, that’s not counterproductive.

  • Katyusha

    You’re going to have to clarify what you see as a “pet project”, Reader, becasue based on your postings, what you see as a “pet project” are things which many voters would see as a priority. And are also things which would likely go ahead in any all-Ireland state, in which case, it’s certainly counterproductive to support for unity.

    In any case, they are prevented from acting on, well, anything, by their reliable partners in government, the DUP.