Northern Ireland still languishing at political ground zero and far from “self-actualisation”…

For all the protests from Colum Eastwood and Michelle O’Neill over the calling of this election, Theresa May is not ignoring Northern Ireland. She’s merely taking care of business according to her own political version of Maslow’s pyramid of needs.

So where does Northern Ireland (our periodical losses of political power and will largely spring from the internal prohibitions of our covetous and beggarly political culture) fit in?

Sadly for us, perhaps, in these post-conflict days, Northern Ireland is no longer an issue affecting the base needs of the UK (or Ireland). Brokenshire’s announcement is merely sticking a pin in negotiations that were not, by any reasonable measure, going anywhere.

Whilst a strong majority in the election for her Conservative party will not strengthen her hand in the actual negotiations, it does allow her to bargain freely over the necessary trade-offs to prevent UK PLC falling into a deep dark hole.

This is also why there’s some (justifiable) optimism in Dublin that as Charlie Flanagan put it: “we could be looking towards a less hard Brexit than that was anticipated after the referendum”.

Some say that a new intake of Tory MPs will be more Eurosceptic. But this misses a key corollary of the referendum. Much as the ’75 Referendum passed the eurosceptic bug from Labour to Tories, it is now already working in reverse.

Any comfortable Tory majority will be honed out of a rapidly dropping UKIP vote share (Tory strategists now reference UKIP as a gateway drug for switching to Conservative) at the expense of Labour whilst inhibiting Lib Dem growth in the Eurosceptic south-west of England.

Eastwood does have a point (O’Neill is swivelling all over the place, backing an election one minute – “bring it on” – protesting it the next) in that London doesn’t care about Northern Ireland.

But of course, within the bounds of the devolutionary settlement, it’s not supposed to care about NI. That’s our parties job.

The only way for Irish Republicans to deal with that is quit sobbing tearfully about how you keep having your (shockingly minimalist) agenda beaten down by mean depredatory unionists, get back to Stormont and begin to repurpose that Brexiteer strapline: Take Back Control.

The Brits won’t do it. Nor, as noted here before Christmas, will any other external agency. If  Mrs May gets her mandate she won’t be beholding to the DUP at Westminster (or anyone else), which will free her hand. However, she won’t be doing favours for anyone else.

First on the agenda is the stick rather than carrot. Power to set the regional rates (a piece of business left in complete disarray with undue haste by Sinn Fein’s former Finance Minister) will pass from local politicians to Westminister next week.

Significantly, it will be set on the advice of Stormont’s senior civil servants, a group of people who have none of the political discretion available to democratically elected ministers.  They will have to make the best of the mess left behind them by that same hasty exit.

Leaving Northern Ireland languishing at the political base of Maslow’s pyramid and far from its peak (where actual political change is possible): ie, self-actualisation.

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  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    I wouldn’t say ‘little or no’ – I for one want to get rid of the Royal family – but most of us are putting it second to achieving independence. After that – anything goes – abolish the SNP for a start, get a real left wing party going.

  • james

    And that, presumably, is why you vote Sinn Fein?

  • Gopher

    But that is the inherent problem with SF, they just surf crisis, the dim witted mistake that as strategy and even genius. The situation is they are stuck on the crisis they decided to surf and everyone else is now picking out bigger waves to surf. May and big picture politics has taken the assembly off the horizon and your mandate is only as good as your last election (which incidently is yet another reason why tactical voting is idiotic in a Westminster election). I notice the excuses are being floated already “Nationalists dont care about Westminster” etc.

  • Skibo

    Ah James you are just being pedantic. Just because people stand for SF and people elect them does not make us all morons. At some stage you have to look past your ignorance and wonder why people vote for SF and why SF are so successful.

  • Katyusha

    The people who live in the Northern Irish countryside are as mystified by the peace walls as the rest of the world is. I daresay it is more a characteristic of the sectarian division of Belfast that will persist for centuries to come, than anything to do with NI as a whole and its constitutional settlement. But there is a difference between those inside the walls shouting No Surrender, and those on the outside. The latter at least wish for the walls to come down.

  • Skibo

    Aye John, mixed up my decades there 90s. Sure didn’t my own county Derry lift it in 93 with Down and Donegal before us and Down after us. Tyrone should have beaten Dublin after that but they were to wait for the next century.

