Unionism isn’t ready for a deal anytime soon

Stormont is staring into the political abyss. It already was I hear you say, but over the past week the tone of compromise that gave a faint flicker of hope has all but disappeared.

Unionism has marched right into a cul-de-sac nudged along by the current leader of the Orange Order who has about as much political wit as Jolene Bunting.

Edward Stevenson said that “when language is used as a cultural weapon by political republicanism it clearly becomes a threat to our identity and community”.

And lo and behold within days the DUP’s initial proposal to deal with the Irish language was taken off the table with nothing to replace it. Removed by none other than party elder Sammy Wilson who once referred to Gaelige as a ‘leprechaun language’.

The DUP grassroots have had anti-Irishness drummed into them for so long that for some this now appears as a bigger concession than going into government with republicans a decade ago. Words like ‘weapon’, ‘threat’, ‘impose’ and the painting of a picture to unionists that they will be ‘stripped of their Britishness’ is indicative of the siege mentality that unionist leaders reinforce when it suits them.

The most blatant example of this was when the UUP’s Reg Empty stated that Irish will be a compulsory subject in all schools if an Irish Language Act is introduced. No party, no group, no individual even has ever proposed this in the debate about this Bill. The UUP sensed the degree of pressure on the DUP about the current talks. So to undermine them, well they just decided to make things up!

Unionism is not ready to make a deal. Not now, not anytime soon.

I wish I was wrong but there simply are no signs of optimism from any party. If James Brokenshire had been replaced by Droopy the Dog perhaps the parties would have been more driven to reach a deal. However the limpless Secretary of State has done nothing more than set up the occasional press conference in his front garden.

It appears that the time for a deal has passed. The DUP would rather take their chances on Direct Rule with our 90 MLAs’ constituency services ticking over in the background, similar to the situation we had between 2003 and 2007.

Our MLAs are working hard. Of course they are because constituents are demanding and there is plenty of work to keep them occupied. The case that they ‘do nothing’ is nothing more than a lazy argument.

However If the DUP thought that their constituency offices would be closed and Arlene Foster had to check into the dole office once a fortnight that would make a deal more likely. Remember theres one thing that motivates the DUP more than anything else – money.

Its not going to happen though. The Tory dog isn’t going to bite its DUP tail.

For nationalists and republicans this must also mark the end of the age of constructive ambiguity. The trust that ensured the implementation of agreements in the past is gone. Negotiators will have to dot their i’s and cross their t’s in the future. Timetables for implementation signed off prior.

An Irish language Act would not have been such a big leap for the DUP had they agreed to even small parts of it over the past ten years. They refused to be generous on the issue. What’s worse is that we still haven’t moved on from the days of the Orange Order shouting jump and the Unionist parties replying ‘How high?’

This is their own fault, not anybody else’s. Whenever they deny people rights that are taken for granted in both Britain and the rest of Ireland they really don’t have a leg to stand on. The DUP can either show leadership and come into the the 21st Century or stand their ground with the Orange Order and the knuckedraggers in society.

The last time the DUP had power they disrespected nationalists, republicans, gay members of our society, the Irish language community and many more besides. None of those groups are in a rush to see that party take the position of First Minister again and act that nothing has happened over the past year.

There are 2 scenarios in which Stormont can return. One is that the DUP changes its attitude toward minorities. Two is that the structures at Stormont are changed to prevent further abuses happening towards minorities in the future.

Neither of these are going to happen in 2017.

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  • David Crookes

    Bless ye, Gaz. A’d be afeared to putt thon comeejin Jim Johnson frae Carrickmore intae tha pitcher. Young Jim cud press button B quare an handy, A tell ye.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    mainstream unionism should be accountable for what it says and does. Challenge them on that. The idea of “guilt by association” allows inaccurate attacks on people for things they don;t actually support. “Guilt by association” is a lazy way of effectively just slagging someone off for being from the other community. Not the way to go.

