“it is tempting to conclude that SF has no strategy…”

From yesterday’s Irish News, Patrick Murphy, once again, making direct contact with the head of the nail.

While the DUP’s future role in Westminster is far from predictable, it is easy to understand. Sinn Féin’s strategy, however, is less clear. Indeed it is tempting to conclude that SF has no strategy, other than to prolong the talks and hope for a lucky break, similar to the one the DUP received in Westminster.

Sinn Féin collapsed Stormont because of the RHI scandal. But this issue rarely appears on their current wish list. Instead they have a list of demands ranging from the vague but reasonable (Irish language recognition), through the distracting (equality, but not for the poor) to the downright silly (demanding respect).

Respect has to be earned. In view of the years they spent chuckling with Paisley, Robinson and Foster, some might suggest that if they did not respect themselves, they cannot reasonably expect others to respect them.

SF’s claim that nationalists were failed by Stormont is untrue. Stormont failed everyone, but because SF relies on nationalist votes, it re-wrote the assembly’s performance as having failed only nationalists and then expanded that claim into the current list of demands.

They have raised nationalist expectations, but it is difficult to see them getting all they seek. So are they deliberately making demands which they know will not be met, or will they re-write their shopping list in the autumn and settle for less? Re-writing has served them well in the past.

So the bad news about the talks breaking up this week is that our politicians missed watching the Irish Open on television in the comfort of Stormont Castle. But the talks prospects for the rest of July are good. Their agenda items will presumably include watching the Tour de France and possibly the Ulster Football Final.

Well, the opening week of Le Tour has been very interesting…

[Is Mickey Mouse still blocking the ascent on le Mont du Chat? – Ed]

He has been removed…

 

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  • NewSouthernMan

    MU, a very insightful analysis! I agree, Brexit has changed everything and SF don’t see a future in Stormont.

  • Skibo

    What is in a name? Unionism knows the place as Ulster!
    They worked the system. They worked for the good of the community as a whole.
    Your final statement says all that is wrong with the system and apparently still is, “The DUP didn’t have to reciprocate as they are happy with the current constitutional arrangements.”
    When Unionism learns the advantages of reciprocity, we can move on.

  • mickfealty

    Fixed term parliament act allows for multiple votes of confidence.

  • Brendan Heading

    Would agree with most of that, though I’d struggle to point to policy achievements by DUP, SDLP, UUP or Alliance. SF isn’t the only lacklustre party.

    SF are the subject of this thread so to talk about other parties would be changing the subject.

    David Ford and Stephen Farry did take policy initiatives as far as they could. Ford pushed hard on securing agreement to get rid of peacelines and made some progress with this. Farry protected university tuition fee levels and tried to consolidate teacher training, in line with Alliance policy (but was overturned in the executive).

    DUP Ministers can point to a few successes. Free transport for the elderly was an earlier manifesto commitment, which they persuaded the rest of the executive to back; it’s still with us. Peter Robinson as DRD minister secured support for regenerating the railway network. It’s easy to forget that immediately prior to devolution the government were actively considering the closure of NI’s entire railway system except the cross-border service.

    Those are just things I recall off the top of my head. They’re examples of parties changing established thinking within their departments. I can’t think of a single example of SF successfully doing this – I’d be happy to stand corrected.

    So, a “decline”? Maybe, but it looks like wishful thinking on the part of political rivals.

    I can’t question your analysis here as it is clearly sound and you’ve correctly called out the pitfalls that SF face. But to be slightly pedantic, I did not say SF were declining; I predicted that they would soon face decline. They’re doing what SYRIZA did, promising their supporters a radical overhaul in government that they won’t be able to deliver.

  • Brendan Heading

    I wouldn’t question SF’s strength, personally. What I question is whether or not they know what to do with it.

  • Brendan Heading

    It depends what you mean by “useless at politics”. They’re clearly able to win elections and seem to have successfully persuaded their supporters to ignore their ten year record in government.

