Will unionists ever imagine a more generous vision than Orange culture to match Sinn Fein’s on unity?

Showing good timing and a big bunch of confidence, a warm house for Unionists in a united Ireland within the EU has been imagined once again by Matt Carthy of Sinn Fein.

Political positioning, based solely on opposition to Irish unity, is unsustainable.

Although he can hardly expect an immediate favourable response,  his pitch   is directed  towards  the other participants in the interparty talks.

People in Belfast, Derry or Fermanagh need answers to everyday social and economic problems. As the North changes, wrapping everything in the union flag will prove an increasingly threadbare political policy.

There now exists a potential for a progressive consensus among Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance, the Greens, People before Profit, and individual MLAs.

Laying out a vision of what a united Ireland might look like is crucial in allaying fears among unionists of reversed  discrimination or cultural marginalisation in a united Ireland.

 

Carthy is reacting to a speech by commentator Alex Kane  at  the first of a series of  Sinn Fein conferences in Dublin where Kane described himself as a “an unashamed, unambiguous, unembarrassed unionist.” This in itself was revealing and not just to this audience.   Aware unionists realise there’s something not entirely respectable  about the traditional unionist case, even 40 years after the old monopoly government was abolished. Siege mentality and all that.

Carthy  assumes – usurps? –  the role of magnanimous spokesman for majority Irish opinion to a recalcitrant and fearful minority. He paints a doleful picture of unionist isolation in contrast to  Sinn Fein’s  vision of a new Ireland.  And it is well credible. He speaks for a generation that will leave the pike in the thatch and forgets exactly where.  Just now, never mind the strategy- this is the vision thing.

The North has been transformed in recent years. No longer an Orange state, all the old certainties of unionist political establishment are gone.

The recent Assembly election delivered seismic change. The idea of a perpetual unionist majority in the North is now also gone.

Meanwhile, Brexit has changed everything. The prospect of the North being dragged out of the European Union against the democratically expressed wishes of people there, has horrified citizens across the political spectrum and turns on its head the “principle of consent”.

The main unionist party, the DUP, is out of step with people from both communities, not just on Brexit, but on a range of issues, including marriage equality, a Bill of Rights and an Irish Language Act.

Leaving aside  on this occasion dubious assumptions about finance,  Carthy is really  aiming at the other Dail parties to follow what he claims is Sinn Fein’s lead.

In the changed circumstances we are witnessing, it is imperative that the Government too prepares a plan for unity.

One step would be an Oireachtas all-party group to bring forward a Green Paper on the issue.

Plans should be developed for an all-island national health service and all-island public services through a “United Ireland Investment and Prosperity Plan”.

Brexit, the prospect of Scottish independence and the recent Northern election are harbingers of further change, challenges and opportunities.

It is time for all political parties, the media and citizens to engage realistically with planning for Irish unity.

Whether or not the other Dail parties are impressed , more power to Sinn Fein for arranging open debates on the constitutional position. Can you imagine unionist parties doing the same?  Or any UK national party, even at a time when the Union is under threat?

A unionist response based only on defending the narrow ground of Orange culture has gradually dwindling appeal.  Unionists need to work on positive reasons for not cutting the British constitutional link rather than positive reasons for not joining the rest of Ireland. This  should be part of their new reality, now that the political implications of a Catholic majority are being frankly discussed at last.

In the talks and  generally, creative unionist thinking is notable by its absence, apart perhaps from random observations from Mike Nesbitt who reminds me  just a little of a better educated modern Terence O’Neill.

Ironically, by taking several leaves out of Sinn Fein’s book, unionists would  be aligning themselves closer to the broad trend of opinion in GB, UKIP notwithstanding. The DUP would be very ill-advised long term to put all their eggs in the basket of the Conservative right wing.

An outward looking unionism is badly needed. Part of it is about realising that all-island  coooperation is an economic survival strategy and not a threat to the constitutional position.  Admittedly a stretch, but if it came to it,  customs checks at the ports and airports would be the acceptable cost of keeping the land border open.

