“The peace process always has to be broken down, has to be in a state of crisis for it to be protected.”

Sinn Fein continue to throw every last stick of furniture at the wall in order to keep attention. Declan Kearney had this to say about the DUP and the British Government:

…both want the political institutions back up again, of course; but they don’t want to have to tackle institutionalised bigotry, sectarianism or intolerance within the North.

In recent weeks they and others have been maliciously saying publicly and privately, that in the absence of Martin McGuinness, Sinn Féin does not want a deal which re-establishes the political institutions; is seeking to humiliate the DUP; and is weaponising the Irish language.

They have instead attempted to deflect away from their joint opposition against rights-based government and society in the North.

Meantime, Colum Eastwood, despite the fact that Sinn Fein is giving the impression it’s never heard of this incipient anti-Brexit pact with the Greens (Alliance has said no and SF appears somewhat conflicted about coming forward).

Elsewhere Anthony McIntyre features in a piece by Simon Carswell that was published last week’s Irish Times which perhaps suggests why Sinn Fein after the highs of the March election seem to be grasping for reasons to blame everyone else but themselves for the breakdown:

McIntyre sees the argument that unionists would be better off economically in a united Ireland within the EU than they would in a post-Brexit UK as a “crass case of economic reductionism”. He pours cold water on the possibility of a nationalist majority in the North voting for Irish reunification in light of the unionists losing their majority for the first time in last month’s Assembly elections.
Unionist opposition to a united Ireland is, as he sees it, considerably stronger than nationalist opposition to staying within the UK if treated equally. “Anybody who has ever fought in the Provisional IRA, as distinct to those who hid in the Provisional IRA, or joined after the ceasefires, will never live to see a united Ireland,” he says. “I think it’s all guff.”
As for the warnings made by diplomats, bureaucrats and Eurocrats about the threats to the peace process from Brexit, McIntyre says it is similar to Sinn Féin’s use of the peace process to expand its political influence, where “the process must always undermine the peace”.
“The peace process is dead if you can’t throw up the old monster of potential violence,” he says. “The peace process always has to be broken down, has to be in a state of crisis for it to be protected.”
I’ve never heard it put so succinctly, or accurately. What’s the worst that can happen? Drift, poor government, and detachment from voters. That worked well back in the 70s when people were genuinely angry about genuinely deep inequalities.
Now, says McIntyre:
Where’s the insurrectionary energy going to come from? The cops and the security services have been so on top of the armed republican groups that have been operating in the wake of the Provisional IRA. What have they achieved?
Maybe a lot of huff and puff – but nothing is going to get blown down.
One indelible fact of recent history remains, it was Sinn Fein whol pulled the walls down, and it doesn’t look to me if they know what they want in order to build them back up. That fact will weigh heavier on them as time moves on.
Another blow to the union. Here’s the BBC report on this afternoon’s passing of the Northern Ireland (Minister Appointments) Bill:

Chair of the Northern Ireland Committee Laurence Robertson expresses concern that political instability is putting off companies who might otherwise choose to invest in Northern Ireland.

Most people don’t want to see direct rule, he says, but argues that if the alternative is “chaos” people will chose the former. He says that is ironic that the party opposed to direct rule (ie Sinn Féin) will be responsible for bringing it about.

And giving power you lauded to your base less than a year ago, is not exactly what you might call ‘putting it up to the Unionists’:

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  • T.E.Lawrence

    I don’t think he proposes or reconises that such prosperty will exist but what he does reconise is that a 32 county All Ireland economically is not viable and the current 6 (UKNI) will sink the 26 (ROI) ?

  • Mark Petticrew

    The fact that SF are making an Irish Language Act such a totemic issue suggests they’re running out of live ammunition.

    For me, the current prominence of this issue ultimately wouldn’t be so if not for the concerted attempts over the years from those whose sole intention was to obstruct any form of legislation in the first place, combined with an innate lack of respect for language itself; the seasoned curry-my-yoghurteer Gregory Campbell being a particular personification of both of these things.

    Indeed, whilst an Irish Language Act patently isn’t in the same league as health or education, the issue itself has been hovering about in the background of our politics for the guts of two decades now with effectively no movement on it. The stifling effect of this has elevated the Act onto a sort of pedestal of its own; culminating in what appears to be an intent by Sinn Féin to finalise the issue once and for all.

  • Peggy kelly

    It’s unlikely that he was a sworn in full on member or the security services would have got him at some point, that’s just my view.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It could also be a lack of solid enough evidence to have a good chance of a conviction. Not that there isn’t enough evidence, there is loads, but the relevant people with the knowledge won’t testify against him.