    They’re useless at government, certainly. The DUP are better, but not much. when it comes to doing favours for their support base the DUP probably outstrip SF in terms of handing out public money in a less than transparent manner.

    On the part about a united Ireland, I think that’s part of where the problem lies. Governing Northern Ireland and making it work well, which I believe deep down many of them realise they need to do, is fundamentally a contradiction of the idea that Northern Ireland cannot be successful until it is part of a UI.

    On flags and bonfires, this isn’t an SF thing. I do read your comments about how bonfires used to be done, things have clearly changed and we’re at the point where many laws are being broken and people are being forced out of their homes and are seeing damage to their business. Local people are afraid to speak out about this for fear of intimidation. I hope it never happens, but eventually someone is going to be seriously injured or die at one of those bonfire sites. That’s what it took at Drumcree to shake people out of how ridiculous and dangerous all this is.

    Shitting in your own bed because you think it annoys SF is stupid.
    SF and their voters couldn’t really care less about loyalist bonfires; most of them live nowhere near one and are unaffected by what happens. All they’re doing is wrecking and poisoning the neighbourhoods they live in.

  • Brendan Heading

    I think those things are more illustrative of an absence of strategy than anything else.

  • Brendan Heading

    That will require a realignment of Nationalist politics and a requirement to put party politics to the side for the greater good of the country

    You can rule SF out of that one.

  • Brendan Heading

    I don’t think SF had a strategy to bring down Stormont; they were wedded to it because they had no other plan – perhaps hoping that one would present itself – but then found that even this became impalatable following the assent of Arlene Foster.

    A couple of slightly different and relatively inconsequential decisions by the DUP would have avoided SF leaving the Executive. The article here covers how SF have no strategy, but we should add that the DUP don’t have one either. It should be more than clear to everyone by now that the best way to keep SF’s support base in check is a bear hug; the DUP didn’t show any awareness of this, picking little fights all the way along.

  • Skibo

    Zeno3 a low blow on Caral. Her budget was drastically reduced. Cuts were across the board. Another sign of your jumping on anything to bash Sinn Fein.

  • Skibo

    NO you cannot. A realignment of Nationalist politics is all Nationalist politics. How do you infer you can rule Sinn Fein out?

  • Zeno3

    Provide a link showing her budget cut and what other cuts she made apart from the cuts to the Irish Language.

  • Skibo

    Brendan all I have hear you go on about so far is what Sinn Fein are not doing for the people of Northern Ireland or for the all Ireland project.
    You give the impression that they have no strategy but is it not a strategy to increase your mandate to such a level that you can effect the direction of the country?
    If that is the case, then they are very successful. Have they achieved the level they desire yet to be able to effect that direction, I don’t think so but it continues on an upward trend and success will lead to success.

  • Zeno3

    I agree. They are now focusing on Health & Safety at Bonfires. They haven’t a clue.

  • Skibo

    In the same way Caral took the initiative of the ILA as far as she could but it was the DUP that blocked it, not Sinn Fein.
    Peter may have saved the railways but they saved them for the East. The Derry line is a poor relation.
    The extension of the M1 as a dual carriageway on to the Ballygawley roundabout was a SF initiative.
    The money invested in numerous agricultural schemes were SF initiatives. The modification of the Single Farm Payment was a SF initiative. Michelle had tried to use certain streams of the DRD finances to direct them towards specific initiatives at that time also but was blocked by a Simon Hamilton taking her department to court.
    The Bengoa Review, while having the blessing of all parties was led by Sinn Fein.
    In blocking the Maze project Peter Robinson brought the investment to the whole scheme to a standstill.
    There have been numerous schools extended and further ones built on new sites.
    Sinn Fein assisted in securing funds from the British Government for shared campuses, much of which the DUP Minister had to hand back.
    The Narrowwater project was not blocked by Sinn Fein, neither was the A5 dualing, both of which resulted in lost funds, either from the EU or the Irish Government.