The trouble is,  the sort of pragmatic  unionism that would accept such solutions is the life experience of  people who think of themselves as reluctant voters  and basically apolitical. Their sense of  nation crosses seas and borders easily and accepts sovereignty where it’s claimed. They wince at the sound of most politicians.

Confident in their ownership of the world language, they’re at ease with Irish signs, names, music and sport. They do not contemplate the absurdity of a border for writing and the arts and seek no bogus symmetry between a flute band and the glorious revival of Irish music, or between the Irish language and a local version of a lowland Scots dialect. They cross the water to live and work  without thinking of it as emigration. Belfast is their region’s capital, Dublin their island’s and London is their great metropolis.

Without making too much of a fuss about it, they’re proud of their own considerable heritage and know they are one of another with their similar thinking neighbours. They  react against over-categorisation.

Nationalism on the rise is more consciously political yet often seems more willing to accommodate.

For everybody, despite Sinn Fein’s frustrations, all the options are available within the GFA. National allegiance has become a matter of choice than perceived necessity. That makes its future all the more unpredictable.

 

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  • MainlandUlsterman

    I would like unionists to switch en masse and vote for those 2 parties. But unless enough people do it, which realistically would never happen, then not voting DUP gets you a SF first minister and SF calling the shots in the Executive as the largest party. The need to stop SF, for a lot of people (for very understandable reasons of our Troubles experiences and SF’s continuing defence of what it did to us), trumps everything else. If SF surges, unionists feel a duty to stop it, it’s as simple as that.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes, I’m no DUP supporter. But it’s pretty clear the big SF vote pre-dated the rise of the DUP and makes it very hard for unionists to desert the DUP, even if they want to. I think there are rather a lot of reluctant DUP voters. That in turn then reinforces the voting of nationalists for SF. This is the logjam we are stuck in.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes I think SF set their strategy a while back and it’s based on disrupting NI and trying to make it not work, as the place working smoothly kills support for Irish unity. It is cynical stuff. But not the first or worst time they have messed us all up for their own grand scheme.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Who is the Middle Ground ? 70K Alliance ? How long will that take 20 – 30 years to grow their vote to 100K ?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “slippery legal terminology” – or the agreement we all signed up to, as it’s more usually known.

    I’d suggest that a party seeking to stick to an agreement is somewhat less slippery than one that signed up but now tries to forget what it agreed to.

    So much for honesty and straight dealing. This is why trust evaporates.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You think? I’m not seeing a lot of movement from them.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Hardly.

  • Obelisk

    The middle ground is whoever is open to being persuaded. A large chunk of people here have their opinions set, yourself and myself included it seems.

    It comes down to that middle ground.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It seems the EU is keen to make the border as soft as possible. If that’s right, and I do hope so, then you may have to march down the hill again. Where then for Republicanism?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes but we have to share power with unrepentant former terrorists; you don’t. The swallowing of pride on the unionist side to do so has been immense. Don’t underestimate that.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    This is one of my many wall-head-banging moments:

    Unionists want rid of SF.
    They then come up with an action that is deemed suitably ‘anti-shinner’ but in reality is interpreted as an attack on the nationalist community in general.

    More nationalists then vote SF.

    More unionists who were previously more easy going then become alarmed at this ‘betrayal’ as the decent sort start voting for ‘murderers’.
    So, more unionists vote hardline.

    Hardliners come up with another hare-brained scheme to ‘smash SF’ and again end up antagonising ordinary nationalists who would never have considered voting SF.

    More unionists take it personally that decent sort are voting themuns.
    So they vote hardline.
    The hardliners then cotton on to the fact that if they just sabre rattle about SF (despite being an absolute gift for SF) then people will flock to them as the remedy for the Provo poison (sorry, I was listening to the Prodigy…).