    I’m sure the police are doing their job to the best of their ability, but it’s like when the police in Italy have struggled against the Mafia. Once a decade or so a new political broom comes in, says we’re going after the bosses and throws some money at it – and that’s when you get the arrests and the convictions. The rest of the time the police have to struggle on with limited resources and other priorities.

    When I say “political interference”, more accurately I mean it’s a lack of political backing and funding for the police to go on what would be a huge and very expensive push to arrest the big IRA and Loyalist criminals of the Troubles. The political will isn’t there, because I think London (supported by Dublin and Washington) is minded to “let sleeping dogs lie” and focus on other issues. I wouldn’t agree with them that these dogs are sleeping, they have been voted into government, which has created the ongoing crisis for democracy and bridge-building we find ourselves in.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    They were good enough at intelligence to mess up the IRA big time.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    To regard the security forces as the main problem in NI during the Troubles years doesn’t square with the facts though. At a very basic level, 3 times more of them were killed than they killed.

    And the numbers who were killed by the security forces – even including those who died as a result of the legal use of force, which was most of those deaths – is around a sixth of the numbers killed by Republican paramilitaries and around a tenth of the numbers killed by terrorists overall.

    That’s quite apart from the deluge of bombings, punishment beatings and all the rest of it. You would have to have total lack of perspective – or dare I suggest a bias against the security forces – to paint them as even in some kind of equal conflict with the terrorists, let alone the main problem.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Not having that, Peggy. Here’s where Johnny intimated the Shinners do not have to compromise, in the post I was responding to:
    “I dispute entirely the claim that SF never wanted stability. I believe this is a DUP line desinged to cover up its own inadequacies and one that just doesnt stand up to scrutiny. The facts are that SF worked the institutions successfully for ten years. They worked the executive, they worked the assembly, they worked the committees and they worked the north south ministerial council for ten years and during that time no one accused them of trying to destabilise Northern Ireland. During this time MMG also stood shoulder to shoulder beside the chief constable condemning republican violence, met the Queen and attended various Britsh war commemoration services. Hardly the mark of a party trying to destabilise the place.”
    So, a fairly fullsome defence, I’d say, of SF’s record in government and a clear attempt to rebut my comment that SF need to look to themselves and not just the DUP. Remember, I’m arguing that both they and the DUP need to compromise – Johnny is disagreeing. Next Johnny wrote a paragraph criticising the DUP for various destabilising things they have done (some of which, by the way, I would also criticise the DUP for).

    He then went on:
    “The criticism of Sinn Fein in this regard is just not supported by facts and therefore is incompletely disingenuous. Sinn Fein has made it perfectly clear what its issues are and they are in the main about rights, equality and Irish culture, issues which are perfectky legitimate to pursue and issues which could have been delivered in the last assembly if it had not been for the DUPs blocking of them. The problem therefore lies entirely at the door of the DUP.”
    That last sentence – suggests rather that Johnny thinks SF does not have to compromise, no? His words, remember, not mine.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You said, “The problem therefore lies entirely at the door of the DUP.”
    That was after a long and spirited defence of SF in which not one criticism of their position was put forward.

  • file

    Yeah, Peggy, wouldn’t it be a laugh if it turned out Adams was telling the truth after all, given the hysteria his denials of membership cause?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    well, some of them were agreed and some not, it seems. There seems to be a fairly credible case that Hain gave the nod to an ILA bilaterally with SF, without the DUP being actually involved. Not the only private deal he did with SF either. SF owes the other parties for years of back door deal-making the rest of us were locked out of. I hate to bring up OTRs again …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    They both peddle an adolescent form of politics. All about what we can get, no real grasp of responsibility or the compromises of the grown-up world.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    if so, a bad choice – the DUP can credibly claim not to have agreed to it.

  • MainlandUlsterman
  • MainlandUlsterman

    ha, yes right – see below for the unravelling …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    He’s welcome to sue me if it’s not true. I would literally bet my house on it.

  • Fear Éireannach

    A 32 county Ireland is perfectly viable, in such a state why should Newry be less prosperous than Dundalk or Enniskillen less prosperous than Cavan? Gudgin is merely parroting the current unionist line that British rule has made such a mess of NI that the transition to normality would have to cross such a large gap as to present an insurmountable short term problem.

    He is right that this transition is a problem, but if a solution is not found then we will be left with not only a sectarian statelet, but a poor one.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think there’s something close to unanimity among writers on the IRA that Adams was not only a member but a senior member of the IRA for many years. Certainly Sharrock and Devenport’s biography was unequivocal on that. Security experts all say it. And you even struggle to find a Republican who will deny with it a straight face.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think you’re safe there

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Given that that is exactly what nearly everyone believes is true, it seems you may need to have another think about the man and about the nature of the work the security and intelligence services did. If they were the kind of people you claim, it is rather amazing so many IRA leaders are alive and thriving, in their own wee way.