  • Georgie Best

    SF are generally useless, and a combination of unionist intransigence and their own economic illiteracy has undermined them. Martin McGuinness did try to make things work, but all he got in return was “no surrender” and then the unionists jumped on Brexit as a strategy to bring us back to the past. Meanwhile in the south they have been pursuing a protest strategy that will never reach the bulk of responsible people and which is always prone to being undermined by those further left.
    There was an available strategy, do make NI work, but also insist that border areas are not disadvantaged by inadequate cross border services. This approach might have made NI a sort of success, but they could have then still relied on the British to mess things up by themselves and on the even greater success of the ROI. But SF have been arguing in the south that everything is in a bad way, so they cannot then do the obvious in NI such as call for pensions or children’s allowance to be increased to ROI levels and have notably never done so.

  • Skibo

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-28806827
    That took all of two seconds. You have such a selective memory. Remember all the rumpus about the possibility of losing the Ulster Orchestra, never mind the loss of funds to museums. Catch yourself on Zeno3!

  • David Crookes

    Paralegality…..

  • Georgie Best

    They are exposing hypocrisy, which may be useful. Belfast city council have threatened to fine anyone putting stuff in the wrong bin while turning a blind eye to environmental disaster every year.

  • Skibo

    If people would actually use the law that is already in place there would be no reason the introduce any legislation on health and safety.
    It is illegal to dump rubbish. It is illegal to transport rubbish without a carrier’s license. It is illegal to burn rubbish unless under controlled conditions.
    It is illegal to dispose of tyres unless through a licensed authority.
    As usual ar culture is used as a weapon to decide what laws you will obey and what laws you will ride a horse and cart through.

  • Accountant

    What exactly is in this Bill of Rights ? One man/woman one vote, the right to benefits and housing, a free education, access to fair policing and trials, the right not to be racially or sexually prejudiced, the right to go have a job, national security, the right to say what you want in whichever language you want, the right to drive or walk down the [queen’s] highway, not to be enslaved, murdered or have FGM performed ?

  • Accountant

    Belfast City Council is acting entirely properly where there is a risk to health and safety. But Inveraray Park ? That requires an explanation (and “it’s a play park” does not qualify).

  • Skibo

    Sounds like a great place to start. If we are coming out of the EU and losing access to the ECHR and the ECJ, it will be all the more important.

  • hgreen

    The deliberate decision not to say N.I. indicates to me a party unwilling to compromise and do what’s necessary to win the trust of the unionist community towards a UI. IMO SF are now the biggest barrier to a UI.

  • Skibo

    And would you be a supporter of a UI?
    If the Unionist parties cannot be convinced of the benefits of an Irish Language Act how would they be convinced of the rights of a UI by saying Northern Ireland?

  • hgreen

    I’m absolutely a supporter of a UI but I only want it when we have most of the unionist community on board. Again SF have weaponised the Irish language. Why have they only taken an interest in it in the last 2 years when the GFA is 20 years old? They are a divisive party rather than a party that will bring about unification.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Nevin, you do not seem to understand the matter of opportunity. The Wesminster System of individual ministerial responsibility has always been there, but the RHI has made it a vivid issue where a for a short moment everyone but the most entreated of DUP supporters could clearly see that Arlene was culpable. Her refusing to step down is one of those things which my political contacts over the after are telling me is strongly discrediting our political practice in the eyes of “real people” over there.

    In fact, there have been no such opportunities until now, as none of the other ministerial gaffs have been so glaring or have produced such public indignation. I’m surprised that someone who so regularly brings up issues of political failings on smaller issues here should not recognise that this is an opportunity to compel our political culture to at least begin to recognise those British standards of political probity which a continuing membership of the United Kingdom should ensure are the norm here. It is the same Unionist position as 1968 and before, one quality of political standards over the water, and what we can get away with over here.

    All I’m doing is demanding that the same standard of political probity as Westminster, the other UK assemblies, the Dáil, and most Commenwealth Assemblies currently insisted upon, to be demanded of our own politicians, in what has luckily become a significant enough public issue for the need to be highlighted. I simply cannot see how this can in any way be described as “partisan party bashing” by anyone other than someone utterly besotted by the “Norn Iron lady” and her party.