    It’s a bit like that movie The Fifth Element. There’s this interstellar blob of evil that is looming over earth; they fire missiles at it. It gets bigger. They do it again. It gets bigger. They know what’ll happen if they do it again but they do it anyway because they can’t be seen NOT firing the missiles at the intergalactic blob of evil.

    I sometimes think unionism is the same (NOTE; I AM NOT CALLING SINN FEIN AND INTERGALACTIC BLOB OF EVIL)

    It’s a vicious cycle and it benefits the DUP and SF.

    Unionists should consider what furthers Northern Ireland’s fortunes rather than what might upset Gerry Adams.

  • Gavin Smithson

    Outside the exclusion yes. For some, Belfast Zoo

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Where are you originally from Alan – I like a lot of posts you throw up on this forum (good to see a different unionist perspective) My guess is WTR ?

  • NotNowJohnny

    Can you provide evidence from the two previous Assembly mandates (2007-2015) of actions taken by Sinn Fein in the Executive or which supports your claim that SF’s strategy is to make Northern Ireland not work?

  • NotNowJohnny

    I too am interested in what this neutral public square will look like. Is it one where the Union Flag does not fly at all at the City Hall? Is it one where neither orange marches nor republican marches take place? Is it one where one is free to conduct the business of government in their native Irish or native English tongue equally? Is it one where equal respect is given to the Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland football teams by the FM and the dFM equally? Is it one where you can get a drink on Good Friday or Easter Sunday irrespective of what religion you are? Is it one where you can get married irrespective of what your sexual orientation is? How neutral should a neutral square be?

  • NotNowJohnny

    Name some unionist politicians who agree with you on this.

  • SouthernMan

    Brian, I believe (but of course have no proof) that the Brexiters in the Conservative Party have decided that Brexit provides them with an opportunity to remove the NI appendix from GB. Of course, they won’t openly admit that yet – radical changes in party policy take time. So they hint at it, with actions and words, and gradually over time the party comes to accept it.
    See Gerry Adams & SF 1990-2005 for a perfect example.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    What happens to the large chunk of people who have their opinions set and lose a “Border Poll” ?

  • BeanRua

    Unlikely as they would have to overtake both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in the south. DUP, however, would likely have a stronger position in a UI parliament than they currently do in Westminster.

  • Obelisk

    If Nationalist, analyse what went wrong, see what can be improved and look forward to the next attempt.

    If Unionist, adjust to life within a permanently reunified Ireland.

    There is no nice answer here either. Unionists can’t ever afford to lose a border poll. Nationalists can always try again later.

  • Alan N/Ards

    I’m an Ards man although I lived in Belfast as a boy. Both my parents were Belfastians (a bit of the Ards speak there). My dad was a Blueman, but I started out supporting the Glens as a kid. That was until an uncle told me that if I supported the Glens then I was in the wrong family. He had no problem with the mighty Ards.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    How would you make Unionists be accommodated in a permanently reunified Ireland ?

  • Obelisk

    That’s for Unionists to tell us. I suspect Dublin would go out of their way to be accommodating.

  • Alan N/Ards

    That is the question that the republican have failed to address. There has been no joined up thinking between the two main parties. I know that FF are going to produce a paper on this subject in a few months time, but FG appear to have no interest in sharing what kind of a new Ireland they would like.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    A unionist always wants to remain British ! Can you Square it ?

  • Obelisk

    I’m always told I can be Irish and proud within a Northern Ireland-UK context so in a United Ireland there shouldn’t be any issue with the British minority remaining British.

    I guess I can square it.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Would you let that British Minority walk past your house on the 12th July to go and have their party at a field and return back to their house again after their party ?

  • Obelisk

    If the Parades Commission agrees I’d not like it but I’d not object once that happened.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Would you put an objection into the Parades Commission ? and on what Grounds ? All I seek is Equality ?