  • David Crookes

    The present debate is about dogs marking the borderlines of their own territory by urination. The said dogs have no real interest in their own languages. If they had, they would learn them properly.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fcf3bcc440312250dd8bb7b15bc3b231e5e9656eb44dbbcdc2a39160c95ff6c2.png It doesn’t go up and down much though. Here’s late 90s up to 2014

    This table is quoted in a recent QUB paper, and is derived from Northern Ireland Loyalty Survey, 1968; Northern Ireland Attitudes survey, 1978;
    Northern Ireland Social Attitudes surveys and Northern Ireland Life and Times surveys:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/75b669d4dd3a985dc551c8a25bc69a274cc45553d05891e2263caf1e230adc4e.png

  • David Crookes

    There is no point in an Irish act or an Ulster Scots act that encourages fiction and untruth.

    If people can actually ‘do things’, three cheers. The most importunate supporters of a particular language should be able both to speak it and to write it.

  • David Crookes

    Accountant, it’s all about territory. That’s why last week the News Letter wheeled out their well-known linguistic expert, The Little Drummer Boy, and put him on the front page.

  • Stifler’s Mom

    Are the chuckies actually blocking continued NI local administration, because they want to spent millions forcing support of a language that no one speaks? Are they completely stupid or something? Why not also have a Klingon Language Act, it would make as much sense.

  • Easóg

    Or as much sense as this senseless post?

  • Skibo

    Here was me thinking this site was for informed debate and not throwing around baseless accusations!

  • David Crookes

    During the Cold War many members of the Soviet intelligence community, having been encouraged to study John Buchan and Arthur Conan Doyle, sincerely believed in the devilish preternatural cleverness of the British.

    More than a few unionist politicians still believe in the devilish preternatural cleverness of SF.

    I don’t.

    The last Westminster election completely gubbed SF.

    At present the only card in SF’s hand is the fact that most of its voters will think and do whatever Sir Gerry Mugabe tells them to think and do.

  • Skibo

    David, as in all areas of government, unless there is legislation to protect the rights of minorities, their rights will be ignored.

  • Skibo

    Very well gubbed with what was an increased mandate.
    I think you will find that Sinn Fein are reacting to the pressure from the grass roots.

  • Skibo

    You do not have to speak Irish to want to preserve it and promote it. That is a bit like saying the only ones who have a right to protect disability rights are the disabled.

  • David Crookes

    That’s why we need a sensible ILA, Skibo. Tokens don’t always have to be tokenistic. A bit of geniality from my side of the fence would go a long way.

  • Skibo

    I quite agree but to come out with a statement that there will be no ILA in her time is hardly acting genially.
    lets get to the page where all accept that there will be a stand alone ILA and then agree what should be in the legislation and a cap on the direct costs of such an act.
    Education costs cannot be lumped into this analysis.
    We can address the support for US also but as an independent act if required.
    To combine the both will result in neither being addressed but such a proposal always had that in mind.

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, Skibo.

    ‘We’ll fight the DUP. But not in Westminster, where it needs a clear run to help the poor Conservatives.’

    An increased mandate has no real gravity until it is taken up.

  • Stifler’s Mom

    LOL, pretty feeble response there mate !

  • David Crookes

    Skibo, I should beware of associating disabled people even tangentially with people who want to preserve or promote a language. Preservers and promoters of a language act by choice.

    Anyway, if you’re genuinely interested in a language, you learn it.

  • David Crookes

    Agreed!

  • Aodh Morrison

    Ok I get it now. I’ve wasted time feeding a troll. That can be the only explanation for anyone posting your latest nonsense. That is other than an unbelievable level of ignorance of local politics.

    Legislation exists for the “production” of an ILA or any other act on any other lawful subject you care to mention. It’s constituted in the Stormont Assembly, the body empowered to bring forward bills on everything and anything from agriculture to zoo management.

    What does not exist is a deal/agreement/accord/high-five for an ILA!

    You’re wilful obtuseness has got tiresome. I’ll leave you to it.

