Why is Colum Eastwood pulling his punches on a border poll?

There is no point in denying the appeal of a united Ireland within the EU, even if the threat of a hard border turns out to be exaggerated for its malign effects on trade, integrated agriculture and ease of movement and Theresa May’s team returns from Brussels in triumph. It transcends narrow nationalism and reflects the Remain verdict in the EU referendum which put nationalism on the winning side, courtesy of quite a few on the unionist side.

For the SDLP, Colum Eastwood  stretches a point  to claim that a “border poll is no longer solely the project of Irish nationalism but of pro-European internationalism,”  adding  that  “ unionists were part of his vision for the future of a “reconciled Ireland..  The kind of united Ireland he wanted “was not where we have some sort of scorched earth policy”.

“We’ve a vision for a united Ireland – it’s not about beating anybody, it’s not about one more push and we’ll get there… we’re thinking about building relationships and reconciling.”

I’m sure he’s perfectly sincere about that.

But keen readers owe thanks to John Manley of the Irish News for pointing out that  “there is no pledge to hold a border poll in the SDLP manifesto. Nevertheless, during questioning from journalists, Mr Eastwood said his party supported a referendum – but not until after the Brexit negotiations have concluded.

It is extremely odd for a party leader to toss out in an aside such an important matter as support for a border poll. Although it was hardly a new thought it was bound to steal such headlines as he got. His handling of the topic suggests that Eastwood is caught  in an immediate dilemma between preventing Sinn Fein from outflanking him on the nationalist side and antagonising unionist voters he might need to hold seats like south Down and even Foyle. It’s not as  if he didn’t have a viable  alternative. He could have  postponed serious consideration on a border poll until the drift  of the Brexit negotiations becomes clear.

Unionists will react cynically to the pro-EU, internationalist spin Eastwood is putting on the referendum call, as he pretends that the appeal of a unity in the EU is stronger than the pull of fashioned nationalism. That said, supporting a post- Brexit referendum is  entirely  rational. There’s a great debate to be held that unionists shouldn’t fear and can’t eventually avoid.
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The  immediate test  for the SDLP is whether they’re now in a position to encourage greater unionist- nationalist and north-south cooperation to mitigate Brexit or administer its alleged benefits. They might consider that unionist cooperation, although I agree it’s a matter of self interest, would be better facilitated without being identified with eventual unity. Which if it comes to it, will the SDLP choose? How does he relate all this debate to  the resumption of the Assembly?

Interestingly while Eastwood had a lot to say about the EU there’s barely a word here about the economic advantages and social structures of the UK which objectively have to be taken into account and are indispensable to today’s Northern Ireland. Indispensable and foreseeably irreplaceable.

The SDLP make much of taking their Westminster seats by contrast with SF, a case I don’t recall ever having been stressed so much before. Their participation in Westminster might have led them to take  greater account of the awkward economic arguments that need to be addressed if unity is to be debated with integrity.

Otherwise UI  is still largely conceived of  in an old fashioned, purely numbers game on a nationalist identity theme which refuses to recognise that constitutional referendums are inherently divisive. If it continues to be debated on those terms, we could face disaster. It will only stiffen unionist resistance just like the resistance of nationalists to partition. .

If the Brexit referendum was a bad thing, why are UI referendums a good thing?

There must be a better way. We have it and it’s expressed in the GFA.

Arlene Foster’s comment that she will not see a border poll in her lifetime (“I’m confident about that”) smacks of her first kneejerk  dismissal of an Irish Language Act. Almost certainly she is wrong and almost certainly she knows it. Breathing defiance against a future reality is a sign of weakness not strength. The point to make is the flip side of the point that can be made to Colum Eastwood or Gerry Adams and Michelle O’Neill for that matter.

Will unionists refuse to engage with nationalists to mitigate the effects of Brexit because it might seem like stringing along with a united Ireland agenda?  That would be just as foolish as nationalists  refusing to acknowledge the lack of a substitute for Northern Ireland’s dependency on the British economy and the likelihood of unionist resistance.

If nationalists are so concerned about the threat to the peace process of a physical border, why do they so casually dismiss (in public at least) the far greater threat from removing the border altogether?

