Brexit won’t be the Holy Grail some nationalists think it is…

Nice interview by Allison Morris with Mervyn Gibson…

Rev Gibson, who voted in favour of Brexit, says he thinks Sinn Féin see Britain leaving the EU as “useful tool in their propaganda machine”.

“I was in favour of Brexit and returning sovereignty to the UK in general, I was fed up with EU telling us what to do.

“Regarding the border, as long as there is a border and it stays where it is I don’t care if it is hard, soft or whatever.

“Preferably it’ll be a soft border, but that will be in the hands of Europe, it won’t be in the hands of the UK.

“You can see how Sinn Féin think it is useful for their propaganda machine, but it won’t be the Holy Grail they think it is, it won’t be a ticket to a United Ireland”

  • hgreen

    Oh so disagreeing with our political situation is now classed as mopery? I know you loyalists love to doff the cap and enjoy the status of being subjects but you really need to develop a more critical mindset.

  • Oggins

    Hmm we are not talking about a neighbourhood. We talking about were the posters are (highly likely) born raised and have several generations of family.

    For you to determine a fair comment by someone to move out because they questioned the point that many Catholics are not happy in the UK isn’t equitable.

    HGreen was not moping, he questioned the previous writers posting, in which you responded with the childish comeback.

    I for one and like many I guess on this blog contribute to NI society in many forms, which is not detailed here. So don’t come out with, if you don’t like it change it. You and I do not know the full extent of people’s contributes to society, so this is no defence and a smoke screen or justification for your childish almost sinister comment. I say sinister because you feel it’s acceptable to tell people to move if they don’t like the status quo. We have seen enough of real life situations where good people have had to move locally usually due to their religious beliefs (both sides).

    *Reading this blog* – you take from this blog what you allow yourself to see. What happens in this blog is a circle, where depending on the current politics, one side will cry foul more than the other. It swings in roundabouts as they say. So I would encourage you not to come out with that defence, because in the near future we will have some scandal relating to unionism and the shoe will be on the other foot.

    Can you see how your comments in telling people to move out seem childlike and sinister? I am assuming you don’t stand by them still?

  • Surveyor

    According to Lord Kilclooney we’re second class citizens. But hey, stop moping, right?

  • Reader

    Lizmcneill: Unelected Whitehall bureaucrats.
    So, you think bureaucrats will get control, and mac tire thinks government ministers. Given the fundamental disagreement, it was kind of you both to upvote each other, and kinder still for Kevin to upvote you both.
    Wouldn’t it make more sense to agree on something before the mutual congratulations begin?

  • sparrow

    ‘By calling it alien, it was invalidating British national identity on the island.’
    No, it was challenging the right of the British government to have administrative control of any part of Ireland. ‘Alien’ simply means ‘foreign’. It was commonly used in the early parts of the 20th century in citizenship matters. The declaration was simply saying that a foreign government shouldn’t have any say in the government of a sovereign Irish republic.What is odd about that? Even recently, the British government put out a statement saying that there would be no joint sovereignty over the north. If the British aren’t prepared to share sovereignty now, why would the Irish share it 100 years ago? As for claiming the allegiance of all its citizens, can you name me one other country in the world that doesn’t do the same through oaths of offices, pledges of loyalty, etc? Noone is denying the right of people to be British, or denying their right to be here, or disputing that they are every bit as indigenous as anyone else here. What was being challenged in the declaration of independence, and what is still challenged by nationalists today, is the right of the British in Ireland – a minority of citizens – to undermine the sovereignty of Ireland by continuing to assert a constitutional link with Great Britain. Your Britishness should be recognised and cherished in an all Ireland state; it certainly doesn’t give you the right to create a gerrymandered state within Ireland in order to maintain some sort of perceived special status on this island.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Oh I think most are – most unionists after all want as soft a border as possible, even in the DUP. But I think there’s also a pragmatic unionist view that says some nationalists seem to be going a bit OTT about how much of a calamity this will be. That actually, we’ll probably work something out that won’t be that bad – so let’s be relaxed about it and constructive about getting something that broadly works.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I didn’t realise that – how come? I thought RBS as sponsors always had their logo on the pitch?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    but are they not highly civilised countries?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Oh right, I thought you were talking about the blue shirt teams of the Six Nations, Scotland, France and Italy … Insert obvious political reference to Fine Gael

