Sinn Fein’s tactical playbook does not include what to do if unionists play generous and smart

So Brexit, eh?  How’s that going for you? Will it affect your vote? Or is it business as usual? Signs are from England that since it is still impossible to define what Brexit looks like the strong Remain position the Lib Dems took isn’t paying off well for them.

In Scotland, the whole thing is being run aggressively as an anti-SNP/anti-#ScotRef referendum. The SNP is protected by the ongoing weakness of Scottish Labour, yet those who predicted the Tories were going nowhere have had their minds forcibly changed by the council results.

It’s a useful reminder that the historical determinism that has dominated not just Northern Irish Nationalist politics, but a large chunk of nationalist commentary, north and south, is really something of a naive fallacy.

Nationalism needs a longer vision, not a short-term plan on the basis that Brexit is a winning lottery ticket blown in on a wind of supposed unionist stupidity. That supposition that their rivals were thick has served SF well with its home base. But it’s no route map to a united Ireland.

This purblindness was the subject of Eoghan Harris’ Sindo column on Sunday, in which he laid out on the sheer invisibility of works of good authority when done by Unionists in the eyes of the southern Irish establishment…

According to his own lights (not widely shared it has to be said)…

The DFA’s default negotiating position is that the Northern Ireland problem is primarily between us and the Brits. The democratic position – and I would argue the moral one – is that the problem is primarily between us and Northern Protestants.

RTE shares the default DFA view, with its codicil that Sinn Fein’s take on the peace process must be preserved at any price. That was why RTE missed an important peace move – as distinct from peace process move – in the week leading up to the Brussels “unity” bluster.

For two days running, Arlene Foster risked the wrath of her wilder DUP members by reaching out to Northern nationalists.

Firstly, she visited Our Lady’s Grammar School Newry, and tried out her few words of Irish. The following day she took a bigger risk by writing a piece for The Irish News which supported a soft border.

RTE failed to publicise Foster’s pluralist moves. Instead, it pumped hot air into the “unity” balloon. To the delight of Sinn Fein, frantic for a distraction from Foster’s flanking movement.

Luckily, The Irish News, which deals in real news, gave Foster positive front- page coverage. [Emphasis added]

This sort of narrative cannot be made to disappear just by ignoring it or not talking about it. It was easier when the DUP leader was acting stupidly and arrogantly to dismiss them and re-assert the favoured (and electorally beneficial) narrative.

But Harris continues:

Tom Kelly presciently noted what no southern pundit has seen so far – that Sinn Fein is struggling tactically to respond to Foster’s new moves.

“Sinn Fein has still to find anyone within their ranks capable of matching the generosity of the late Martin McGuinness to reciprocate such moves.”

The most successful stratagem in the reiterative Prisoner’s dilemma is tit for tat. By those lights, I judged Robinson’s binning the Maze project at the conclusion of the flag dispute as a punishment for nationalism failing to settle for a compromise in Belfast City Council.

But it is important also to reward good behaviour of your opponents. By the same rule, Mrs Foster’s aggressively good-natured rapprochement with the Irish language requires a reciprocal response from nationalism. Something most notable by its absence

If the long term plan was to haul the place down for the next four years (a statement perhaps apocryphally ascribed to the SF Finance Minster as the institutions were crashing before Christmas), Sinn Fein’s tactical playbook does not include what to do if unionists play generous and smart.

Harris finishes with a reference to Bertie Ahern and the art of compromise (or politics as it is known elsewhere):

Bertie Ahern’s critics will hate to hear this, but acting as his own foreign minister, Ahern has the best record in defying the DFA mandarins in order to reach out to unionists and treat them as neighbours, not pawns.

Let me select just one example, taken from George Mitchell’s memoir.

In November 1997, when Foreign Minister David Andrews, following the DFA dictat, said publicly that any Strand 2 cross border bodies would have “strong executive functions not unlike a government”.

David Trimble objected to this sly piece of pan-nationalism. In April 1998, Ahern repudiated Andrews – who gallantly did what had to be done for peace and apologised. Against DFA advice of course.