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  • Kevin Breslin

    Look the fact of the matter is I welcome Alliance’s contribution to the border issue, I really do. Whenever I hear Long or Farry tell the DUP or even the UUP they are living in a fantasy world I’m proud they represent people here.

    However, you are trying to affix a tribal lens to the border poll.

    We don’t know what border we will have, if there’s a bad border and people want a border poll because it’s a bad border, there’s nothing tribal about that what so ever.

    People who want Irish Unity will vote Yes, People who don’t will vote No, People who don’t care that much will stay at home.

    Perhaps a border poll will just reflect the attitude of the people to the issues that Brexit is imposing upon us against our will.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Why do people high on Brexit need drugs?
    They have enough escapism lying to themselves.

  • Granni Trixie

    Omg. What a misunderstanding ..I just niwnget it: you thought I was referring to height which I absolutely wasn’t as I would not be so unkind,

    I intended the mini reference as an image to represent not wanting Sf to steal a March rather than policy as a well considered position.

  • Kevin Breslin

    We will just take that chance … You seem to be scared of your own shadow … I don’t see a bunch of calculated risk takers, I see gamblers who are running down on their luck.

    Unionist politicians from the Democratic Unionist Party do not want a trade deal.

    There’s no passion in any DUP politician’s voice to talk about the importance of trade. Just empty stoicism, and passion reserved for trade done nearly a century ago under a militant empire.

    If they did they would invest a single penny from that Constitutional Research Council to get researchers do some logistics on how to do a trade deal with the South instead of being passengers.

    The DUP are nothing more than passengers on “Conservative Airlines” or rather “Con-Air”, for years and years they fancied themselves as rebels, now they are nothing more than institutionalised castrated lap dogs with no bite left in them.

    They are the only major party in Ireland North/South … Unionist/Nationalist/Other without any Brexit plan. They have to be told what the plan is from their donors and special interests in England, and even they don’t really have one.

    So I’m delighted you’ve jumped on the bandwagon of denial and resentment, every unintended consequence of Brexit will just be a sign of how reactionary unionism is, and how disastrous the Union with Westminster is to the people across Ireland, including the Union’s supporters.

    The Leave side took a risk, and they won’t accept that they are already losing, and have been losing constantly from the referendum.

    The failures are just beginning.

  • NewSouthernMan

    “…the lack of a substitute for Northern Ireland’s dependency on the British economy…”

    “British economy” sounds like a face saving way of saying “British exchequer”.

    But there is a substitute – NI can learn from the South how to create a thriving, modern economy.

    I think the EU, the Republic and the British gov’t will generously support the North during the transition period from a dependent economy to a developed, knowledge-based economy (10 years?).

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    How would they ‘know’ that? If you’ve been following the polls recently the tories have gone in a few weeks from a 24 point lead to possibly 5 – and there is still a week or so to go. Minds can also change on the border poll issue.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Not quite dead yet – needs a few more kicks – but I hope to be at the funeral.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Like many others Kippers you confuse the amount of democracy available in the EU with the amount available in the UK. There is no comparison. Countries within the EU have a voice which is heard, vote and a veto. In the UK, Scotland and NI (and Wales have neither a veto or an effective voice or vote. Have done with this nonsensical comparison.

  • 1729torus

    Is there a high resolution version of that PDF?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Irish nationalist in wanting border poll stunner … Even the Irish nationalists in the Alliance Party want it too. After Brexit is a very long time.

    As far as I am concerned let’s try to work out how to manage the North South conflict of interests around the border. There are going to be border problems that Unionists cannot run away from.

    If they want there to be a border with the Republic of Ireland they need to get involved in the dialogue here on how to manage it.

    Otherwise it’s better to take it to the public to genuinely ask them what’s the point of this border, what is it keeping in and what is it keeping out and why?

    You know as well as I do that the problem party here is the DUP, when faced with the reality of what Brexit does to the border they run away. They are cowards of the highest order.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Not suitable for mobile phones. I would guess.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    If you haven’t read yet of the effects of WTO rules and a hard Brexit I advise you to catch up. Do a google search – go on – try it. And it won’t be ‘the choice of the EU’ – it will be the choice of the Westminster government. It is us who are leaving, not the EU, who mainly want us to stay.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Man/ball. Are the alternative rules still in force for unionists?