  • the keep

    Many fair points there Oggins of course I wouldn’t want anybody to leave Northern Ireland but my point still stands about whining about N Ireland it’s tiresome and what does it achieve? If you could give me one example where Nationalists are discriminated against I would be surprised.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    This has prompted me to revisit Pope John Paul II’s speech to the massive crowd in Phoenix Park on his historic visit to Ireland in 1979 – something I remember well from childhood. There was much attention at the time on what he would say about Northern Ireland. The context in 1979 was that the violence was overwhelmingly Republican-dominated – 75 per cent of Troubles deaths in 1978 and 84 per cent in 1979. Here are a few clips of what he said – it was strikingly clear that he regarded it unequivocally as terrorism and that he thought it unequivocally wrong:

    ” … Christianity does not command us to close our eyes to difficult human problems. It does not permit us to neglect and refuse to see unjust social or international situations. What Christianity does forbid is to seek solutions to these situations by the ways of hatred, by the murdering of defenceless people, by the methods of terrorism. Let me say more: Christianity understands and recognizes the noble and just struggle for justice; but Christianity is decisively opposed to fomenting hatred and to promoting or provoking violence or struggle for the sake of “struggle”. The command, “Thou shalt not kill”, must be binding on the conscience of humanity, if the terrible tragedy and destiny of Cain is not to be repeated.”

    The word “struggle” quite deliberately chosen there, echoing the Republicans’ “armed struggle”.

    He went on:
    “… peace cannot be established by violence, peace can never flourish in a climate of terror, intimidation and death. It is Jesus himself who said : “All who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Mt 26 :52). This is the word of God, and it commands this generation of violent men to desist from hatred and violence and to repent … ”

    I think the most powerful part is this:
    “I pray with you that the moral sense and Christian conviction of Irish men and women may never become obscured and blunted by the lie of violence, that nobody may ever call murder by any other name than murder, that the spiral of violence may never be given the distinction of unavoidable logic or necessary retaliation.”

    Nobody may ever call murder by any other name than murder.

    Then in this section, he seems to turn specifically to the IRA particularly here, with the specific reference to Ireland as “the land you claim to love”:
    “Now I wish to speak to all men and women engaged in violence … You may claim to seek justice. I too believe in justice and seek justice. But violence only delays the day of justice. Violence destroys the work of justice. Further violence in Ireland will only drag down to ruin the land you claim to love and the values you claim to cherish. In the name of God I beg you: return to Christ, who died so that men might live in forgiveness and peace.”

    Specifically to young people involved in the paramilitaries:
    “I appeal to young people who may have become caught up in organizations engaged in violence. I say to you, with all the love I have for you, with all the trust I have in young people: do not listen to voices which speak the language of hatred, revenge, retaliation. Do not follow any leaders who train you in the ways of inflicting death.”

    Worth reading in full:

    Any SF voters / supporters care to comment? Why exactly did Adams, McGuinness, Morrison, Maskey and all the rest dismiss and ignore what the Pope asked of them?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    But the Pope was super clear in 1979 when he came to Ireland about the wrong of terrorism and political violence:

  • Oggins

    Your point is fallacy. It is not related to the discussion or arguement.

    Trying to argue a different point because your original pointed has been muted, or my favourite term of late, the circle has been completed.

    I have not once, not did Hugh say nationalists are being discriminated against presently. There is plenty of evidence on years gone by. I am assuming you recognise this?

    What point, subject or story has this came from? I.e. why are you persisting on this point, when it’s not in context to this blog, or discussion thread?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The point was that the UK was not alien, or foreign, to unionists. By declaring it alien or foreign, it was accusing unionists of having allegiance to a foreign country and was stating such allegiance to be illegitimate, therefore of infinitely lesser value than nationalists’ own national allegiances.

    The passage I was drawing attention to was not about rejecting British sovereignty in Ireland as you suggest, it was about the references to differences in allegiance between people in Ireland – “the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government”, to which the forgers of the new republic ought to be “oblivious”. This is not exactly the language of parity of esteem, is it. Our allegiances were “fostered by an alien Government” and therefore not only not of equal value to those of Irish nationalists, but consigned to oblivion. From a heavily armed group attempting a coup, this was scary stuff.

    I have no problem with those writing the Declaration asking for the allegiance of all on the island, or hoping to gain it by persuasion. But this is a document advanced by a faction at the point of a gun, in which these characters claim they are “entitled” – entitled – to the allegiance of everyone. You don’t need to be a unionist to want to tell them to shove it where the sun don’t shine. This just after they’ve told a million people their views and interests are of no interest to them. Um, two way street, dudes …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    That’s a question for each individual person. But I know few who feel Irish in the national-political sense, otherwise you’re not really unionist, are you … many middle class unionists, especially of the rugby club variety, are comfortable being called Irish in the broad sense of coming from the island of Ireland. But invariably it comes along with a parallel Britishness and/or Northern Ireland identity.