  • Alan N/Ards

    I hate to admit it but what you’ve said here is probably a fair assessment of the woeful leadership of political unionism. Their failure to give anything to their opponents over the decades is embarrassing. Obviously, they never to had to give anything as they had a substantial majority for decades. Now they don’t and they haven’t the sense to see that those days are gone. As someone from the pro unionist community this is not easy to admit.

    They have dug themselves into a hole over the Irish language, which surely was one of the easiest ways they could have reached out to Irish nationalism.

    Personally speaking, these so called leaders of unionism have made the unionist cause a laughing stock around the world.

    So what I’m trying to say is don’t be expecting a plan/vision on to how make the union appealing to everyone, from political unionism. It ain’t going to happen.

  • Hugh Davison

    What’s British about that? Does it happen anywhere else in Britain?

  • Madra Uisce

    You could have just said themmuns and saved the keyboard

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    That is disappointing to hear Alan in all honesty. Even as a republican, I would still like to see and hear a plan and vision for the union from political unionism. At the very least our unionist brothers and sisters deserve it. If we’re going to discuss the future we should be listening to and hearing from all viewpoints

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    Hahaha

  • AntrimGael

    In a United Ireland YES I would.

  • Unionists are generally older and would be less likely to be commenting online. Although that’s cold comfort because it underlines the demographic changes in NI.

  • Madra Uisce

    Natonalists have had to share power with a party of 17th century sectarian bigots who have been closely involved with sectarian killers who slaughtered over 1000 people almost all of them civilians and most of those Catholics. A party whose paramilitary wing imported illegal weapons that murdered over 200 people. Nationalists have had to do a lot of hard swallowing. As has been said before Unionism cannot take the moral high ground when it is swimming in the sewer itself.

  • eireanne3

    “nothing beats a single, unified health service” – I agree an NHS is the best option for safeguarding/improving the health of the general public.
    Nevertheless the same type of service is available in many different EU countries – just organised a bit differently and maybe providing better care, which may also be due to differences in population numbers.
    In any case, it’s worth looking at the various models to decide on the best option or a modification of what looks like the best option – should/when Ireland be Re-United

  • eireanne3
  • T.E.Lawrence

    How the F did you end up on that train with all us mad bs from Sandy Row on that James Bond Movie “Live and Let Die” Train ! At least you left that excursion to talk about it today ! Thanks for the support because when I tell my mates of the storey they say my head is “full of sweetie mice” I have to be political correct on this forum how I phase this it but since I come and love the backstreets of Sandy Row as a young working class kid when i stood at the Spion Kop of Windsor Park (West/South Belfast and we all song “WE ARE THE PEOPLE” …………………..?

  • grumpy oul man

    Well I don’t know were you get your info from but most people I know who define themselves as Northern Irish regard it as a subsection of Irish or British.

  • Hugh Davison

    Who you?

  • Macca

    Here’s movement for you: I would be all for the 12th of July being an all-island bank holiday where people of all backgrounds and cultures can celebrate their identities within a shared Ireland. People who are British can get their Union Jacks out and celebrate their identity, likewise, people who are Polish can get their flags out and celebrate their magnificent cultural background, ditto people who are Nigerian, Chinese etc. etc. can all do the same.

    Let’s make the 12th a special day of huge, all-island, celebration of culture and identity.

  • Madra Uisce

    But if that were to happen then it would take all the fun out of it .It would mean we couldnt beat it up themmuns

  • Roger

    While we probably don’t agree on what really happened, for sure in a campaign like that “outsiders” (i.e. non Scots) have to strike a careful balance. If they’d all have arrived up there on day 1, it could have badly backfired…Campaigning v. Bullying etc. In the end, they played their hand well enough.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Anecdotal, I know, Roger, but no less real for that. I have as yet to meet anyone in any position of authority at Westminster who actually wants to hold on to NI. This is not “hype”, but the endless of endless dinner parties in Chelsea and Kensington, or in the West Cork holiday homes of the London political and cultural elite for over forty years. There is simply no will I have encountered to do other than hope that demographics quickly solve the problem of getting rid of that embarrassing little by-blow of Imperial history who has been tagging along behind the UK to their discomfort, despite having pretty much nothing in common any longer with the object of its fixation. Of course it would be scandalous for them to say this very publicly, but say it they do when they feel they are amongst sophisticated company.