  • Granni Trixie

    But you are skipping over the immediate pressing necessity of getting MLAs round a table to come up with a way forward – which has to include governance reforms, Legacy not to mention getting a FM/DFM appoInted. A tall order. Especially when SF having the will to do so is in doubt. As regards th DUP, I think they (esp their Lesder)!have been softened up by Exposiure to being in the wrong to make them want to do a deal,
    From this perspective, a Border poll is destabilising and counterproductive in the long run,

  • the keep

    Your going to need a very long life then.

  • runnymede

    ‘Will unionists refuse to engage with nationalists to mitigate the effects of Brexit because it might seem like stringing along with a united Ireland agenda? ‘

    Goodness, why ever would they think that?

    Surely it can’t be because nationalists have been foaming at the mouth that Brexit=a way to bounce unionists into a UI for the last year?

  • Vince

    You forgot some of the other recent Alliance pearls Kevin – suggesting an electoral understanding to maximize the fight against Brexit was termed “sectarian”. Then Nationalists being unable to represent the day-day needs of non-nationalists.They really seem to have lost the plot.

  • Karl

    So from a unionist perspective the thing to do to bring the people of NI together and guarantee its place in the union was to advocate Brexit to their voters??

  • Vince

    Oh I don’t know – for Alliance Anna Lo and Paula Bradshaw seem to be doing a pretty good job of the mixed messaging and opposite-facing. Gone are those solid middle-ground days of John Cushnahan, Oliver Napier et al…..I’m feeling quite nostalgic.

  • The Irishman

    Nice post KB.

  • The Irishman

    I see your back to using your great debating skills…

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Don’t agree. 10 years at the very most.

  • The Irishman

    Ffs Chris, didn’t take long to revert to type and start posting like a schoolchild. Yet again your ruining my slugger experience.

  • Kevin Breslin

    You think the only ally to the Republic of Ireland, Netherlands, Luxembourg was the United Kingdom?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Tax harmonisation is a debate that needs to be won across 27 countries. The EU is not a one size fits all club that seeks to impose its will on its partner nations.

    It’s not England.

  • Granni Trixie

    Interesting you should say that as I stsrted in Alliance from times of the old brigade of people you mention (though it was Bob Cooper in 1972 who sent my pulse racing) and I am here still. From that perspective, I think today’s leaders are more confident about articulating the diversity within APNI. In JC and ON time the big idea was to embody opposition to violence and model cross community consensus. There is an appreciation nowadays that a much more nuanced approach is required if the country is ever to be reconciled.

    In the new context of post GFA the reality is that Alliance is supported by people across the spectrum. This is not being two faced but the reality.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Net contributors have bigger shares of responsibility and influence, it’s a real achievement to work hard to get to the top table of Europe at Britain’s loss.

    I got to hand it to you Brexiteers … You claim your net contribution is some sort of political leverage now, but a customer who pays the shopkeeper nothing has no capacity to haggle.

  • 1729torus

    Nationalists can already use cross-border integration as provided by the GFA to implement de facto joint governance over the next 10-15 years. Why settle for JA? What does it give that can’t eventually be gotten already?

    From a nationalist POV, the GFA was partially supposed to be what you had in mind.

  • ted hagan

    So as a Brexit expert have you any idea of the sum? Thought not. By the way the figure being touted is 100bn EURO, not sterling.
    Anyway May certainly didn’t dismiss the above figure when it was put to her by Paxman. But then who knows where you stand with May?

  • Charlie

    Great comment

  • grumpy oul man

    I think his wait is over, the Empire no longer exists,

    The British Empire after 1924

    After the First World War it became increasingly difficult for Britain to hold on to her Empire. It became clear that:

    Britain could no longer afford an Empire

    Britain had no right to rule peoples who did not want to be ruled by Britain

    Britain realised that the Royal Navy was not strong enough to protect all the Empire anywhere in the world

    The Treaty of Versailles (1919) promoted ‘self-determination’, or the right to rule yourself. It was difficult for Britain to support this principle for other countries, but deny it to countries in the Empire:

    Ireland rebelled between 1919 and 1921. In 1920‒1921 it was divided into Northern Ireland, which was part of the UK, and the Irish Free State, a dominion like Canada. In 1937 it became more independent as Éire. In 1949 Éire became the completely independent Republic of Ireland and left the Commonwealth.