    I can’t think of any unionist I know who is just Irish and absolutely nothing else, though there may be a few tucked away somewhere. If you think about it, it would be quite an odd position for a unionist to be in. People who want to go that way generally become nationalists or at least not unionists. There are quite a few of those it seems in academia and the arts, not much elsewhere.

  • LighterSide…

    Fareed Zakaria(CNN analyst) had an interesting take on the appeal of Al-Quaeda to young Muslim men. Viewing it as a geo-political phenomenon rather than a religious one, he said that with the fall of the Ottoman empire and the rise of Western influence in the middle east,young Muslims sought an ideology that told them it was okay to fight back against Western powers.
    He figured it wasn’t that Wahabiism warped their minds as much as they just wanted to be masters in their own house again.
    He pointed out that in the 70’s and 80’s the same type of young man would have sought out a Marxist ideology if it told him it was okay to use violence to achieve his goals, which it did.
    I think people often mix up cart and horse when it comes to religion. People pick the religion that suits them, and a lot of people these days find that no religion suits them, so they are atheists.
    People bend and shape religion and its various sects and off-shoots to suit their inclinations as much as religion shapes people’s beliefs.
    The fact that (I assume) many IRA men considered themselves good Catholics in spite of the Pope’s stance is evidence of this.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    thanks – sometimes good to go back to the fundamentals and look at what these seminal documents actually say. The long failure of united Irelandism we’ve witnessed was written right into the Declaration. But even now there is denial from its proponents.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Ungenerous words Stephen. We are only expressing how we see things and trying to be frank and open on here. We come from a different national group from yourself, it’s likely we’ll have a different perspective. I’m not asking you to agree, indeed if you’re not interested, don’t engage, just skip onto the next post.

    I’m personally not trying to offend anyone and to be honest see no reason why anyone should be offended at what is basically fairly mainstream opinion, liberal and against political violence and paramilitarism. These should not be controversial positions.

    Critiquing Irish nationalism is I know slightly more controversial for some people, but again I would argue Irish nationalism should be as open to scrutiny as any other belief system, political movement or framework of ideas. Unionism has no shortage of critics; nationalism really can’t expect to escape either. I am not an ogre for pointing out its flaws and not dead either to the flaws in unionism. This is an analysis and debate site after all. Vive la difference.

  • MainlandUlsterman


  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think that’s spot on – there can be an urge among many young lads to be violent (societally learnt through school, parents, wider culture). If apparently credible, authoritative organisations in your community give you the green light – telling you not only that it IS allowed, but that you can become a legend for doing it, with all that brings in status and fame – it’s like a dream come true for some young lads.

    The work of Rogelio Alonso among former IRA members is fascinating on this. He writes about how unpolitically sophisticated and poorly educated the vast majority of recruits were – and how vague their motivations were. That suited the paramilitary leaderships – kids got their “education” inside the gang, from them and could thus be shaped into the kind of tools the leadership wanted to use.

    The Quilliam Foundation does some great analysis in that vein. Lots to learn for Northern Ireland from its work.

  • LighterSide…

    just a little joke on the Radical Republican Agenda (Karl)

  • sparrow

    ‘From a heavily armed group attempting a coup..’
    I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that a few years before the writing of this declaration another heavily armed group in the form of the UVF had to all intents and purposes staged a coup up north. In the decades before that, unionist politicians had done their utmost to successfully block the introduction of Home rule for Ireland, something which most people on the island supported. Important to remember the context of all these things. Given that context, is it surprising that the authors of the declaration set such store by allegiance to the new republic? And let’s look at what ‘allegiance’ actually means. If it means that you are British, and that you would like to see your connection with your fellow countrymen and women in Great Britain valued, protected and somehow formally enshrined in a new state, then fine. I genuinely don’t think many nationalists would have difficulty with that. If however you use the word allegiance to mean that you want British rule to continue in Ireland, then many nationalists – and certainly the authors of the declaration – would take issue with that. But let’s decide this according to democratic principles. Let’s have a referendum to decide the future of the island. I don’t mean a gerrymandered vote in the 6 north eastern counties. Since everyone on the island is affected by partition, let everyone on the island have a vote. If it’s good enough for the Scots and the Brexiteers, it’s good enough for me.