  • Marcus Orr

    I am commenting as a unionist, not an Irish Republican.
    But I can see which way this is going. It’s time for unionists to get their heads out of the sand and start to devise strategy, instead of always reacting shocked and surprised when it’s too late.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Which of the main Unionist parties defends Loyalist killings? Sorry, you’re trying to create parity on this between an outright terror supporting party and the constitutional parties. Simply doesn’t hold.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You’re not reading if you think that’s what I said. Open your mind.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It’s an ideal of course, but what I’m talking about is re-dedicating ourselves to some idea of shared space and reminding ourselves of the toxicity of a politics driven only ethnic oneupmanship. The model is West Germany post-war, where the political led a change in wider German political culture based on a zero tolerance approach to people continuing toxic narratives from the past.

    Practically, the vision is of a kind of “NI Future” convention in which all parties publicly rededicate themselves to the GFA and set even more ambitious ground rules for the future conduct of political debate – some red lines people can be called on.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    MU, during the Great War, most belligerents quickly discovered that the frontal attack in line was incompatible with the Maxim machine gun. They discovered that an attack in rushes intended to flank the gun’s field of fire was the only way to succeed. The DUPs strategy has always been that of “the first day on the Somme”, keep them moving forward even if nothing even reaches the enemy, the suicidal tactics of the second and third waves of the Ulster Division, rather than the first wave. The big problem is that Unionism has been so fixated on SF that it seems unable to consider any other tactic but to meet everything that SF does head on. This is exactly why SF is winning every argument in the eyes of world opinion. Until Unionism grasps this, their entire strategy is suicidal politically, and all voting for the DUP does is prolong for a few years an inevitable Unionist failure. As you say “This is the logjam we are stuck in.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I entirely agree Ciaran. We have the example of southern Unionism, which matured into something which weathered the establishment of the Free State to participate intelligently over the last century. Northern Unionism is the victim of its own success ossifying its approach into a belligerent and bellicose rejection of any change.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Just as the minority in the north in 1920 wished for Home Rule and had to accept partition’s effacement of their politics. But in a modern Ireland, the crafted exclusion the majority faced is amply not going t happen. There will be democratic channels open to those who were Unionists before, and the possibilities of numbers will ensure great influence, but not, thankfully, dominance.

  • Barneyt

    Can I ask why you don’t seem to separate nationalism from republicanism? Would you distinguish between a British nationalist and a British republican? As someone who has an aversion to most forms of nationalism I am sensitive to the “all in one basket” approach you take. It’s analogous to lumping Hibernians and foresters together.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    “because nationalists are voting for SF”: not all nationalists are voting for Sinn Fein, in fact there was a significant downturn in nationalist voter numbers until the last assembly election: in short perceived threat, perceived menace, perceived bogey man is definitely overblown. But hey, isn’t that what Ulster Unionism has always been about?

    “Unionists have little choice but to vote DUP”: are Unionists just reactive? I love it that the standard NI knee jerk response is: ‘Themuns made us do it’ but then agency has not really been a characteristic of Ulster Unionism and you’ll have to work quite hard to convince me that that’s untrue.

    “We are in symbiosis”: you’re right there but anyone caught in a symbiotic relationship that they don’t want to be in finds imaginative ways of breaking out of it or at least reducing the ‘hold’ that one party has over the other. I’ll make a simple theoretical suggestion, why not suggest that the DUP try applying the old chestnut of killing Sinn Fein with kindness? But that’s only one possibility and a kinda obvious one too.