No plan for a united Ireland which either abjures or proactively obstructs the active participation of unionists in its development has a pup’s chance of going anywhere. That may sound impossible, but the constitutional settlements of 1997 mean there’s little viable alternative.

As Harris says, “the problem is primarily between us and Northern Protestants“, constantly stopping the game and calling for the ref to adjudicate cannot hide the fact that no such plan or formula exists.

  • mickfealty

    No. Play nice is all. You’ll have to wait for that acknowledgement. Your guys were the ones who wrecked the institutions after all. 😉

  • johnny lately

    All victims of terrorism are the same well except in the eyes of unionists of course and those who wish to divert and detract from the truth. Thousands of paramilitaries on both sides of the religious divide, republican and loyalist were convicted through the courts for their parts in the past conflict very very few if any members of the RUC or British intelligence have been charged never mind convicted for their parts in the hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of murders carried out by their state controlled agents.

    On the one hand we have Boris Johnston demanding that the Libyan government compensate victims of Libyan state sponsored terrorism in Northern Ireland while at the same time attempting to brush under the carpet the British governments own complicity in state sponsored terrorism in Ireland.

    What’s Sinn Fein hiding and if they are hiding anything what laws or what legislation are they using or cobbling together to ensure those actions you claim they are hiding never see the light of day ?

  • Donagh

    10 years of playing nice Mick and it wasn’t ‘reciprocated’ nor hardly acknowledged by unionism. Repeating the same mistakes and expecting unionism to somehow behave differently would be insane to paraphrase Einstein. DUP intransigence wrecked the institutions. SF hopefully have learned the lesson. Our constituency deserve and expect more, the DUP can fend for themselves.

  • Roger

    I may take a read some time. But it has no bearing on what I’ve said anyway. If you’re for the ‘principle of consensus’ ignoring the fact there no consensus re hoisting the flag in the first place seems pretty selective.

  • mickfealty

    I was there too you know. 154 days of no Executive over P&J (because the party lied to its own activists), protests over a welfare amelioration programme you’d already agreed to? Telling one story to the Executive and another to their base is SF’s problem, surely?

  • hollandia

    The North is far from normal. No controversy there.

  • hollandia

    Because that’s the logical extension of your post.

  • Madra Uisce

    The report also suggested that designated days was the preferred way to go which is what then happened.

  • mickfealty

    Preferred by… “the majority”?

  • Karl

    So …. youre …. advocating rule by the….minority….?
    Help me out here.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Stephen, “What’s not black and white about a murderous terror campaign”…..

    Of course it is not simply SF who engage in an edited version of our history. Have you encountered the “Shipyard expulsions” of mid to late 1920 and the bitter grass roots Unionist murder campaign against constitutionalist nationalists in Belfast between 1920-22? Over this period, despite what Carson and others claimed, SF and the IRA started out as inconsequential bodies in the north and only developed a strong presence under the intense stimulation of popular and promiscuous Unionist violence against Catholics, many of them ex-service men.

    The point I’m endeavouring to make is that a habit, an encoding, of murderous terror was woven into the very fabric of the partition state from its inception, and that in their resort to violence the IRA were only reacting to the clear lesson taught by Unionism that violence seemingly succeeds in any political debate with Westminster. This pattern began with the Unionist recourse to the threat of violence when bested politically by the old IPP through constitutional means with the legally “unstoppable” Third Home Rule Bill, and found open expression with the actual intimidatory violence employed by Unionist mobs and members of the Special Constabulary during 1920-22 period. In a letter written around 1918 the medievalist Helen Waddell wrote to an old friend of her father that “What Sir Edward Carson did was to break down the hold that constitutional government had at last won in Ireland. He proved that threat of physical force could paralyse ‘Government by the will of the majority.'” While I have always, like her, been a personal opponent of violence in all its forms, I simply cannot hear that old canard that SF alone is somehow to blame for an unfolding pattern of local violence which was first seeded with Unionism’s own recourse to arms in 1912. Our history has never been simply black and white.

  • Barneyt

    That fear or unwillingness to express the truth extends to the more eastern shores too

  • mickfealty

    It’s called power sharing. Oh, no. #HeadForTheHills!