    There was a strong independence movement in India:

    the British government massacred a peaceful gathering at Amritsar in 1919

    Mohandas Gandhi led a non-cooperation movement which refused to obey British laws, eg the Salt March, 1930

    in 1935 the Government of India Act gave Indians control of everything except foreign policy

    The British Empire was dismantled and replaced by a voluntary organisation of former colonies called the Commonwealth:

    In 1926, the British government agreed the Balfour Declaration – that Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were completely independent countries, “freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations”.

    In 1947, India and Pakistan were given independence.

    In 1960, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan admitted there was a “wind of change” in Africa. Most of Britain’s African and Caribbean colonies achieved independence in the 1960s.

    In 1997, Britain formally handed Hong Kong back to China.

    Empire v. EEC
    Until the 1960s, Britain was part of a Commonwealth trading community based on the Empire.

    In 1973, Britain joined the European Economic Community, and became part of a trading community based on free trade between the countries of Europe.
    A wee bit of history for you.

  • grumpy oul man

    well they are Irish Nationalists! and unionists make it very easy to “choke” at being part of the UK.

  • Nevin

    I’m not a unionist blogger and the DUP/SF combo isn’t, er, DUP!

  • Brendan Heading

    Not just SDLPers

  • Alan N/Ards

    Hi Kevin

    You’re absolutely right in saying that there was no plan for what would happen after Brexit. But where is the plan for a UI, if a poll was granted to nationalism/republicanism? There is plenty of waffle (I’m not getting at you, btw) from Irish nats, but nothing else.

  • Brendan Heading

    Then Nationalists being unable to represent the day-day needs of non-nationalists.

    To answer this point I’ll ask a question. Why is it necessary for the SDLP to designate “nationalist” in the assembly ? If this isn’t sending out a signal about which tribe the SDLP see it as their priority to represent, then what is it there for ?

  • Brendan Heading

    However, you are trying to affix a tribal lens to the border poll.

    dude.

    The issue of the border, and before that, of home rule has been tribal for a very long time.

  • murdockp

    Not so. Ireland in important for a wide number of reasons. They have never been to war with another eu nation state so are important middle men in Brussels. ROI Like Israel has a huge US diaspora and commands huge respect in the US. This is also the case across the globe too. The Irish are well travelled.

    Gong forward they are the like to the uk and the Eu. The backward of you in NI would be shocked at the number of meetings between U.K. And ROI civil servants / diplomats etc. The links to the Vatican are strong too.

    the unionists might not like it, but little old ROI is a player on the world stage. Maybe not for going to war, but certainly for politics and business and being the middleman.

  • Vince

    It indicates the view on the border Brendan, that’s all. It does not mean that nationalists are the only constituents one represents if their houses are flooded, their playgrounds need fixed or they languish on hospital waiting lists. Ditto for Unionists. I wouldn’t expect people like Kinahan or Aiken to turn away a nationalist in similar circumstances. Even the late Ian Paisley, I understand, worked hard for constituents from a nationalist background on that basis.

  • BERZERKERMG

    “What does it give that can’t eventually be gotten already?”

    Thinking outside the zero sum game for a second, it would ensure nobody “wins” per se and avoid a lot of triumphalism and tension and a desperate scramble for 50+1. The main benefit would be it would help foster a NI identity while allowing expression of both national identities.

  • Kevin Breslin

    You are absolutely right, at the end of the day the UK is going be defined by its external relations as much as its internal ones.

    The only thing Irish nationalist can point to right now is that the status quo is gone, some kind of customs border is coming in and that is going to be discomforting given how much better it was having easy trade across the whole of Europe.

    It’s not good enough for unionists to say we want this but we don’t want that, people agree rules and laws and what occurs along that path of least resistance happens. They need to work to change what they want to change and work to keep the compromises that made things work before.

    Just like it would be not good enough for Irish nationalists to desire a 32 county socialist republic without practicing the generosity, tolerance, respect and connection as well as the deference to the public that socialists claim as their principles.