  • Easóg

    How can you ‘force’ support for a language when English is everywhere? And sorry if you speak Klingon (this is made up) but I have yet to notice a groundswell for a KLA. After 500 posts here you write rubbish like that.

  • Croiteir

    And sit there lending credibility to unionism with no influence or power whatsoever – no thanks

  • Skibo

    So you finally accept that the Stormont assembly is the body constituted with the power to bring forward bills in everything under it’s control. That includes Culture arts and leisure and so the ILA.
    Okay we can leave it there. We got there in the end. Annex B is still in writing.

  • Stifler’s Mom

    ‘Force support’ refers to requiring the inevitable translating everything into Irish and maybe requiring the language to be catered for in all government business or whatever people think should be in an ‘Act’. It all costs money and is unnecessary for something that is really a cultural hobby interest.
    What specific things would you like to see in an Irish Language Act? It would be interesting to see what you think is necessary and why?

  • Toye native

    Interesting, am not saying (you) but people with strong socialist views, is how communist”s countries were formed, on the religion side from my point of view, you can’t be a evangelical (conservative) Christian with strong socialist views , you mentioned love wich is true but the bible also talks about (flee) sin have no part with it, socialist could also equal liberalism, sf probably the most Liberal party out there

  • David Crookes

    ‘No influence or power whatsoever’ = abstentionism.

    Once upon a time, an Egyptian president went to the Knesset.

  • Skibo

    There is a massive difference in socialist and communist/ Marxist. I don’t think communism or Marxism can be used to describe the present political analysis that SF hold.
    I believe they are nearly the most liberal, next to the Green party. I often find it interesting the fact that the political analysis of nationalism is so close to that of parties described as Others.
    I believe when partition is finally put to rest, the Unionist mandate will split more evenly into socialist and conservative.
    As for evangelical Christians, please stop mixing up the conservative description of religion and the conservative description of politics. The two do not mean the same thing.

  • Easóg

    I am not going over ground already ploughed. Read the 500 posts for yourself. I could add : no ILA no Stormont if that’s any help.

  • Stifler’s Mom

    If you can’t name a single thing you want in an ILA, then why do you want one? What benefit is it to block local government? Hurts everyone equally.

  • Ciaran74

    All really depends on if there is another political entity to switch en masse to. Nationalism is switching to SF not away from it so the historical ties to the troubles are muted. As are the UUP’s draconianism, and the DUP’s sectarianism.

    Whilst the cool kids in Alliance, Green and PBP might gain a little leakage and strategy voting, their social policies are mirror images of SF/SDLP and the policy changes wanted by 18-44 years olds. Only half the potential unionist voters feel the same.

    That said I’m open to the idea of another way forward for nationalism. But it will be nationalist.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    A dialect of “Scots English” might perhaps be more accurate, or to be more precise, a dialect of English, perhaps?

    You should possibly ask Linda Ervine about just how much Irish language syntax has gone into the syntactical constrictions of how we use English here. The attempt to entirely link Ulster usage with lowland Scots is perhaps an avoidance of something rather more complex which is actually going on……….

  • Easóg

    How many times does it have to be spelled out for you? Have you no ideas of your own?

  • Granni Trixie

    It is likely that some people who join a political party do so on an impulse triggered by altruism. In the context of a violent, divided society for some the appeal is more around empowerment as an antidote to helplessness.

    I appreciate that you refer to a political party but I want to make the point that a party is made up of individuals.

  • Granni Trixie

    I object to you labelling the IRA death squads as “Catholics”. Yes, in practice the IRA draws from one community but many,many Catholics Repudiate the IRA.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think unionism’s travails adjusting to new realities are well accepted and documented; nationalism’s challenges, hidden beneath an awful lot of blether and bluster are equally if not more profound. It will be interesting to see if either tradition can break out of its own self-imposed shackles. I see gradual decline for both and a new centre slowly emerging as a new third leg on the stool.

  • Ciaran74

    Middle ground formation predictions is hardly breaking delpht.