  • Reader

    chrisjones2: Expect the Tories to force it through though but if the DUP don’t support it it fails so Arlene has a decision…
    Three options:
    1) Keep existing boundaries – OK with DUP, not good for Tories.
    2) Reduce seats from 650 to 600 – Terrible for DUP, Great for Tory leadership, some unhappy Tory MPs
    3) Boundary changes with existing number of seats – OK for DUP, good for Tories.
    Expect option 3.

  • mjh

    However, since Option 3 would require a complete re-run of the Boundary Review process, we could end up with Option 1 by default in any election called within the next three years or so.

  • Nevin

    “someone utterly besotted by the “Norn Iron lady” and her party.”

    Quite, Seaan; that would be, er, you and you’re familiar anti-unionist ranting. Those who are not Jacobite groupies will see that ministers from a range of parties feature in my NALIL blogs, including the ‘Norn Iron Lady’.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “….you…….. will see that ministers from a range of parties feature in my NALIL blogs”

    But apparently not the all important “individual ministerial responsibility” for some reason? That’s what puzzles me! I simply cannot begin to see how the parallel failure of Treasury Best Practice here somehow lets your girl off the hook. Of course the wall of Arlene pin-ups I’d imagined behind you was simply me striving to make sense of why you appear to imagine she should not be called to book according to normal Westminster usage. You are so very cryptic at times………

  • Nevin

    A raft of ministers appears but I wouldn’t list any of them as pin-ups! As we don’t operate by Westminster usage then your finger-pointing is irrelevant.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Westminster usage Nevin, is the default for all three devolved assemblies, just as it is with every other assembly derived from the Mother of Parliaments. Where is your proof that we somehow should not operate by Westminster system? Hard, I know, because, the Westminster System itself is, like the British Constitution, usage, not some written constitution.

    What you are seemingly referring to, I think, is the problem we are experiencing from not having put any proper accountability structures in place here, which is why our ministers are not publicly held accountable to Westminster usage as they would be over the water. Steven Agnew has been pressing this very important issue for some time now. Where we are at present is rather like having laws but no police force to apply them. But you will perhaps note that contact with “real people” ensured that when such issues were raised before, Peter Robinson nodded at Westminster usage by stepping down until an in-house solicitor wrote him a wee note for Westminster. Arlene knows that such a subterfuge is impossible in her case, which is why she is brass necking it out. I’m also told she has possibly claimed that she believes that standing down would somehow be a legal admission of guilt, but that is an anecdotal, from an aide to someone else entirely.

  • Nevin

    ” Where is your proof that we somehow should not operate by Westminster system?”

    Stormont claims to follow Treasury best practice but doesn’t. You name-check Arlene and Peter but none of the ministers from other parties that feature in the Belfast Deficit.. We don’t know how useless the Greens would be as they haven’t held office.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You are simply proving a falling short of practice by our boys and girls, Nevin, not the point at issue, which is that the Westminster System of Ministerial Responsibility is what our Masters should also be following in practice.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Paddy, not sure where those figures are from? Here is a table from the last census, via wikipedia page on NI demographics:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/56b96541f8f0b8926245089b066f0f48051a840d23ae5f1b86fd3493a84fdfd2.png

    Your projections I think ignore two key factors: (1) that there’s a percentage of the ‘Catholic’ population who are from overseas, not Irish Catholics – and don’t necessarily follow Irish Catholic voting patterns or share united Ireland aspirations; and (2) the No Religion group, who mainly live in Protestant areas in the east of the province and who in matters other than religion behave much more like Protestants than Catholics. Then there is also the group who won’t state their religion.