    You can have a go at me for waffling, I’m fine with that!

    I’d love to make some Belguim style waffles one day if I’m allowed to go off topic.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It’s been socioeconomic and political Brendan.

    Partitioning Ireland into a major Protestant part and a major Catholic part has not helped things, but both nationalists and unionists thought of their material self interest.

    Brexit does have an impact on political and material self interest … If Politics based on those matters is tribal, then all politics is tribal.

    Irish unity would not simply be about uniting Ireland, it would be about British people remaining in the European Union and still having the same cultural and identity differences.

    Bless their wonderful differences and perspective, unity in diversity and all that. Brits do not get treated like the second class citizens in Ireland, on the basis of nationality. You cannot say the same for various other nationalities who have made their home in Britain.

  • Brendan Heading

    It indicates the view on the border Brendan, that’s all.

    You didn’t answer my question. Why is it necessary ?

    If Unionists and Nationalists serve their constituents equally well, why do they exist as separate groupings, and why do their voters rarely transfer across the divide ?

  • Angry Mob

    It happened with Norway gaining a quasi-EU status that its xenophobes hate and it will happen to the UK too. Otherwise the UK will fracture and collapse.

    Do you mean to say approx 80% of the Norwegian population xenophobes as they don’t wish to join the EU?

    Interestingly there is no country inside the EU who has can claim 80%+ support for remaining.

    More out-looking Britons may soon realise like the Norwegians that being outside is the internationalist mindset, not fortress Europe that is the EU.

  • Kevin Breslin

    No I don’t mean them, I mean the fringe group of extreme anti-EU wackos who are afraid of everyone south of Scandinavia … including Lars Brevik

    The type of xenophobes that are behind the tunnel vision that is so apparent in the Brexit thinking these days. People who are genuine bigots like Aaron Banks, the loudest minority of Leavers.

    Norway has a healthy Give Take Relationship with the EU.

    The Barmy Brexiteers seem to want a Take, Take, Take relationship with the EU. The EU is there to take the increasing amount of printed paper from the Bank of England to get rid of goods in tribute and admiration of the British nation’s money printing capabilities.

    You say there are out-looking Brexiteers … I don’t see them offering any out-looking politics as yet.

    I don’t see them even offering inward looking reflection on how to improve the country.

    What Angry Mob do you have to offer in terms of Northern Ireland being more outward in Brexit that simply was not possible in the European Union?

    Do you honestly think Brexit will make Northern Ireland more outward looking than say the Republic of Ireland or France or Germany or Italy or even Greece?

    Do you really think the Northern Ireland Assembly will expand its networking capacity any further, that Northern Ireland universities?

    Do you think all this obsession over immigration is going to make Northern Ireland a more pleasant place to go to?

    Or more likely we’ll be stuck with the DUP giving us the same old “Orange Version” of the comely maidens dancing at the crossroads?

    What’s so outward thinking about saying Commonwealth nations overlook Europe because their real friends are in Britain?

    Indians have no French friends?
    Germans cannot get on with Nigerians?
    Finns could not possibly trade with Canada?
    Dutch people aren’t friendly with bankers in Belize?

    Nostalgia is meaningless … Alexander the Great’s legacy is hardly solving political problems in Modern Macedonia.

  • eamoncorbett

    If you have to pay to access the single market and accept a quota of EU immigrants , how does that tie in with this independence notion and why is the EU responsible for all the bad stuff ? The EU is not an empire , it is an economic union , yes there are rules for the countries in the Eurozone which regulates borrowing but these are beneficial because they are a buffer against the stuff that went on in 2008 .
    There are problems in Greece and to a less extent in Italy and maybe the Euro doesn’t suit them but I think the improving economic situation will benefit both states .

  • Kevin Breslin

    Again, I love the Alliance Party’s views on the EU.

    If Unionists don’t listen to you lot and moderate their opinions they are going to damage the 3 stranded relationship not just with Irish nationalists and the Republic, but with the island of Britain too.

    How can people really believe you can have different customs arrangements and no customs checks with the border remaining how it is, even on the UK end?

  • Donal

    UI = Re-uniting the good Presbyterian people of Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal with their fellow Ulster people. To right a wrong inflicted by Carson and Craig.
    Can’nt wait for the UI vote and it will be positive!