  • Skibo

    Power sharing was not mentioned for the Councils.

  • Skibo

    Mick can you see at all that Nationalism compromised. Unionism did not and in the end raised a sectarian mob to hunt down the Alliance party for achieving a compromise.

  • eamoncorbett

    In my opinion , yes , it would be futile to go back to the past.

  • mickfealty

    I know. So, this compromise you were talking about? How did that work then? Get a majority, and hammer it through regardless?

  • mickfealty

    It’s not a compromise if the other side does not consent, and the whole city then goes to hell in a handcart. Is it?

  • Mark Petticrew

    Seems a non-issue these days. We sorted it all out in 1998.

    From a nationalist perspective, 1998 is more so a checkpoint in the journey towards a united Ireland than an end in itself; the “A Nation Once Again” spirit having never died out. For instance, 21% of those sampled in an April 2017 LucidTalk poll said Irish unity was their top concern, whilst 44% in a 2016 December LT poll stated a preference for a united Ireland in one form or another; illustrating that Irish unification is still very much an issue these days.

    Indeed, the fact that the constitutionalisation of Scottish politics is being described as the ‘Ulsterisation’ of Scotland epitomises just how much of an issue it remains within Ulster itself. Whilst it may have relaxed in its prominence over the last decade or so, last year’s vote to leave the EU has evidently changed that; Irish unity experiencing a rise in the polls post-Brexit, as well as an increase in its public discussion.

    And presumably the fair power-sharing arrangements of the GFA won’t be there any more to keep the balance in N Ireland.

    To my mind, the 6 county jurisdiction is a relic of unionist numbers from the 1920s; those numbers no longer ordain, resulting in the unionists of today being without the control unionism once had, and an increasing nationalist bloc operating a system that they don’t really want.

    In view of this, my suggestion would be to cut them loose from the jurisdiction that binds them, it being the platform of our intractable politics, and the exploration of Swiss-style localism as a possible replacement to the 6 county region and its related institutions.

    The autonomy that unionists in their respective strongholds would benefit from through a form of cantonisation could, it is hoped, work to lessen their inevitable hostility to a future all-Ireland state, though even more preferable would be to see this explored as a possible arrangement to create in the here and now.

    It’s worth saying that I’m not the only one who’s grown disillusioned with Stormont; less than half of those sampled (45%) in the aforementioned April LT poll wanted to see the institutions back up and running after the June election. Exploring possible alternatives to said institutions when there’s such a lack of confidence in them therefore seems only logical in light of this.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Keep religion out of politics – you know it makes sense.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Brexit, as the EU have told May “cannot be a success”. It’s axiomatic.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Unfortunately, neither do May and her (LOL) ‘team’.

  • ted hagan

    The EU cannot allow the UK to exit on advantageous terms compared with other EU countries. However it has only a certain amount of influence in dictating the success of the UK outside of the EU and it must surely realise it is advantageous to both parties to strike a reasonable deal.

  • ted hagan

    Same old, same old from Feeney. He’s James Kelly revisited for the Irish News. Fionnuala O’Connor is the same. Claptrap for the nationalist masses and a pay cheque at the end.

  • ted hagan

    What Sinn Fein can’t explain away is why, this time last year, DUP were acceptable partners and now they are not.
    Forget RHI, because Sinn Fein seem to have conveniently forgotten about that too. Let’s have some honesty, and that might include disenchantment with Martin McGuinness, the truth that dare not speak its name within Sinn Fein.

  • Skibo

    And who’s fault was that? Nationalism moved, Unionism did not, who was at fault? Unionism was not looking for compromise, they were looking for capitulation.

  • Skibo

    To compromise is to make a concession. Nationalism were looking for no flag and made a concession to have the flag flying for 18 days. That was a major change for Republicans, to vote for the flying of the Union flag over Belfast City Council.
    Unionism did not offer such a concession and so no compromise with Unionism was possible.

  • Shinner O’Toole

    It is perfectly obvious to anyone not infected with indobotitis. It means today what it meant back in 1968. If Unionism cannot treat their neighbours with respect and equality then they will not be allowed into government in the six counties.