    The Catholic percentage of the population overall, including non-Irish Catholics, went from 40.2 per cent to 40.8 per cent. Take the non-Irish Catholics out of that and there’s virtually no growth. The ‘Protestant’ figure may be falling but Protestants as we know them are not reducing significantly – many are just eschewing religion entirely and going into the “No Religion / Not Stated” column, as a lesser number of Catholics also are.

    What we’re seeing is the long-term erosion of the old religiously-based identities, and the erosion of the ability to read voting purely from religion. Good riddance to that too.

  • Barneyt

    In some ways the text supposed sf has a strategy by questioning their next step whilst at the same time suggesting they are akin to rudderless and waiting for crumbs.

    However as we are second guessing then it’s fair to ask if they know which direction they will travel.

    With this DUP/Tory arrangement you could forgive them for biding their time, supplying rope and waiting for the next almighty cock up. That would perhaps constitute a strategic move on SFs part? With brexit, the sordid deal, rhi, seasonal sectarianism etc more masks will slip, especially over here.

    They’ve cut a furrow now by effectively adding another abstention to their list. If they renege on their assembly demands ( particularly the important ones) it will damage them several-fold in both jurisdictions. I’d say they’re giving this some thought and it would be foolish of their rivals to think otherwise.

  • Barneyt

    Eaten if they do and eaten if they don’t. Depends who’s hungry

  • Barneyt

    Not all the time. If you look at unionism and republicanism ( I hate being so generic) you can find traditions and wants that deserve consideration and from that, respect. Identity being one. They need not be earned but understood, as much of who we are is branded at birth and enhanced through nurture. I’m talking about the good stuff. There are of course other matters that need to be doused in fuel and respectively set alight

  • Barneyt

    Is that all it takes? Say Northern Ireland instead of the north and we have reunification?

  • Barneyt

    I did a bit of digging on that and the general phrase, “every word of Irish spoken represents another bullet fired in the battle for freedom…” was uttered in 82 up in the northwest. This caused outrage and yes, the Irish language was not helped. However unionists have used this phrase too with a bit of tweaking I.e sammy Wilson. He’s a catch isn’t he. So had this bullet/freedom comment been addressed properly rather than embraced then the unionists would win the Irish weaponisation debate hands down…but they didn’t

  • Nevin

    There are several points at issue, including your hang-up about Arlene. Perhaps you’re suffering from a ‘blonde’ moment or a ‘bad hair’ day!

    PS It’s family history research time of year so I’ll terminate this little exchange.

  • Paddy Reilly

    http://belfastmediagroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Screen-Shot-2013-05-21-at-14.29.37-15.54.432.png

    My projections are no longer projections. Since this year’s Assembly elections they are attempts at explanation.

    I am aware that in Fermanagh South Tyrone 57.69% of the population is Catholic but only 52% of the population voted for SF/SDLP. This I attribute to a population of Timorese who have not been incorporated in the voting population.

    But of course in the long term foreign Catholics, through attending the same schools and churches, end up intermarrying with Irish and adopting their prejudices, so this is a declining tendency.

    However in West Belfast 16.65% of the population are Protestant, but they haven’t won an Assembly seat since 2003. This I attribute to a body of Protestants who have married Catholics and moved over to the other side, politically. Similarly Foyle.

    It is not necessary for Irish Catholics to be over 50% of the population for Nationalist ideology to prevail, only to be larger in number than the Protestant faction: only if 100% of the ‘Others’ turn out to vote with the Unionist camp will a Nationalist plurality be thwarted.

    But as you know that this is not the case, I take it you will welcome my suggestion above, We could have a referendum on some aspect of reunification every year, moving seamlessly into a United Ireland. This is what Unionism definitely does not want: an appeal to the electorate, whose Unionist sympathies can no longer be guaranteed. since you know that it is destined to fail?

  • Lionel Hutz

    The most fundamental problem I think in Northern Ireland politics is that people have lost faith the potential for something looking like good government or the idea that what happens in stormont has any potential to materially improve their lives.

    And so voters put their stock in other ideas like communal strength and sticking one in the eye of the other lot.