  • Katyusha

    Well, T.E, would you rather live in Boston or South Belfast? Boston seems like a nice place, just sayin’?

    As someone with roots in the West myself, I always felt out of place in the South

  • Katyusha

    Irish agriculture will not collapse. It will readjust. Just like Australian and NZ agriculture readjusted itself to the Asian markets upon Britain’s entry to the EU (and exit from Imperial Preference), so too will Ireland reoreientate towards the EU on the UK’s exit. Irish agriculture has a brand premium in that market that it is currently underexploiting to an almost criminal degree.

  • Skibo

    SF used RHI as the DUP were so arrogant about it. It was a reaction to the arrogance more than anything else. Sure didn’t everyone know it was an issue after the election. Why did it take to January the next year for them to take advantage of it.
    SF do want progress but they see progress as a further step on the journey to reuniting Ireland. The do want compromise, they do want victory but they do not want humiliation.
    We had generations of humiliation within NI. It is not conducive to society

  • Skibo

    Gopher the Irish question has only been sidelined while TM strengthens her hold on Westminster. Once the negotiations start again, the North will be front and centre. A reformed Stormont may give the impression that we are content within the political system that is the UK. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • Katyusha

    Nonsense yourself, Mick. FÉ contests the issue of racism, and you bring up a used example of sectarianism at one club in mass organisation of several thousand clubs. If you have an actual academic study of inherent racism or sectarianism in the GAA, then it might be of value. Until then, I would suggest a comparison of such against other “cross-community” sporting codes that have had constant allegations of both racism and sectarianism made against them might not come off favourably.

  • Skibo

    Foot and Mouth was probably as big a crisis but the Agriculture industry got over it. They got over BSE too. Beef is now about to reenter the USA market and the Turkish market.

  • Enda

    That comment has got nothing to do with who I vote for, but given the choice I’d rather pick a moron to vote for than be told which moron is going to represent me.

  • Katyusha

    All doable.

    Well then do it. Now, please. It’s all already overdue.

  • Peggy kelly

    We live in hope

  • Skibo

    James of course they demand the same rights for all. I don’t see many British Ministers or DUP or UUP members demanding disclosure for people killed by the security forces or full disclosure on collusion.

  • Katyusha

    If this country was normal in the sense of politics (no green v orange) in my opinion the conservative party would be the biggest party in NI

    Ya misspelled Cumann na nGaedheal, ND. Although FF would give them a run for their money, but if there had been no civil war, they wouldn’t exist, after all.

    Notwithstanding the Irish roots of Na Tóraidhe, it’s hard to see how they, an essentially English nationalist party, would gain any votes in modern Ireland, just as they struggle in modern Scotland,

  • Katyusha

    That is very true, ND, and it is probably important to recongnise that the current clamour for an ILA has more to do with the totemic symbolism it has acquired as a mark of the failure of unionist politicians and the British government to honour their commitments, as it has to do with the Irish language. It has become a political symbol, and at this stage it doesn’t even matter about the specifics of the act. The only thing that is important is the DUP refusal to countenance it,

    Similar to the GAA, the Irish language can flourish on its own merits. As long as it is free from external persecution, it doesn’t need political support, although such support is welcome.

  • Katyusha

    Where is their campaign for Ulster Scots culture to receive parity of esteem? Or to stamp out racism in the GAA? Or to end the ridiculous education apartheid in NI?

    To answer each point in turn.
    Yes, Ulster Scots culture has equal equivalence with Irish culture. This does not mean that the “Ulster-Scots” dialect of English, or the cant constructed thereof, has equal equivalence with the Irish language.

    Or to stamp out racism in the GAA?

    Unlike association football, there is no widespread culture of racism in the GAA. The reason there isn’t a campaign to stamp it out is out of a lack of necessity for one. There isn’t a “kick racism out of swimming” campaign either.

    Or to end the ridiculous education apartheid in NI?

    As a beneficiary of a Catholic education, I’m in no hurry to stamp it out, I don’t really see how having an education system that is far superior to that found in GB is a demerit. To receive the equivalent standard of education that the Catholic grammars provide typically costs tens of thousands of pounds per year in England, and is the privilege of the privileged classes only. Rich and thick, as Beckett phrased it. It would seem to me that the English secondary education system is ridiculous, rather than the other way around.