  • eamoncorbett

    Agree, been saying that for years. SF have more or less decided they’ve had enough of government. The DUP seem desperate to reinstate Stormont because above all they need stability.

  • eamoncorbett

    The real advantage of JA would be the chance to take the constitution out of local politics and allow MLAs and MPs to debate issues which are locally revelant without constantly harping on about the border.

  • George

    Why foster a NI identity?

    Oh I see to avoid the triumphalism and tension – which is polite middle-class unionist speak for unionist violence and intimidation.

    The 100-year long attempt at fostering a NI identity has the northern part of the island in the dysfunctional state it’s currently in.

    Joint authority as a solution rather than a stop gap is merely an admission that unionists aren’t safe living in a self-determining Ireland. Sorry but that is nothing to aspire to. It is merely continuing the century of dysfunctional politics.

  • 1729torus

    That can be achieved by nationalist politicians agreeing to no border poll until after say 2030, in exchange for whatever concessions.

  • 1729torus

    Unionism will be noticeably weakened as a political force even by 2025-2030, and this whole situation is the result of a 6 county NI.

    I see no reason to open negotiations or make concessions, no matter how unpleasant the idea of losing one’s place in the UK by being outbred undoubtedly is for many who want to retain NI’s link with GB.

  • Madra Uisce

    Yes you are,you fool no one except yourself

  • Dónall

    It surprises me how little attention people pay to words and their meanings. How can you be internationalist without first conceding to the idea of a nation. International meaning ‘between nations’. That said maybe this perfectly describes the SDLP and Alliance position on the constitution (or the lack of a constitution as it may be).

  • BERZERKERMG

    That just kicks the can down the road, creating problems for future generations which is a hallmark of this dispute. At some stage the Catholic birthrate is going to stabilize so you are going to have roughly 50-50 for many decades to come. Catholics are never going to outnumber Protestants 2:1. Nationalists becoming a narrow majority does not substantially change the fundamental underlying problems.

  • BERZERKERMG

    The problem with fostering a NI identity has been that it has always been subservient to UK. In the nationalist aspiration it will be subservient to UI.

    The UK and ROI are not the solution, they are the problem. Neutralise them by making them equal and the emotionalism and point-scoring of the constitutional question becomes obsolete. So much of the problem is simply ego – whose flag flies the highest.

    “Joint authority as a solution rather than a stop gap is merely an admission that unionists aren’t safe living in a self-determining Ireland.”

    No, I disagree. Nationalists are currently safe in NI but that has not stopped the preference for a UI. Their British identity isn’t just fear of Taigs but a desire to maintain a political, cultural and historic link with Britain, any more than your Irish identity is fear of Brits.

  • tmitch57

    “The final answer to the Irish question in reunification.”

    It all depends upon who is asking the question.

  • mickfealty

    Bonie, unless you can produce an argument to back that up, that’s just a wind up line.

  • mickfealty

    This was always going to be a rocky period. And as we are seeing in England electorates are highly volatile and unpredictable. I accept almost entirely Ciara’s honest and remarkably clear description of feelings inside the SDLP at the moment, re Brexit, but I’m not sure what the consequences are of that. Their leadership is not really articulating anything concrete or challenging in that regard.

    SF on the other hand appears to have colluded in Brexit, with rumours to the effect that some of their ministers may even have voted for it. There again, I’m confused as to their line of thinking in colluding with the Brexiteers (if only passively by not campaigning), whilst protesting too loudly to opposite effect.

  • Vince

    Brendan – the reply below was sent to you yesterday but for some reason (perhaps a good one??) was “detected as spam”.
    Well, I’m not an expert on this Brendan but I presume it is an outflow from the GFA. And from distant memory I seem to recall that Alliance had no problem designating “Unionist” at one time. There is actually nothing wrong with the designation – the test and requirement for all is to act even handedly for constituents and not to let these designations affect/bias all of our actions. I don’t doubt that some do this better than others.