  • LighterSide…

    I look at it more from the demand side of the supply/demand equation.
    Where there is inequality in rights, wealth, status and opportunity, young people will seek to change their situation. If they see no non-violent avenue of change, they will go shopping for a violent ideology.
    There will always be those who are offering a violent ideology. They will only have customers where nothing better is on offer, such as the possibility of a decent job, house, etc.
    Kids in L.A. who join gangs know they are choosing a life that will end in jail or death, but those prospects are not much worse than what they see before them outside of gang life.
    They have little to lose.
    I focus more on erasing societal inequalities than on saving young men from those who would shape them into tools of their own device.

  • Tessa

    I certainly think it will be a calamity and just from an economic point of view, supply chains, electricity interconnectors, issues around smuggling etc and you say we will work it out but how? I am a regular reader of on-line newspapers and the view there from Brexiters on the NI situation I might add, is that NI is an intolerable financial burden, the natives are nutters living in the past, and that England (generally just England) would be well shot of the place.

  • Tessa

    The UK demanded control of the border, now control the border!

  • Tessa

    The EU is on the way out – you mean the one with the strong currency, the one which is outpacing the UK on productivity and GDP, the EU that speaks with one voice … that EU?

  • Tessa

    Please, please do some research, there’s loads of it out there, even the Express and the Sun know about the balance of trade

  • Tessa

    I took my kids to Manchester for half term and the homeless problem was quite frightening, Manchester Piccadilly was full of people out of their heads on spice standing like zombies before falling on their sleeping bags. My small daughter was visibly upset to see people bundled up in duvets and sleeping bags everywhere we went. Inability to house our citizens is a national disgrace

  • Stifler’s Mom

    No. That’s the make believe one spun to sheep that believe what the tv news tells them. I mean the one that has bankrupted southern Europe with the euro. Is draining money from the German tax payer. Is genociding the indigenous people of its western countries. Has surging support to leave it from more and more countries. Wants to take all power from member nations. Has a euro currency that will collapse due to the unsustainability of imposing it on vastly different economies.
    That EU.

  • lizmcneill

    The trend of the negotiations so far doesn’t seem to support this optimistic view, though. And unlike the Assembly there’s not an endlessly elastic deadline.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    is this the wisdom of Paul Dacre, Dirty Desmond and their readers by any chance? Familiar with their brand of knuckle-dragging.

  • Tessa

    Sadly it is the wisdom of the Guardian, Independent and Evening Standard as well, thoogh in fairness given young Osbourne’s comments about what he would like to do to the resident head girl that would be par for the course I expect.

  • Tessa

    I’ll have a swig or smoke of whatever your having lol.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes, the standard of journalism on N Ireland over here from non-specialists is really poor.

    Specialist journalists though can still do some great work. Chris Page’s half-hour Radio 4 docco a few days ago on the DUP-Tory deal was really refreshing in its myth-busting and examination of the realities: iPlayer link here –

    I’m a Guardian reader generally but they’ve often been a bit thick about N Ireland. Reflects a lot of the left over here, just not that interested, and when they do weigh in, they’re all over the shop, with inaccuracies, elisions and blobs of fairytale history they swallowed whole. A great advertisement for devolution, if one were needed.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    early days!

  • MainlandUlsterman

    yup, you need alternatives for them too, or the gang route becomes all the more tempting. It’s not either / or, you need to have a working economy with jobs AND you need to tackle the gang / paramilitary culture and organisations.

    In other places, the struggling young may turn to drugs or anti-social behaviour, but they generally tend not to become dispensers of summary executions or knee-cappings. It’s important to make the violent avenues harder for them to access. Government can do some of that, but ultimately it needs to be families and communities that think about and change where necessary their social norms around violence – this is what makes the biggest difference (I suspect, anyway).

    Unfortunately in NI a lot of young people who got into rioting and sometimes paramilitarism came from families in which that kind of violence was excused and even glorified. They were then meeting their peers who came from the same homes with the same belief systems, reinforcing each other. Hopefully that culture is slowly changing.

  • Hawk

    That’s not how it works, having control over your border does not mean you get to tell other countries what to do, it does not mean there are no rules. What’s with the narrow interpretations?

  • Hawk

    I don’t disagree with any of that. Controlling our borders was predominantly a reference to migration, it could also be applied to the movements of goods into the country. However there are two sides to a border, your side and there’s, and you cannot tell the other party what to do. I thought that would be obvious to some (not referring to you) but apparently not.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Given the fundamental disagreement, it was kind of you both to upvote each other, and kinder still for Kevin to upvote you both.

    There’s no disagreement, for you see they are both right.

    It’s going to be a game of pass the parcel between the Conservative government and the Civil Service.

    Yes Minister brought to life, with all the tragic drama and farce.

  • lizmcneill

    Not really. The Tories have wasted a lot of time. Tick tock, tick tock….