  • Marcus Orr

    I was one of the unionists who didn’t vote for GFA.
    For one reason only, I could not stomach the thought of a man like Michael Stone being released early from prison as he was under the terms of GFA. This was utterly disgusting to me, given what that man did in 1988.
    It’s funny how nationalists always get the wrong end of the stick on the low unionist numbers voting for GFA and suppose it was somehow due to a lack of wish for a decent power-sharing arrangement. I was for power-sharing 200%, it was the disgusting clauses in GFA on “prisoner” release for both sides, loyalists and republicans, that did it for me.

  • Marcus Orr

    “They have dug themselves into a hole over the Irish language, which surely was one of the easiest ways they could have reached out to Irish nationalism.”
    Agree with you (as a unionist) 100% on the Irish language, this was a no-brainer.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    The danger of peaking too soon: kinda like the premature ejaculator who think he’s a stud.

  • Roger

    Funny how they tend to elect rather Unionist governments.
    My advice, don’t be fooled.

  • NotNowJohnny

    There seems nothing wrong with that ideal. Perhaps we should start with some proposals for red lines?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Absolutely … maybe a new thread for that? Big topic! But I think something right at the centre of politics in NI yet never constructively tackled. Have to do some work now, may post some thoughts later.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It was definitely the toughest thing to stomach and that aspect was arguably just plain wrong. But both main nationalist parties insisted on it. I felt the bigger prize of the deal – and being realistic about what nationalism is like – made it worthwhile giving them that one. But God did it stick in the craw.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    precisely my point – we are all locked in a negative cycle. It’s as much nationalist voters’ job to break it as it is unionist voters’. Indeed pro-Union voters vote more, proportionately, for the more moderate options, right now. But the point is, we are in a symbiotic relationship – no one side can fix this, we need to both edge backwards, step by step. For goodness sake, NI voters, stop voting for tw**s.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The point about the SF vote – and I know it’s not as high as all that – is that it is nevertheless large enough to make it the dominant party of northern nationalism and at risk of becoming the largest party overall. My point was that many people don’t look at that possibility with equanimity, for obvious reasons. We went through an awful lot, and not for that to happen. Power-sharing is unquestioned, and I don’t even mind a nationalist party being biggest party; but not them. Anyone but them. It’s just too much to ask of people. Things are sickening enough as it is, seeing them emboldened in their ethnic oneupmanship and treating their past like it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

    Unionism has to be largely reactive, because it is in a dance with nationalism in which nationalism tends to call the tune and take the lead. That’s how it’s been for as long as I can remember.

    Agree with you on the latter point that the DUP should “kill SF with kindness” – realistically, I don’t hold out any hope for SF showing any flexibility; their blood is up and their capacity for compromise, limited at the best of times, is virtually nil just now. What would really mess them up is for the DUP to be utterly reasonable at all times.

    The SF game has always been to play to unionism’s worst side and bring it out. Unionists need to see that and not fall for it. Unfortunately some of them, especially in the DUP, are too thick to be able to do anything but be played. But there are others, not least Arlene Foster, who are actually smarter than that and could defend themselves a lot better than they do, by drawing SF in, giving an Irish Language Act and so on. She’s made a few mis-steps.

    Always a good idea to concede stuff that looks like a generous gesture but actually doesn’t give away anything you weren’t going to give away anyway. MMG was something of a master at appearing generous while giving f-all. The DUP could benefit politically from guile like that for their part, though it’s not something I admire.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The UK has many regional differences, Hugh. You could point to stuff that only happens in Cornwall, or Norfolk, or West Wales, or the Shetlands – or anywhere – and say the same thing. We are a large patchwork and in the UK, the diversity of the nation is seen as a strength by most progressive people. You appear to hold to a rather monoglot vision of what a nation is.

  • grumpy oul man

    Perhaps you could show us some link to times in the 70s,80s, or 90s when unionisms even condemned loyalist murder gangs.
    And the rank hypocrisy of unionists of refusing to talk to SF because the IRA were terrorists but hopping in bed with the UDA/ UVF whenever suited.
    Seriously you could not make it up, the level is denial among unionists about thier past can be astounding.