    As for the usual condescension, your play on nationalism is ‘accept NI ad perpetuam and dispense with political dreaming’. I think you’re the dreamer.

    You remind me of that song Spancil Hill.

  • Sub

    Did he swear an oath of allegiance to Israel. Because if not then your point is balls.

  • David Crookes

    It wasn’t a point, Sub, it was an example of intrepidity.

    Austen Currie famously said that he took the oath of allegiance with a smile on his face.

    If Sir Gerry Mugabe can tell us with a straight face that he was never in the IRA, he should be able to take the oath of allegiance with a smile on his face

  • Toye native

    As an evangelical Christian I can tell you from an evangelical point of view, there is a difference between an evangelical Christian and a Christian, an evangelical will be very much conservative in his religious views and very much conservative in his politics views,
    The DUP would fall into two camps Christian and evangelical Christian.
    A lot of roman catholics would be very much conservative and would agree mostly with the views of the unionists parties, you hear it all the time on the radio or news papers, if NI was a normal country they would vote for unionists parties but because of politics they vote for sf or sdlp which is understandable.
    It’s a view from many that sf border on communism or Marxism, well a good part of the party will do.
    You spot on unionism could move into two camps conservative and socialist

  • file

    Hi Granni, it is yer man above being ‘smart’ about the mistranslation of the name Sinn Féin I am addressing here. But Groucho Marx comes to mind as well in your observations: i refuse to join any organisation that would have me as a member.

  • Georgie Best

    What is this “new” centre going to do, keep the sectarian NI entity going?

  • Granni Trixie

    Very insightful of you.

  • Skibo

    In what way would evangelical Christians be politically conservative? Are you equating them to the Pharisees and tax collectors?
    As for if NI was a normal country, there would be no Northern Ireland. It would be one Ireland voting along normal politics

  • file

    Merci! (I have a new policy which presumes people are not being sarcastic unless they tell me they are.)

  • Toye native

    They would be political conservative on moral issues, and very much against liberation.
    Pharisees and tax collectors would be opposite to evangelical.
    If NI was a normal country most people would be proud to call NI home

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I would expect it would keep N Ireland going. I’ll ignore the ridiculous characterisation of the province as innately “sectarian”. It is not – it has sectarians in it, that seems clear …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    quite a good tune – thanks!

  • Skibo

    I could understand the relationship of conservative politics and the evangelical church in USA but here I find it surprising.
    Perhaps I do not fully understand evangelism. Does it veer towards the new testament or the old testament?
    I always took it to be mainly based on the gospels and possibly the agnostic gospels.

  • Toye native

    Evangelical Christian’s believe in the teachings of the whole bible, the main focus is on jesus and he’s the only way into heaven. There is a large section who vote for the dup which is evangelical, many evangelical uup supporters have left and will leave the uup and go to the dup, because of their morale stance they hold too.
    The DUP know this if they upset the evangelical protestant voters, the dup will half overnight.
    Conservative politics and the evangelical Christian’s is very strong hear, if not stronger than America.
    The agnostic gospels is very much false teaching’s, not taught in evangelical churches

  • Skibo

    My thoughts on the teaching of Jesus would not give me an impression that he thought people should be out for themselves. That is what conservatism is all about, you only pay for what you use and detest the idea of benefits.
    As for Agnostic gospels being false teaching, do not be so fast to ignore them. They come from the same time as the other gospels and were not used by Anhanasius in forming the Canon of the 66 books that make up the Bible.
    They have been reviewed a couple of times by others.
    I often wonder if we ever got access to the libraries of the Vatican, would we find the complete works of the Nag Hammadi scriptures.

  • Georgie Best

    Its founders were quite clear, NI was created as an entity for Protestants to have the maximum terrority, it is intrinsically sectarian as is any policy that justifies its continued existence.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Of course it was set up to have a unionist majority. Why would you keep in the UK an area where most people didn’t want to be?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Zap!!!!