  • Shinner O’Toole

    wasting your time, he is far happier dehumanising Shinners and goading them on their record of trying to keep the show on the road rather than acknowledge reality. Self haters are always the most bitter of soupers.

  • Shinner O’Toole

    The fact that you have to highlight an occasion when you believe “unionists play generous and smart” just goes to show how tragically rare it is. It was nothing more than a ploy to cover up Queen Snarlene’s visit to the peasants at school while her fellow snarls were organising amnesty’s for killer soldiers or praying for the death of nationalist public representatives. Good job, Enoch would be proud.

  • mickfealty
  • MainlandUlsterman

    “To my mind, the 6 county jurisdiction is a relic of unionist numbers from the 1920s; those numbers no longer ordain, resulting in the unionists of today being without the control unionism once had, and an increasing nationalist bloc operating a system that they don’t really want.”
    So that’s it, the Good Friday Agreement commitments no longer apply to nationalism? Those weren’t made a century ago but less than 20 years ago – and were set up not on the basis of unionist demographic dominance but approximate parity. If nationalist parties are going to walk away from the GFA they are free to do so – but let them be honest with the public and the international community about it. They will be walking away from a fair deal it took huge international and intra-NI effort to construct and all because they are unwilling to wait as they agreed to to get a majority for a united Ireland.

    32 county nationalists kidded themselves on too much back in 1998 that the GFA was a big victory for them. And after power sharing got under way, the reality of a balanced deal, and working in stable environment, has not been to their liking. The dynamic they told themselves was there in the GFA towards Irish unity was not there in reality. Some of us were flagging up the apparent dissonance between agreement terms and nationalist rhetoric back in 1998. The nationalist take on the agreement was always built on a good amount of wishful thinking.

    There was also something of a mis-sell to unionists at the time – we were urged to make compromises on the basis of this being a big final settlement, not another set of concessions nationalists would bag before moving onto the next round. Nothing is forever, but the GFA was supposed to provide a fair mechanism for everyone to feel safe and have their views respected for the foreseeable future.

    What I think some nationalists miss when they seek to sidestep the GFA, or suggest it’s time to move on from it, is that there is a unionist side to that deal too. What do unionists make of their partners (to what we regard as a binding agreement) now jostling for something better, cherry-picking bits they like and ignoring their commitments? This is highly damaging to our politics, increasing distrust and ill feeling. If we can’t stick to our commitments, on what basis can we deal with each other at all?

    I was being a little tongue-in-cheek when I said the border was a non-issue these days. I mean that it shouldn’t really be an issue in the way that it is. Brexit is being used as a pretext for reviving old negative attitudes to the existence of Northern Ireland which are supposed to have been put to bed. And as a unionist Remainer, I feel NI is being let down by the nationalist Remainers who using their genuine and understandable anxiety over Brexit to upset the GFA settlement. Remember, all 11 Law Lords unanimously found the GFA was left completely intact by the UK’s democratic decision to leave the European Union. Much of the manoeuvring of nationalist politicians towards downgrading the GFA smacks of a mixture of opportunism and sulking.

    I’m not underestimating how nationalist opinion has shifted since Brexit. But I think we do need question the poor leadership nationalist politicians have shown on the issue, which has been alarmist, divisive and irresponsible from the SDLP as well as SF. Eastwood, not just the usual suspects in SF, has at times seemed to stoke anti-British feeling. Given the recent history of northern nationalism towards the British community in NI, and the understanding we are all supposed to have now about the need to work together, it has been really galling and I think damaging to the whole community.

  • Madra Uisce

    I fear you are about to become a course on Micks A La Carte menu.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    That’s not explaining your assertion.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    where is?

  • Madra Uisce

    Themmuns, there ive fixed that for you.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The report talks about the best way to get consensus over flags, i.e. don’t let councils make decisions council by council, decide it at an NI leadership level.

  • hollandia

    It is. If you want go get into the playing the man game, be my guest. I’m out.