    Sinn Fein and DUP will remain dominant unless and until other parties convince the public that government is a place where ideas and actions can result in significant improvements in the lives of our people. And then of course convince them that they are the people who can produce such results.

    I just can’t see how that will ever be achieved

  • hgreen

    Don’t be so stupid.

  • hgreen

    What are you on about? I don’t give a monkey’s what idiots like Sammy Wilson think. I don’t like Irish culture being used as a weapon against Unionists who own that culture as much as I do.

    Just because someone from the loyalist community behaves like a dickhead doesn’t mean nationalists should do the same.

  • Zeno3

    Just out of curiosity, what is the percentage of Catholics who vote for Nationalist Parties or describe themselves as Nationalists?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Good to know you’ll be productively employed over the next few days Nevin.

    I dare say some SF minister may give us a similar opportunity to insist on proper practice, but for now I’m sorry (for your sake) it had to be Arlene. Oh, could you remind me who coined the term “Norn Iron Lady” on Slugger?

  • Skibo

    HG if you are waiting for most of the Unionist community to start openly supporting a UI, you will have a long wait. The very fact that they are Unionist means they support the Union.
    What I want is a UI when the majority of the community as a whole support it. What you need to keep an eye on is the percentage of the Unionist community who, while not openly supportive of a UI, are accepting if it was to happen.
    The issue of Sinn Fein’s support for the Irish Language is just a Unionist agenda to divide and conquer those who support the language.
    How can you weaponise a language? A language is only a spoken and written word. It can be used to support the union just as much as it can be used to support Irish reunification.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You don’t address my point though about the numbers not designating as either Catholic or Protestant – over 300,000 people in the table I showed of actual religious affiliation and in yours (which goes on people’s willingness to declare “community background”) it’s still just shy of 118,000 people. We know from other data about these people that very few, perhaps as little as 20 per cent, have broadly nationalist leanings in terms of identity, with the vast majority being pro-NI and/or Pro-Union. That is, they are overwhelmingly people formerly designated as Protestant and who actually for all practical political purposes still act “like Protestants”. They are not necessarily apolitical people, just people who are, we can assume, switched off from the ethnic divide to such a degree they don’t want to be associated with it. This is the biggest growth group in N Ireland. You can’t understand the ethnic group numbers without taking into account the extent of this Protestant redesignation.

    I can see why someone wanting some kind of Catholic triumph through population growth, or in fear of it, might take the reading you have. But I would urge you to factor in (1) the overseas-born Catholic population (2 per cent or so) and (2) the redesignation of what once would have been parts of the “Protestant community” (and these are very much people I know, indeed this is me, if I still lived there), then see where it ends up. I’m interested in these figures but not a statistician – I offer only an educated guess – but I think the real figures for what we might call ‘culturally Catholic / Irish’ are about 43 per cent and for what we might call the ‘culturally Protestant / British’ about 52 per cent, with the rest non-afiliated people from overseas and/or of genuinely mixed backgrounds (though actually there will be plenty of mixed backgrounds within the ‘blocks’). But that’s my best reading of how the community proportions really stand now. The rate of change, if there is one, is glacially slow now. The big shifts happened 20-40 years ago – it seems to have flattened out again at the low 40s vs low 50s level.

    The main point though is that for 20 years we’ve had more or less parity and we will continue to have for a long time to come – and we should deal with each other on that basis.

  • Paddy Reilly

    I believe about 89% of Catholics vote for SF/SDLP, and 11% for Alliance and Green. However we have a partial transferred vote system, and Alliance and Green voters, when their candidate is eliminated, transfer to the SDLP at a rate of something like 35 – 42%, with possibly as many as 18% not transferring at all.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Thank you for your reassurances that the possibilities of a Fenian majority in NI are just pie in the sky, which have been refuted by your masterful analysis of statistics. I can sleep better in my bed now. However, to my great surprise I find that you have not answered my crucial question: would you support the notion of an annual referendum on some matter of reunification? We could unify the Irish Prison Service one year, Hospitals the next, etc etc. Or not if the population votes against it. This I think should be the strategy of any Nationalist Party once Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister. Can we rely on your support?