  • eamoncorbett

    The difference between NI and Scotland Mick is , all the Scottish parties have a love and respect for the region they live in , the SNP may lose a few seats to Corbyns Labour but both parties don’t have a problem with Scotland per say . There are differences on the constitutional issue but none of the naked disdain that’s evident in the North . The constitutional issue bedevils the power sharing assembly,now more than ever because of the gains made by SF and the possibility of a hard Brexit, however there is no doubt in this scenario the people are the real losers .
    Jordy is correct in saying that a fully functional executive would extinguish all talk of a United Ireland . The biggest threat to SF would be a non sectarian,pro union , multi religious political party but the Alliance party has very little support in the cauldron that is Northern Ireland politics.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m sure he won’t but at the end of the day he’s the ageing leader of a small party that’s failed.

  • eamoncorbett

    The thing about direct rule is once it starts the onus is on the SOS to get talks up and running so that it can end , so I’m not sure what’s good about that ,and another thing what actual say do the people of NI have in such a situation , answer none whatsoever.

  • eamoncorbett

    Seems slightly colonial to me Mick, we like having authority but we don’t care to rule.

  • eamoncorbett

    Forget about legal reality the question you have to ask yourself is ,does it work ,yes or no.

  • eamoncorbett

    In the South SF can be crushed by the big two if they wish , it’s different in the North where mischief making goes unpunished.

  • eamoncorbett

    Wait till after June 8 when one party rule becomes the norm .

  • file

    I could name a few parties that would welcome that type of failure.

  • file

    In what way am I like a calf? Please explain.

  • file

    But Enda, it is easier to organise discontent, and rebellion, if you have a foreign power imposing government on you, rather than locally elected representatives being prevented from governing because their ‘colleagues’ still do not understand what power-sharing means.

  • file

    Good. Ground Zero is where we should stay. Ungovernable, unsustainable and irrelevant; the definition of Northern Ireland. The problems will not go away until the action that caused them – Partition – goes away.

  • file

    what about the music?

  • file

    so we are not at the base of the triangle if you’re talking to him, but we are at the base of the triangle if you’re talking to me?

  • Mark Petticrew

    South Belfast can be as cosmopolitan as this place can get with its student bars, coffee shops and leafy tree-lined streets, though I think people can be a bit misled by the BT9 stereotype.

    The BT9 postcode is in itself a good example of this; Stranmillis, Malone, and the Lisburn Road all fitting the suburban perception, but then there’s loyalist Taughmonagh – also within the BT9 postcode – showing that not all is as it seems in the south of the city.

  • james

    “At some stage you have to look past your ignorance and wonder why people vote for SF and why SF are so successful.”

    OK then, I will.

    I believe that the leader and his trusty AC advisors have lovingly designed a group, and a groupthink, complete with foundation myths and mythology, that is perfectly tailored to appeal to the very worst aspects of the Irish character (All people everywhere have their own versions of these weaknesses and dark mental corners – but in this case we are discussing the Irish version of the banality of evil).

    Having realized that weak people will do and say almost anything in their helpless devotion to a cult that will justify all of their worst qualities, make excuses for all of their failures, and create a handy scapegoat (here in the form of the unionist folk – though it could have just as easily been the Jews in the Soviet Union or Germany of the 30’s, or black people in the US of the 50’s) and throw rocks at it from the safety of the crowd, Gerry has created the perfect vehicle to do precisely those things for the gullible and the easily-misled.

    Gerry, Martin, and a raft of other less-well known but equally disreputable folks get rich and acquire power – and society, all the rest of us, you and me both, bear the crippling cost.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    The crocodile lady must be feeling very small so after 10 of her desciples were found
    unfit to continue in office by their constituents.

  • james

    The richest political party in Ireland? I’m sure they have plenty of other income streams..

  • MainlandUlsterman

    We all could. It’s not a compliment to them.

  • mickfealty

    100 years, and counting. How’s that working for you? 🤓

  • mickfealty

    All empty talk, certainly. People first, territory after. That’s how the Bunreacht describes it.

  • Gopher

    I agree there is little point going back to Stormont to share power, but thats just my personal opinion. I have read enough on here to understand that. Its a question of mandates now. SF rode the “RHI” and “Irish Language”, “Legacy” and “Marty” wave and waves like all waves run out of energy. Now with a new election the relative size of mandates will supercede the Assembly election and frame the post Westminister election negoiations. Sure if SF win that they will have the moral high ground to take whatever course they want, but if out mandated however the Assembly result is immateriel, its fresh elections on a new wave and take your pick Stormont or Direct Rule with a huge Conservative party.