  • hollandia

    Sigh.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Ah OK, I hadn’t realised, I’ll change that. Do they do show up when you go back on the old threads?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    No seriously, where is this mythical realm of the “normal”? It’s a serious point about N Ireland and about our view of our own exceptionalism. Yes we’re different, but so is everywhere else.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It’s not person-playing at all, it’s “ad rem”

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You can say that to any critique of Irish nationalist politics that comes from a non-nationalist though. It’s not an answer.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    There are good arguments for adjusting the border – certainly going by county was way too rough and ready. The Boundary Commission recommendations of 1925 were an improvement for sure. But no one went for them, unfortunately.

  • whatif1984true

    Your reply is breathtaking in its lack of empathy for those who were innocent yet maimed and murdered. As a belfast man born and bred I regard those in both camps who tried to murder me in their various bombings and shoutings as thugs and murderers.
    I do not have a scale of evil where I put soldiers at a lower level than home grown murderers but I do believe that the innocent (non-armed who were not members of paramilitary organisations nor engaging in civil unrest eg riots etc. ) to be those we should care and compensate FIRST.
    SF is still run/lead by ex terrorists. If you truly believe their hands are free of blood then there is nothing I nor anyone else can say.
    Continual reference by SF to the evils of the state does NOT negate the evil of IRA/UVF/UDA it is a mere smoke screen we all are well used to.
    The neglect of the innocent is a damning indictment of the low morals of SF.

  • hollandia

    Ok, let me explain it to you. You’re assertion is that Unionism couldn’t bring the flag flying policy into line with the rest of teh UK – I’ll repeat the “normal” part of the UK, because SF/IRA etc etc etc. Therefore you are contending that two wrongs do in fact make a right. That should be fairly clear to all neutral observers.

  • Mark Petticrew

    I’m simply making note of the fact that there’s a considerable level of nationalist disillusion with Stormont. Indeed, such disillusionment is not a strictly nationalist phenomenon either; alongside 52% of Catholics, 40% of Protestants in a 2015 B&A poll favoured alternatives to devolution.

    This combined with the more recent poll finding from LT that a majority of northerners (55%) didn’t want to see a return to the institutions post-June fuels a desire within me to explore alternatives to devolution as we know it, such as localism.

  • hollandia

    You’re into a whole other thread about why NI is different from the rest of the UK, from banknotes through the whole gamut of differences (such as no conscription for WW2) right through to SSM and Abortion. For an integral part of the UK, it’s gone out of its way throughout it’s short history to be different from the rest of the UK – i.e. it is being abnormal when compared with the rest of the UK, which can be seen as “normal”.

    To be absolutely clear about it – if you have a group of four people/organsations/countries, and three (particularly the larger three) do one thing and the smaller one does another, then it’s fair to say the smaller one is not being normal.

    I’m done here now, as I’m not getting into a circular argument.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    You’re right in theory, Ted, but May’s attitude has hardened the EU’s, which has in turn hardened May’s, and so on and on. Not a good sign.

  • The Living End

    Unrequited compromise? I think the main point is Nationalism made (offered) a compromise, Unionism (Alliance aside) refused to accept it.

  • Redstar

    Why Ted, which bits not accurate?

  • Redstar

    None of that negates the justifiable belief of many that if / when unionists end up losing FM will they be ok working ” under” a Nat leader?

    Indeed it goes further.

    I personally don’t believe in the 50 + 1 ends partition BUT even with the Statelet continuing-how will unionists cope if it’s run on a very different basis?

  • johnny lately

    “Your reply is breathtaking in its lack of empathy for those who were innocent yet maimed and murdered.”

    Exactly who do you think im talking about when I say “All victims of terrorism are the same” Are you suggesting those murdered and maimed as a result of British army/RUC collusion are not entitled to be viewed as equal as any other victim of terrorism.

  • mickfealty

    It was it was. And one of things it wasn’t was a compromise.

  • Jollyraj

    The fact that you are so hot and bothered about the concept of unionists being reasonable and co-operative shows thay it is something that scares you.

    The Republican project feeds off sectarian division, suspicion and hatred. The best way forward for unionism generally is co-operation and tolerance – extremist Republicanism is a weed that dies if exposed to the sunshine.