  • Zeno3

    That’s obviously based on Catholics who vote. That’s the answer to a different question.
    Maybe I wasn’t clear enough. What percentage of all Catholics vote for Nationalist Parties?

  • Paddy Reilly

    There is no body of Catholics who will not vote, unlike for example Jehovah’s Witnesses who abstain as a religious principle.

    The percentage of the population who vote goes up and down depending on the seriousness of the matter being voted on. The Good Friday Agreement Referendum achieved a turnout of 81.14%, whereas the turnout in the 2009 European Parliament Election was under 43%.

    It is impossible to know how genuine these figures are, since so many people on the Electoral Register could have died or moved away: in some cases, as with foreign nationals and children who are not quite 18, their name appears on the register, but it would be illegal for them to vote.

    Equally there is no reason to suppose that the non-voters in one election are the same as the non-voters in another.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think referenda should be once in a generation, at most. The GFA says no more often than once every 7 years. So no, I don’t think an annual referendum is healthy, though I can see why a side that only needs to win once to get permanent victory would logically want as many referenda as possible. Scotland now is a prime example of what can happen when the losing side keeps putting the question again and again until it gets the answer it wants – (1) people are pretty annoyed about the result not being respected; and (2) it means this issue dominates political life, to the detriment of proper politics addressing the real issues of health, education, the economy, immigration, defence etc that actually need an awful lot more of our time and energy.

    The polls show a very clear preference for keeping power-sharing government in NI within the UK – there is no alternative with anything like the public support, or the ability to pacify substantial parts of both communities. That Ipsos MORI poll I quoted was 63/22 and that’s not untypical. At best the united Ireland side might get to 40 per cent, but I even think that’s unlikely, mid-30s is probably the level when the fence-sitters are removed from the stats. Why are you pressing for a united Ireland in the short to medium term in these circumstances? The SoS has to call a referendum if it seems the UI case has some chance of winning. It’s still a long way off that and I see little sign of that changing.

  • Paddy Reilly

    As I explain in my previous post, a Corbyn led government might be the right time for a replacement to the GFA. In any case, the GFA is only binding because it was a vote of the whole people: a vote of the whole people of today supersedes one from 20 years ago. We are not bound by the will of dead men: only the living have a say in our affairs. The reunification process needs to be achieved in bite sized pieces: each stage will take massive reorganisation. I am proposing yearly votes on different aspects of reunification, not a repetition of the same one, if rejected.

    It seems you oppose consulting the whole of the people and wish to base your policies on Ipsos Mori opinion polls and your own interpretation of the Census. Why am I not surprised? Nevertheless, the democratic movement must press on to implement true democracy and not be fooled by self-appointed experts in the popular mood.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The GFA says the referendum happens only if the SoS believes there is a chance of a UI winning. How does he decide if it is? Election results and polls. But as elections aren’t on the UI question specifically, the polls are actually a better guide.

    I think you’re living in cloud cuckoo land though, Paddy, with this ‘annual polls’ thing – where has that ever been done before and why would we put ourselves through that? It sounds a recipe for chaos. I don’t appreciate supporters of the GFA being referred to as undemocratic – we’re actually proposing sticking to a democratically agreed, voted for agreement. Your proposal is to follow the wishes of a minority, yet you’re touting yourself as the superior democrat here? Come off it.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Democratically agreed, voted for agreement: yes: but twenty years ago. Many of those who voted for it are dead now. Many who were not born at the time now have the right to vote. What you are touting is not democracy, but necrocracy.

    But as Karl Marx said, it is not Habeas Corpus that characterises the constitution of Ireland, but the suspension of Habeas Corpus. Equally what characterises the constitution of Northern Ireland is not the consultation of the electorate, but the advancing of reasons why the electorate should not be consulted.

    We can just hope that Jeremy Corbyn appoints someone helpful as Secretary of State.