  • Anon Anon

    Doesn’t matter. Marks them as being cute and trustworthy, job done. Plus them it moves to the British Government for not keeping their commitments.


  • Katyusha

    Hold on, T.E., I’ll just travel in my time machine back to 1989.
    Why the burning question is not whether a united Germany is desirable, but if it is affordable

    Or the late 1940’s
    Why the burning question is not whether a National Helath Service is desirable, but if it is affordable

    or the 1920s
    Why the burning question is not whether an Irish republic is desirable, but if it is affordable

    or indeed, back to the 1800s
    Why the burning question is not whether the abolition of slavery is desirable, but if it is affordable

    The simple answer is, if something is worth having, its worth paying for. For any constitutional change, there will always be naysayers worried about how it will affect their stock options or bank balance. Ultimately revolutions are achieved by revolutionaries, not accountants.

    Those who went out to fight in the Easter Rising did so in the full knowledge they would probably pay with their lives; we’ve come to a sorry state if the future generations they fought for are unwilling to pay the cost from their pockets or credit cards for what is a sound future investment.

  • Hawk

    What I understand from the above exchange is that you are happy to use the Lucid poll results when it suits your argument, but critical of Lucid poll results when it doesn’t.

    Can we all just admit that nobody has the faintest clue how a referendum would turn out in 10 years. Would save a lot of ‘pontificating’.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    But why play down what Irish Catholic terrorists were doing in your name and play up the much lower level of criminal activity by state forces? I have no problem condemning Loyalist terrorists unequivocally – every single bit of violence they engaged in was wrong and these groups had no right to hurt anyone. I can’t see why you won’t condemn nationalist terrorists in the same terms – am I being unreasonable?

  • lizmcneill

    Didn’t the PSNI publicly publish their concerns over policing a harder border?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I wasn’t arguing the issue doesn’t work for SF. Just that it’s partly based on a lie.

  • Anon Anon

    Well it’s not really. An ILA was in At Andrews, and the DUP agreed to St Andrews. It’s a credible denial only to those who want to hear it.

    If the situation was reversed, the DUP wouldn’t accept that slipperiness, and neither would you.

  • Mark Petticrew

    What I understand from the above exchange is that you are happy to use the Lucid poll results when it suits your argument, but critical of Lucid poll results when it doesn’t.

    In mentioning the date of LucidTalk’s September 2016 poll, I’m not criticising the poll itself, rather I’m merely drawing attention to the fact that the polling results were prior to events of significance – exit of the single market being flouted in October 2016 followed by Theresa May’s explicit intention to do just that in January 2017 – which may make some northerners that bit more inclined to say ‘yes’ in a 2017 opinion poll on Irish unity; this being, in my opinion, a fairly reasonable point to make.

    Indeed, if I have criticisms for any poll, it is with the December poll that I’ve actually used as part of my above argument, for I – as opposed to the alignment of 4 political outcomes in order of preference as was done in the December one – would’ve preferred a simpler poll done in a similar format to that of the September poll; a question requiring a straight up ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to Irish unity, giving us hard figures through which we could more accurately compare the binary responses of people in the here and now to the September percentage of 31.

    Can we all just admit that nobody has the faintest clue how a referendum would turn out in 10 years. Would save a lot of ‘pontificating’.

    Obviously none of us know for certain how exactly things are going to play out over the coming decade, but I don’t think there can be any doubt that the vote to leave the EU has provided united Irelanders with an opportunity; an opportunity from which some traction has already been achieved.

    For instance, compare the support for Irish unity in pre-Brexit polls in a 2013 Ipsos MORI poll (21%) and a 2014 Life and Times poll (19%), to a post-Brexit poll carried out in September 2016 by Ipsos MORI (26%) as well as the aforementioned LucidTalk one (31%).

  • NotNowJohnny

    I’m not sure I follow you here. My post was not a long spirited defence of Sinn Fein. My post was a long spirited rebuttal of your claim that “Sinn Fein never wanted stability”. Despite me taking the time to present a very strong case you didn’t address or acknowledge any of the points I put forward but rather changed the focus of the debate to something else entirely and started talking about terrorists. For goodness sake. I really do get tired of the DUP rhetoric and the refusal to debate the point in question. You know I challenged another unionist here on the very same point I challenged you on (SF not wanting stability) and his response was that I was just upset because so many Catholics now supported the union. You really couldn’t make it up. Is it any wonder the DUP gets so many votes. By the way I also think it is worth clarifying that when I said that the blame lies entirely at the door of the DUP, that was said clearly in the context of the collapse of the executive.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I don’t think anyone was suggesting that SF isn’t working towards a United Ireland. But I’m glad you agree with my main point that they aren’t working to destabilise NI. Some people here seem to struggle to differentiate between the two.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    There is a big centre, if it can get itself in shape.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It’s all about proportionality and a sense of perspective. To be honest I think the SDLP often over-emphasised security force failings at the time and tended to underplay the role of nationalist ideology – and indeed nationalist terror – itself in driving the Troubles (which much irritated unionists). For our part, unionists were often too willing to overlook over the top and even illegal behaviour by elements of the security forces. I think there were understandable reasons for each, but they were both wrong.