  • Jollyraj

    Need a more tangible answer, though – in real terms what form does the respect and equality you refer to actually take?

  • Jollyraj

    To be honest, it has always looked to me as though SF simply saw the death of McGuinness as a handy excuse to once again try to play the “This is a Large Crisis” card. SF seem to feel they profit most from a crisis – and therefore their key strategy is to try to ensure there always is one. Presumably that is the reason for the reluctance of Ireland to actually push for a border poll – why on earth would they want to be stamping out SF-engineered fires in perpetuity?

  • Jollyraj

    “BUT even with the Statelet continuing-how will unionists cope if it’s run on a very different basis?”

    What is your vision of that?

  • james

    “would they participate at all”

    Is this another embryonic SF redrafting of fact I see before me? Is this step one of the gradual editing process which finishes with a gnashing of teeth and a ‘Why, oh why, did the DUP collapse the institutions???’

    Let’s try sticking to the facts, shall we?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    and what about Scotland? It has its own entirely different legal system on top of the all the other differences. So it goes back to what is normal, in a country based on a patchwork of different places with different histories and traditions and cultures?

  • hollandia

    What bit of “I’m done here now, as I’m not getting into a circular argument” precisely are you struggling with?

  • mickfealty

    Sure so did the Shinners. As Stephen Warke pointed out here to the outrage of a lot of folk who should know better, it took ten years for them to recognise a reformed policing service.

    I’m just waiting for someone to define a test that can satisfy them that the DUP are on the level (as far as they are concerned). Otherwise, we’re going to waiting a long long time.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes, I’m not suggesting people are happy with Stormont at the moment – they elect the two hardline parties then get annoyed when it turns out they don’t work together very constructively. Sometimes you have to throw a question back at the electorate – you get who you vote for, what did you expect? That said, the arms race of stridency has a dynamic of its own that voters can’t be blamed for necessarily – it is understandable to some extent to vote for the hardline on your side to counter the other side who seem to be insisting on their hardliners.

    Btw I’ve been looking today for the most recent 2017 LT poll and couldn’t find it, though found a few references to it – have you a link you can share?

    People can easily say in a poll (and I work in the research industry myself) they’d prefer something better, the real test is when you try to make that concrete and test out alternatives against each other. I doubt if any alternative structure really has any more legs than what we have now. The rather boring reality perhaps is that the structures we need are there, we just need to impress on our politicians that we require them to be more reasonable and constructive people in working them. The last election was profoundly depressing in that regard – a hardline party collapsing power-sharing and insisting on all its demands being met before it will do its duty again in government, and being rewarded at the polls for it. And another hardline party incapable of handling them similarly boosted, for fear of otherwise having to stomach a SF First Minister.

    The canton idea is interesting but I’m not convinced – I think it dodges the point that lives are not lived in single localities in real life. Home is one place, work another, kids’ schools another etc. NI needs to face the big issues of inter-ethnic compromise as a region and at an ethnic group level, I think. It gives up on the idea of shared place where we learn to respect and tolerate each other. But it is interesting and in a way reflects how NI already operates. So I’m not entirely dismissing it.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Well, for starters I didn’t assert that “Unionism couldn’t bring the flag flying policy into line with the rest of the UK”. I actually support it coming into line with the rest of the UK. But more to the point I can’t in any case follow your logic in the “Therefore …” sentence. I genuinely don’t understand the reasoning. Can you spell out maybe what you’re seeing the “two wrongs” as, and what the “right” is, then I might get it?

  • Mark Petticrew

    LT just said on Twitter that they should have a polling report for the April poll uploaded on their website within the next 24 hours.

  • John Collins

    And the recent Brexit Referendum showed that ‘the north east of the island’ (now actually an established entity, which it was not in 1918), and the entire long established nation of Scotland ‘wanted something different from the rest’ and not even the slightest allowance can be made for them.

  • hollandia

    “The union flag under attack from the sectarian Brit-haters of SF is never going to go down well, whoever else joins them.”

    This is what you said, is it not?