  • grumpy oul man

    Oh yeah nationlism had no craw sticking when loyalist murderers walked out.
    Could you all quit the mopery and instead of living 20 /30 years ago, do either of you have any ideas on how to bring things forward from were we are and not the orange tinted world you would like to be in.

  • grumpy oul man

    We are listening, but what you are saying is nothing new.
    Basically it’s,
    It all themmuns fault, if they didn’t exist all would be great.
    You can’t blame us. when the SDLP was the leading party inside nationlism we wouldn’t work with them but now those nasty Shinners are the biggest we won’t work with them.
    A proud and honourable position, reminds us all of the time that unionisms would not work with NICRA.
    Only thing that’s changed is the names of those you don’t want to work with.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Yes. Id be keen to engage in that in a constructive manner.

  • Obelisk

    Every country has regional differences MU, it’s not a special strength or a unique attribute.
    It’s merely another strand in the well worn myth of British (well, English if we are honest) exceptionalism.

  • Hugh Davison

    I get it. Goons marching in circles in front of a Catholic church while playing the Famine Song is just a local folksy cultural thing.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    No.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    So coming back to the point, it turns out treating us as less British because we have regional differences is daft. Cleared that one up.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’d not noticed myself, Roger, that a passion to ensure the ongoing existence of a Union with the six county rump of pre-1920 Ireland came particularly high amongst their priorities in the voting behaviour of the British public. Puzzlement at the odd, quite “Un-British” behaviour of our local politicians perhaps, but no great passion for the Union as such. This is probably a case of the kind of portmanteau add ons of particular party fads which always characterise the inevitable nature of representative systems where such things are slipped in amongst real policies. No sensible person should read too much into such things without a lot more serious proof.

  • Roger

    Serious proof…Four or more centuries to go by here.

  • The Irishman

    Well said grumpy oil man.

  • Macca

    A thousand years ago the English were ruled by the French?

  • Macca

    No, the Irish government along with the support of our EU, USA and international partners will manage the situation. Yes, among the 800k “Unionist” population, there may be those who want to cause problems but it will be anticipated, budgeted and planned for.

    What is clear is that such people will have very, very, very, very little international support nor – more importantly – moral justification for their actions.

  • Roger

    I think you’re referring to the Normans, English born Normans then invading Ireland.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Which will probably be “one with Ninevah and Tyre” in a few years, Roger. Even a week is a long time in politics, as someone authoritative once said………

  • Madra Uisce

    How about the one that just got over 225000 Unionist first preference votes


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVZYQ9FtN7M

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0tEVZ36LMk

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It was a disgraceful interview but it shocked people precisely because it was not typical of the DUP view. And I am no supporter of theirs btw. The fact this one clip is replayed so much is telling. Imagine trying to pick out clips of SF justifying IRA violence. It’s one pebble versus an avalanche.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think I do draw the distinction quite carefully, I think every time I use either word. Some of my criticisms are directed at nationaliam at a broader level and then there are further criticisms specifically of Republicanism. Can you give me an example of where I’ve made a mistake?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    They can never really have a persuasive answer to it though, because we know Republican word and deed are very different things. Whatever they said, it would be meaningless guff anyway, as they have zero credibility among unionists.

    What we tend to overlook, but of course is a central fact of NI politics, is that SF’s record is almost exclusively one of promoting Catholic and nationalist ethnic interests and denigrating Protestants and unionists. Why would anyone believe they are people to listen to when it comes to a vision for unionists’ future? I’d have thought someone with our best interests at heart – or at the very least someone genuinely neutral – would be needed, if we are to trust our future to anyone.

    SF is holed below the water line as a vehicle. Really nationalists should ditch it, if they really want Irish unity.

  • Macca

    French and Welsh born, I believe.

  • Roger

    Wales was annexed to England quite a while ago. In any event, I’ve just looked up Strongbow and it says he was born in England.