    I don’t think I’m talking in absolutist terms here at all. There were, however, choices to be made in the Troubles and we should be big enough now with the passage of time and with cooler heads to admit where we got it wrong.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I notice you’re still not condemning Republican terrorism in the Troubles unequivocally. I would love to be wrong on that, please make me so …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The context of this conversation is the political instability we now have after SF collapsed the executive. It has published a list of issues it wants its way on – some fine, some not – which it says must be satisfied before it will go back. My point was that other parties could equally publish lists of things they would have liked to have happened, had SF not blocked them. There is an imbalance in the way the impasse is being presented by SF, some not untypical victim-playing over issues where there is legitimate democratic disagreement between parties. Some of their points are fair enough but insisting on the whole list is not sustainable. And I’d suggest if they are making demands of others they need to be willing to address issues they for their part have dodged, particularly Troubles legacy stuff (which is where their support of Troubles terrorism is relevant – that ain’t going away as an issue).

    On the stability point, you did make a spirited defence of SF’s record and I’m not saying they haven’t worked the GFA institutions. It’s the way they’ve done it and their frequent manufacturing of crises, as noted by McIntyre and many others, as well as their history and ideology, that leads one to the conclusion they aren’t fully committed to stability and see instability as rather useful for them politically – a tool to be used regularly.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Is it slippery for them to say they didn’t agree to it when it seems that is correct? The truth seems to be that it was fudged, kicked down the road, through this mechanism of Hain agreeing to it without the DUP and bunging it in a schedule. If there was actual genuine agreement then between SF and the DUP, I don’t think we’d be talking about the issue now. But look I think there needs to be some form of Irish language legislation and I think the DUP has been stupid and wrong to play this the way they have.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Those experience sound awful and you have my sympathy but the question was, will you unequivocally condemn the Republican violence of the Troubles years?

    I have no problem condemning illegality by Loyalists and even the security forces. Are you able to reciprocate?

  • Nevin

    “If they can’t govern under the system they invented, then they should not even stand for election due to lack of competency.”

    Local party leaders will have had limited opportunities to adjust the proposals put in front of them. Signing off for some may have been little more than the choice of the lesser of two evils.

  • grumpy oul man

    You comdem Unionist terrorists in what could only be discribed as a meal mouthed manner.
    You refuse to admit that the Unionist violence from 1966 to 1969 was a major influence on what followed, you then push the line that Unionist violence was reactive.
    As I have said before, you believe that Unionist violence had cause but no effect.
    You also excuse Unionist polticians links with Unionist terror groups, with the ” well they didn’t do it all the time” so no you don’t really comdem loyalist violence.
    Certainly not in any meaniful way.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    So you’re not condemning Republican terrorism?
    Fine but it does kind of knock you out of most arguments.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Refusal to condemn IRA noted.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some further rise in support for Irish unity, I predicted after Brexit it was likely to galvanise nationalist sentiment so be more where you would expect it, mid-30s per cent (but unlikely to go over 40). If anything it’s had less impact than I thought though. But yes a more up to date figure would be good. The September figures though were taken in the wake of Brexit; the small size of the nationalist bounce must have concerned nationalist politicians. Speculating now but I wonder if it helped SF make up its mind to collapse the executive?

  • Mark Petticrew

    I don’t expect to see it hit 40% myself, but as was illustrated in LucidTalk’s December poll, an avenue ultimately exists through which this could potentially occur; 44% of those sampled having shown an interest in Irish unity in one form or another.

    Though it isn’t a hard figure like 31% is, there is a particular significance that can be drawn from this total of 44%. In similar fashion to the 41% who said they’d like to see a united Ireland within their lifetime in a 2015 B&A poll, I see it as reflecting the extent of those inclined towards Irish unity; effectively a broad gene pool of united Irelanders – some being steadfast supporters whereas others have a more apathetic character.

    Anyway, thanks to this upcoming election, we’ll have to wait a little bit longer until a fresh batch of hard figures are produced again; LucidTalk having tweeted me saying that they’re delaying all polling on Irish unity until later in the year.