  • John Collins

    At the recent Brexit Referendum ‘the north east of the island’, which is now an established entity, something it was not in 1918, and the entire, and long established nation of Scotland ‘wanted something different’ from the rest’ and their views did not even get a scintilla of recognition.
    Furthermore in 1918 the counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh were forced into NI against their wishes. No county was forced into the then Free State against their wishes.

  • Fear Éireannach

    Why don’t the unionists stop promoting sectarian division and the sectarian entity, NI, that exists to promote it. That would really confuse the Shinners.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Once again, with emphasis, the question on the ballot paper was about what we wanted for the whole UK and it was understood there would be one result for the whole UK and we should abide by it. I was a Remainer too but we lost. We need to respect the result. We can’t overturn that by complaining about how traduced we feel. We change it by trying to get a referendum on the final deal.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    On the latter point, doing it by county was I agree too rough and ready. Parts of Tyrone and Fermanagh should have gone to the Free State (and parts of Donegal to us).

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes, and …?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Thanks!

  • The Living End

    And yet you don’t respect the Ireland-wide election of 1918, (it was understood there would be one result for the whole of the country and we should abide by it) in which SF won a resounding victory.

    British democracy must be respected, Irish democracy can be ignored

  • MainlandUlsterman

    No, I absolutely respect that election result, which showed why Ireland needed to be divided up.

  • Skibo

    So you are saying it is not a compromise because Unionism did not agree.
    I can accept the fact that in the end Unionism was not involved in the compromise but in the act of compromise as per your description 1 for the verb, “meet each other halfway, find the middle ground………. make concessions.”
    As far as I can see Nationalism did the only moving. Unionism was not interested in compromise. That has been the issue with all negotiations so far, Unionism believe they do not have to compromise. When compromises are made by the British Government on their behalf, as they do not accept ownership of them, they refuse to enact them.
    If Unionism is now going to accept the act of compromise, they are coming very late to the table, but better late than never, never,,,,,,,,never!

  • whatif1984true

    SF are blocking the care and compensation for innocent victims until their colleagues in arms are treated the same as the innocent victims.

    SF regard the terrorists as victims of terrorism. You bring up the point that RUC and Army members were evil and unprosecuted. I agree however I do not regard that as a valid reason for the block currently in place stopping the innocent from being cared for.

    If you are in fact in agreement with this then my apologies.

  • Katyusha

    All of Tyrone and Fermanagh should have gone to the Free State.
    If you want to partition the counties (something nobody watned to do), then South Armagh, Derry City west of the Foyle at least, south Derry (or north Tyrone as it was in its earlier life and Newry should have gone as well. Trying to hold on to areas like South Armagh, whether the IRA were able to operate on the same flaying column structure they’s used since the 1920s, was a crippling flaw in the stability of the northern state.

    Neither the nationalist or unionist negotiators were prepared to countenance the division of Tyrone, which was suggeted by Asquith, who provides one of my favourite descriptions of my home county.

    ‘We sat again this morning for an hour & a half, discussing maps & figures, and always getting back to that most damnable creation of the perverted ingenuity of man—the County of Tyrone. The extraordinary feature of the discussion was the complete agreement (in principle) of Redmond & Carson. Each said “I must have the whole of Tyrone, or die; but I quite understand why you say the same”.

    The inclusion of Fermanagh was justified by Churchill on the basis of sentimental unionist attachment to the town of Ennisikillen and its military history and symbolism – the same reason why St. George’s Cross still flies from Enniskillen castle – which apparently trumps the democratic will of the people. No, regarding both counties, the unionists made a completely unjustified territorial claim, which was recognised by figures in the British government as completely unjustified, and only countenanced on the basis of expediency as the country was in the throes of revolution at the time, and on the basis that such division would be temporary.

    Well, if they hadn’t tried to bite off more than they could chew, the northern state may have actually been stable, rather that the utter disaster it turned out to be for the next century. But that’s very hypothetical. partition has rarely, if ever, been a successful policy, no matter where it has been employed.

  • mickfealty

    The definition of compromise is pretty unambiguous. It requires the consent of two parties.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Except in N Ireland. Partition is the foundation of the agreed Ireland we now enjoy.