  • Vince

    Granni, my reply below was sent to you yesterday but apparently “detected as spam” and not sent/received.
    Granni, I find the messaging just quite confusing. Half the time (at least) these days I find that Alliance are either insulting or disparaging some of my values – doubtless you would call it “challenging” them. I am not an SDLP activist/employee/rep but I am sympathetic and my routine voting pattern is SDLP 1 Alliance 2. I am not partisan in my politics – if I lived in E Belfast I would vote for Long in this election, in S Antrim I would vote for Kinahan. In recent times however I have found my normal voting pattern harder to follow and quite frankl, some of the messages from Alliance in this campaign are stretching it to breaking point.

  • Granni Trixie

    Must say the diversity in Alliance suits me. But then that’s me.

  • Paul Hagan

    I think the souring of his reputation had more to do with the Peterloo massacre than his approach to diplomacy, see PS Shelley’s “the mask of anarchy” on that one

  • Kevin Breslin

    Peterloo Massacre was a government policy, I’m not sure how much say he had in it. Canning and Wellington were higher up.

  • runnymede

    Brexit will strengthen the union, so it’s a good thing from a unionist perspective, yes.

  • Vince

    Completely respect that choice and appreciate the diversity – would just like more civility and sensitivity in some cases. Equally applies to language of others – blondes/b******s/Brits/s***hole etc

  • Karl

    If you really believe that, lets meet back here in 5 years time and compare notes. By no objective measure can Brexit be good for the weakest most peripheral member of the union. Given that a majority in NI voted against Brexit in NI it is very difficult to see how a revitalised nationalist vote and proactive ROI involvement on border and trade issues strengthens the union.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “There must be a better way. We have it and it’s expressed in the GFA.”

    Spot on. There does seem to be a lot of running around like headless chickens at the moment with people going “however will we find a way to work through our differences over this.” We are in danger of reinventing the wheel. The GFA is still the only show in town and it represents a balanced, fair structure to work through in which no one has to lose. If only we’d adhere to its terms and its spirit a bit more.

    On its 20th anniversary next year, I’d love to see a re-dedication of all the parties to that hard-won agreement. But why wait, they should be doing it now.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    No and I campaigned for Remain. But Leave won and we need to respect the vote and get on with Brexit now calmly and constructively – Labour and the Tories agree on that and the vast bulk of the electorate is on board with it too.

    In N Ireland, I think 32-county nationalism piggy-backing on the issue was foreseeable and a gift to those politicians on the nationalist side who put the “border issue” ahead of all else. It really shouldn’t be, even after Brexit.

    As I say I was a Remainer and I want a referendum on the final deal with an option to vote back into the EU. But I don’t find the victim-playing within some parts of Irish nationalism over this very helpful at all. If anything you’re losing unionist Remain people and making the issue into the same-old, same-old united Ireland issue again. An opportunity for the Remain movement to be a positive cross-community force is being squandered by opportunistic united-Ireland-ism.

  • Granni Trixie

    Those who believe UI is on the horizon could prepare by
    pushing for resources to undertake research/study of compatibility of various systems n and s legal systems.

  • Granni Trixie

    So much for self determination!

  • Granni Trixie

    Lol. You’re enhancing mine.

  • Granni Trixie

    I’m inclined to agree with you …except…except…it would be sure to descend into disagreements plus it seems reasonable to assume that some would want changes in the light of learning.

  • Granni Trixie

    I believe this has happened to other people here.

  • Karl

    Wishful thinking. Did the DUP ever sign up to the GFA? Thats the first problem. The second is that it hasnt been adhered to in spirit from the get go. Battle a day and all that. Thirdly, while of its time 20 years ago, it is no longer relevant. Both sides have moved on to very different places.

    The GFA is dead. Stormont is dead. Plebiscites seem to be the way the UK looks to govern. I suspect this will be no different.

  • Karl

    Brexit brings the floating 10% middle ground into play. Politics isnt a game for fairness and gentlemanly conduct.
    There is nothing to convince me that unionist remainers will cross tribal lines to counter Brexit. As you’ve said, Brexit is done and must be implemented.

    There must be no mitigations or special cases for NI. Only then will NI have to pay the price of its unionist politicians hubris. Then the middle ground does swing behind unification.

    Given the unionist communitys ‘never missing and opportunity to miss an opportunity’ (Brexit being a prime example – not sure why you expect CNR to play nice when they’ve had 20 years of getting sand kicked in their face for their trouble), then you will have to excuse the other side for playing the game. Theres only so many times you can believe the person pissing on your leg telling you its raining.