  • mickfealty

    Just ignore it then? I get ya. 👀 🤓

  • mickfealty

    Too cynical for my blood Bonie. I know there’s an election on, but come on, be serious?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    As a matter of fact Katy I lived and worked in Charleston Boston for a year that is why I am a Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins Fan but there is no place like home and the back streets of Sandy Row !

  • Katyusha

    If you believe that there is a problem with racism in the GAA, or that the GAA are guilty of ignoring racism as an issue, then we’re all ears for you to pen a piece on it.

    Until then, you still haven’t explained why you think FÉ’s point is nonsense, or how your link to an old story relates to it. The fact you have to go back ten years to pick up an isolated incident of sectarianism which was long since resolved is itself telling.

  • mickfealty

    There are problems of that type in every organisation Kate.

  • Enda

    The point of an ILA is to promote the language, when something is promoted it has an excellent chance of going through a revival period. 10-15 years, fluent Irish speakers could rise by 20% or more.

    A Gaelic revival.

  • Enda

    96 years, and states can be created and fall within a few generations quite easily.

  • file

    It is not working at all, Mick. Is it working for you? Has it ever functioned properly in those 100 years? If so, why all the complaining? Apartheid existed for more than 100 years, did the fact of existing make it good, or to be welcomed? Ditto slavery.

  • file

    success if a weird definition of failure.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    Maybe, if Mick Collins took his time and not let Llyod George frighten him so much
    everyone might be better off today, 40 years went by and nobody cared how the
    minority were treated,until the civil rights movement came along followed by
    John Hume and Adams when they helped get rid of the sectarian regime at
    Stormont and the sectarian police force.

  • ted hagan

    You should be looking forward, not back. SF is just the other side of the coin to the DUP.
    Had Foster stepped aside over RHI would SF have been satisfied? I think the answer is obvIously No. SF would have simply pulled another rabbit out of the hat to being down the assembly. Fresh Start was an illusion created by the lies of both the DUP and SF for the sake of retaining power, not working together..

  • ted hagan

    You love your victimhood. Move on for chrissake. I think most agree that nationalists got a rough deal from the unionists. That while it certainly wasn’t apartheid, nationalists had a second-class status, that there was unionist paramilitary police force.
    But come on, wake up man. It’s 2017!

  • Old Mortality

    ‘as they have all the benefits of other countries productivity…’
    I think this counter-intuitive assertion needs a bit of explanation.

  • Old Mortality

    I think that’s more accurate. What would stop the Borders seceding from an independent Scotland, especially if it had a ‘hard’ border with England? Edinburgh less than 20 miles from the frontier would be nice for all those affluent fund managers who could avoid oppressive Scottish taxation by commuting across the border every day

  • Old Mortality

    What is the sporting equivalent of a ‘cupla focal’? A five minute, cameo appearance on the field once a month or so? That wouldn’t win many All-Irelands.

  • file

    Ted – I want it not to work, because I want rid of it. I am not a victim, do not feel victimised and do not think that NI was ever as bad as South Africa (I was using that example to refute Mick’s lazy comment about 100 years) and I have a nice wee life (employed by Her Majesty the Queen of the Disintegrating Kingdom, actually, but sure she has to spend her money somewhere). I just want my nice wee life to be in a united Ireland.

  • North Down dup

    The Irish language act is very much supported down south, only 2 percent are fluent

  • the keep

    Overturn democracy you mean and I thought it was only Unionists that were supposed to have a lose grasp of democracy?

  • the keep

    Yes they do did you forget about expenses?

  • the keep

    No racism in the GAA really?

  • the keep

    Well you hardly work if you are a civil servant prepare to lose your job as a civil servant if there is a united Ireland.

  • Skibo

    That is simple, using what you have any time you can and adding to it any chance you get. The sporting equivalent is getting the wains out into the back garden and playing catch and kick, showing how to pick the ball up properly and how to hand pass and kick pass with both hands and feet.
    What you are trying to do is introduce a want to learn.

  • Enda

    I didn’t forget about expenses, I know they claim those for constituency duties, but they’re not on the payroll.