  • Katyusha

    What?
    Do you honestly believe that? Is there any period in the last one hundred years of the history of Northern Ireland that you can point to and call it a success with a straight face?

    The one saving grace for the Republic in this regard is that desipite leading to a bitter civil war, decades of poverty and domination by the catholic Church, it wasn’t quite a massive a disaster as the union with Great Britain which saw the island lose half of its population to famine, emigration and war. And t hey were able to turn it around into a success story. The north… not so much.

    Secondly, do you honestly believe that the interlude of peace that we now enjoy will not be interrupted at some point, or that the GFA will last forever?

    (This “agreed Ireland” is one you only enjoy on a map. Well, I’m the same, but at least I don’t pretend there is a future for me there while the north is in the economic, social and political state it is.)

  • MainlandUlsterman

    What about the Good Friday Agreement? Isn’t that our agreed Ireland?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    10 years of “playing nice”? Jesus, just incredible.

  • Skibo

    I agree Mick, and the simplest explanation of compromise is where groups who have taken up opposing positions negotiate and move from their positions to find a common ground where they can agree. Nationalism moved their position, Unionism did not.
    What does that tell you?
    It is simple, nationalism is prepared to compromise and it will not weaken their position. Unionism on the other hand, believe they cannot afford to compromise as it will be taken as a sign of weakness, a weakness they believe will bring the curtain down on it all.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    SF preparing for political unionism to be smart is like me preparing for a zombie apocalypse; theoretically possible but not likely.

    The smartest thing ‘unionism’ could do is have a behind the scenes agreement (DUP and UUP) and start a top down long term plan of ‘thawing’ (or ‘OPERATION: LUNDY’).

    An agreement whereby the main two parties agree not to ‘out-fleg’ each other in cheap political stunts and try to introduce a culture of unionism as a political ideology but not a religio-cultural ideology.

    We have been given so many second chances and they’ve all been squandered.

    We thought there’d be a new Drumcree scenario popping up every week. There hasn’t.

    We thought that all people born as a Catholic would automatically vote pro-nationalism. They haven’t.

    I remember in the late 90’s the prevailing thought was that as soon as Catholics are in the majority then that’s it, game over. Now unionists love gloating over polls that say otherwise.

    The answers and strategy are so simple that should a united Ireland ever come to pass then political historians 100 years later will be baffled as to how it came about once they observe the aforementioned scenarios.

    If unionists can’t capitalise on their natural advantages then they deserve to lose, it’s like clutching defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • johnny lately

    Those IRA members who were executed by the IRA for being paid British state agents – Are they victims ?

  • Skibo

    AG have you considered the fact that Nationalism has decided that it was not the time previously to come out in strength and vote?
    The last election shows what can happen when we are angry enough and interestingly, the vast majority of extra nationalists that came out to vote did so for Sinn Fein.
    North Belfast and Fermanagh South Tyrone will be very interesting this time round to see if that new fervour for voting will continue to increase, I believe it will.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Absolutely Skibo, I should have added that to the above list.

  • mickfealty

    How does that even stand in this circumstance? I can’t get off base one, where the EC said it wasn’t a problem in the first place.

  • Skibo

    Did you read the conclusion?
    Conclusions
    5.18 The Draft EQIA Report concluded that, in relation to the City Hall, there was a range of policy options open to the Council which would not be unlawful and would promote good relations better than the current policy. Although it is clearly impossible to define an option which would not cause offence to some people, the report concluded that it would appear that the policy options which best promote good relations were – in descending order of effectiveness:

     Designated flag days only;
     Designated flag days plus specified additional days;
     No flag or a neutral flag;
     Two flags.
    A further interesting statement from the report:
    “If the Union flag were to be flown on a permanent basis, Mr Hanna considered that:
    “there is a risk of it being inferred that the underlying reason for such a policy was either ‘to assert the ascendancy of one community over another’ (Brennan), or to acknowledge Northern Ireland’s constitutional position in a way which was neither balanced nor moderate, but was intended to give offence to those who opposed it.
    To say there was no problem before is not to acknowledge that we are in a shared community where equality and parity of esteem should be the bedrock of the solution.