  • Cináed mac Artri

    Unionists have nothing to “fear” from an all-island political structure, should one ever come about.

    In a one-island strategy the politicians that represent the majority in the present day Republic will set the tone, as they are the ones who represent the modern, secular pluralism that is Ireland in 2017.

    The bitter sectarian 1916ists of SF will be marginalised along with their ‘beat the Prods’ mentality.

    Unionists can be welcomed and accommodated within the Republic, their security assured and any concerns they may have addressed. The southern state has no interest in destabilising itself by pandering to the SF wet dream of nationalist triumphalism.

    Before they further hype a border poll northern nationalism needs to think about that, and this, the GFA requires that it takes two to tango. The people of the Republic also have a vote. It may be that today when the question is academic the majority here supports a UI.

    However if the poisoned politics and divided communities of the north still exist when a real poll is held a reluctance to take on an unsettled NI may manifest itself.

  • hgreen

    So trashing our economy is good for the union?

  • Skibo

    Doesn’t matter who asks the question. I said the FINAL answer and that will be reunification. There may be a couple of steps in between but I believe not.

  • Madra Uisce

    I tend to judge people on their posting history rather than their claims, Nevins output certainly puts him firmly in the Unionist camp coupled with with his extreme dislike for john hume. You on the other hand claim that you are an Alliance supporter/member and your posting history would tend to back that up. Others like for instance MU claim they are also Alliance supporters but their posting history reads DUP

  • Macca

    I think the cross party initiative for a new Universal health service in the ROI (surpassing the UK’s NHS) is part of the process of preparing the island for reunification and making it all as smooth and pain-free a process as possible. Ireland is a wealthy country and once returned to its all-island state I expect the north eastern counties to boom (economically) with international investment.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/extra-5-8bn-needed-over-decade-for-universal-health-says-report-1.3101358i

  • Granni Trixie

    I think it supports my scepticism of your method of detection of people political allegiance as I always assumed that MU was a member or at least a supporter of UUP and living in England now,Labour (.but not Corbyn).

  • NewSouthernMan

    Hear hear!

    I think 10 years should sort out the economic mess that the British will have left behind.

  • Reader

    kevin Breslin: It’s not England.
    Northern Ireland has the right to set its own Corporation Tax rate (but hasn’t used it)
    Scotland has the right to set its own Corporation Tax rate and modify its income tax rates (but hasn’t used them).
    As for the need for unanimity – I am sure I recall you mentioning that a country can become pretty damned unpopular through stuffing its EU partners by wielding a veto. I expect you realise that Ireland wouldn’t be immune to that effect, and that there would be consequences in areas where there isn’t a veto.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Elected might be stretching it a bit, Kevin.

  • chrisjones2

    They are criminals fighting for Territory – just like their IRA counterparts in Dublin and their SF associates (who now swear they never mentioned Gerry or Mary Lou, cross the hearts and hope to do 12 years)

  • chrisjones2

    They dont ….but listing to SF or DUP speeches has the same effect as potent narcotics

  • chrisjones2

    You arent that stupid….we offer a deal and if they reject it then countries like Germany and Ireland will pay the price

  • chrisjones2

    “The EU is not an empire , it is an economic union , ”

    Yes it is attracting more and more the role of empire. Own foreign service, own army and you cannot leave without penalties

    But keep believing you are free

  • chrisjones2

    Shes not negotiating the the media.

  • chrisjones2
  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    As Mick would say:

    “unless you can produce an argument to back that up, that’s just a wind up line.”

  • Kevin Breslin

    The DUP split over one of the most common narcotics of all … Cigarettes.

    I suppose that may be relaxed by some ciggy smuggling will simply be added to the list of “Brexit opportunities”

  • Sam Carruthers

    Your probably right as I have heard this aurgument before. It’ll be silly though as NI won’t budge for an RoI health system. The truth is the majority are too hard lined Britishers

  • Sam Carruthers

    “Unionists are a minority”
    What planet are you living on?

    Unionists are the vast majority.

  • Sam Carruthers

    I think he’s had 10 spliffs.