  • Enda

    Bully for them if they do, goes to show how much success and influence they have. None of that cash comes from your masters in Whitehall, so you need not worry. Or maybe you should?

  • ted hagan

    I would like a united Ireland also but would much prefer both sides working in some kind of harmony and constructiveness in the interim. And that interim could last for some considerable time, In the meanwhile unity certainly won’t be magicked out of the air by the Brexit controversy.

  • james

    “None of that cash comes from your masters in Whitehall, so you need not worry. Or maybe you should?”

    Hmm we shouldn’t worry that Sinn Fein are raking in the funds, eh?

    Well, personally, I’m not overly worried – assuming the portion that they soak up from state funds is all legit and accountable – but it probably would concern me if I was a SF voter.

  • file

    Well ted, have the unionist political parties shown in any way that they know how to work in harmony. Over the past 90 odd years? If they haven’t, does there not come a time when we should accept they are incapable fo that, and thus incapable of government? And therefore there can be no government by locals, because not having unionists in it would not be democratic. So the place is ungovernable and needs to end.

  • file

    I am not a civil servant. i work for Her Majesty The Queen of Somewhere. And I do not understand your point.

  • Katyusha

    The trend in Ireland when people come up with a bad decision with reference to the EU tends to be “Are they sure? Let us ask them again”.

    In the UK’s case, I’m wondering if a significant proportion of those who voted leave only subsequently realised the gravity of their decision.

  • Katyusha

    Indeed. I lived on the “cosmopolitan” side of the Lisburn Rd. for years, and never quite gelled with it. It was never the Belfast of my youth. Belfast is a parochial city, all in all, and the areas that presume they aren’t parochial are the most soulless.

  • lizmcneill

    Tory MP is a job description, not a race.

  • ted hagan

    Simple reply. Have Republicans ever shown they wanted to work in harmony over the past ninety odd years?

  • file

    That is ntota reply. That is a question. Are you a culchie? (They always answer a question with a question.) My answer to your question is yes … have you not seen SF at the Cenotaph, or at Armistice Day ceremonies in the Assembly, or similar …

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    It’s 2017 and still the Unionist DUP is dragging as many feet as they can muster to hold on to a dead supremacy.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Scottish oil and whisky for just a start, taxes go to London, while using their Westminster overwhelming majority to impose Trident and try out the poll tax etc. etc.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    For the same reason that there is no point in Stranraer declaring it’s independence from Wigtonshire or whatever they are calling it now.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    The majority in England and Wales who voted ‘leave’ are too stupid to realise how stupid they are.

  • ted hagan

    Yea, but they don’t believe all that Cenotaph stuff, and who can blame them as far them as I’m concerned, but they put on some sort of face to present to an outside audience that says ‘Oh, look how tolerant we are and those nasty Prods still hate us’.
    Look, I’m not fooled by any bigotry, whether it be from the jerks in the DUP or the jerks in SF. It’s all humbug.Open your eyes and look for something different besides tribal politics..

  • ted hagan

    Yea, well at least it’s not made up of a bunch of assassins, car bombers and child-killers.

  • file

    I do Ted. i spend most of my time NOT thinking about politics and have many non-tribal hobbies. I only come on Slugger when I am meant to be doing work.But thanks for the concern.

  • ted hagan

    I like your style.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Are you telling us Mick, that a bunch of career politicians whose party is currently under investigation in up to 20 seats for electoral criminality, and who despite repeatedly saying it would never happen, now call an election because the choice is either that or losing their majority in parliament because of the aforesaid criminality, does not fit the first two parts of my description? As for the third, look no further than John Redwood and Boris Johnston (although Boris fits the first two as well).

  • file

    Well, I like your non-capitals.

  • mickfealty

    No.

  • mickfealty

    We are where are John.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Keep up the good work, Mick. As I think I said before, SOT is a refreshingly honest site, and the btl comments are usually good, well argued and not least of all, civil.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Way to go Ted – not! Not much chance of tolerance and reconciliation between the two sides with that sort of comment. This does not chime well with your previous comment: “Sadly, many of the posts here betray the same bigotry and intolerance that, as a Presbyterian, I grew up detesting”

  • ted hagan

    Hardly. Assassins, child killers and car bombers operated on both sides of the sectarian divide.