Time for imaginative thinking about switching to voluntary coalition?

For good reason, it makes sense to treat the Belfast Agreement as a key historical document. It does not make sense to treat it as an immutable constitution, not least because as we are seeing now, its provisions are so subject to political whimsy.

Daithi argues it is unionists who are not ready, whilst most other parties willingly concede it is Sinn Fein which does not want to re-engage with the institutions of Stormont. Whatever the case the fragility of our peacekeeping democracy is plain.

As Sam McBride noted at the weekend, even parties who share a platform on progressive social issues are coming to the reluctant conclusion that this is an unsustainable state of affairs

…unlikely voices have joined in what is not quite a chorus but is no longer merely a lone singer. A fortnight ago the Green Party leader, Steven Agnew – someone who politically disagrees with Mr Allister on almost everything – said that it seemed that “Sinn Féin has no intention of going back into government” and that as a consequence voluntary coalition needed to be examined.

One of the most eloquent cases for a voluntary coalition comes from Allison Morris’ column last week, in which she more or less asks Sinn Fein and the DUP to stop pretending and get on with constructing a system that can bear political disagreement:

Mandatory coalition was never intended as a long-term form of government, nor was it intended to have two political enemies in power. It was a forced form of rule originally designed with the SDLP and UUP in the two top jobs.

The change in voting patterns will not be reversed any time soon and neither can the fact that the DUP and Sinn Féin are just too different to share power.

They aspire to very different things, they hold polar opposite views.

It is time they were honest and admitted that sharing power with a party you don’t agree with or even respect will never work on a long term basis.

We do need to govern ourselves but it’s time for imaginative thinking about how we do that with voluntary coalition, despite all the associated risks, now seemingly the more desirable option.

The current talks are never going to produce anything other than a sticking plaster and we deserve better than stop start political dodge ball.

It’s time for Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill to come clean and admit mandatory coalition has had its day.

If we are to have real lasting political peace and respect we need a government of people who want to work together, not one where they are forced to.

That would entail a government without Sinn Fein, an idea they’ve fought tooth and nail in the past. But with SF councillors and MLAs candidly admitting that they have no appetite for selling their record in a mandatory coalition, maybe it’s time?

  • Karl

    I don’t like a system that makes a wasteland and calls it peace.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I expect it will be up from that, in response to the shambolic UK handling of Brexit and the NI aspects of it in particular. But I’d imagine a ceiling of high 30s, based on the various brake factors on its growth. Let’s see. Current conditions are very favourable for the UI cause; once a Brexit deal gets sorted and settles in, we can expect the iron to cool quite a bit. If they can’t make progress now, when can they?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Fear of it starting a never-ending series of referenda. Losers have a habit of not accepting the result.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Is it legal now then?
    Or are you saying it no longer exists?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You have better intel?

  • james

    Legal fiction, Easog.

  • Easóg

    Much

  • MainlandUlsterman

    This gives SF a responsibility, doesn’t it, if there is no government without them. They need a very, very, very good reason for holding up government for everyone else. Can you hand on heart say they have one?

    We have been presented with a series of pretexts, not a pressing reason to prevent voters from having a government. There isn’t a good reason they have told us, because they are actually trying to hide their real motivation. It’s being done for SF party interests, not for the good of N Ireland or even Ireland.

  • Brendan Heading

    I shudder to think what the DUP, a party which would be unfit to govern in most normal democracies given its lack of transparency and accountability over the likes of RHI, Red Sky and others too numerous to mention, would get up to without a party in the Executive to keep them honest (if they were ever honest in the first place).

    This is a warped characterisation of things. What you are presenting as a hypothetical did actually happen. SF delivered a government with the DUP for nearly ten years. SF did not “keep them honest”, every time the DUP were caught with their hand in the till SF let them off; every time the DUP acted dishonourably they got a pass.

    Of the top of my head there’s Charter NI. Red Sky, the business with the Giant’s Causeway; the suspicious screwups over property that the Executive ended up selling at a loss because they missed the market. Those are just the issues we know about. Each time, SF provided cover for the DUP to continue what it was doing and prevent any action being taken.

    RHI was a classic. It became known in June 2016. SF did nothing (in fact I seem to recall SF MLAs saying in the Assembly it was a non-issue). When a motion of censure came up in the Assembly, SF abstained. When someone suggested holding an inquiry, SF (initially) refused on the basis that they didn’t like the Inquiries Act. They waited a full six months, until December when Jonathan Bell’s Nolan appearance made it impossible for them to keep hiding, to act.

    I think we should talk about what SF were actually trying to accomplish during the past ten years. Priority #1 was getting money and jobs directed to ex-Provos to keep them sweet and on board. This was the quid pro quo for looking the other way while the DUP did their thing with Red Sky et al. Next they want the right to control the presentation of their history. After that they want tokens to try to fool their electorate into thinking that they’re getting something out of all this. They stretched this approach to breaking point.

    The only reason SF are now out of office is not because of the Irish language; it’s because the DUP got too greedy and pushed just a little too hard. Had they been more careful with Liofa, and one or two other things, Michelle O’Neill would be up there in Stormont today being pushed around by Arlene Foster.

  • Easóg

    Which? Legal or fiction?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I thought the armed struggle did most of the wasteland creation

  • Marcus Orr

    Could you explain which theft was the exact cause of the problems ? Was it perhaps the theft of the land by Celtic tribes from other earlier dwellers and tribes ? Or the theft of the land by the Vikings ? Or the theft of Dalriata (the Kingdom of Western Scotland and East Ulster by Irish tribes ? Or the theft of England and Ireland by the French (Normans) ? Or the plantation in 1607 ? Or the mass murder of huge numbers of the planters in 1642 (men, women, children) by the Irishman Phelim O’Neill (who pledged his loyalty to the English King during the murder spree) ? Please indicate which massacre or murder you’re particularly concerned about, then we can talk more frankly.

    I honestly don’t know about any ancient title to any “land” except the ability to take it and hold it.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    what actual problem does Irish unity solve? It’s a hammer looking for a nail.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    what, De Valera’s?

  • james

    It is what’s known as a ‘legal fiction’.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Perhaps if those earls hadn’t flown …
    But Ulster and Scotland traded populations for centuries before that. You need to really get more relaxed about maritime travel. We live on an archipelago.

  • Karl

    230,000 people from NI emigrated in the halcyon days in the 30 years prior to the Troubles and 185,000 in the 30 years during the Troubles.
    A bit like in the ROI, the political elite looked after their own and encouraged emigration as a social valve. The social cost of breaking up families permanently didnt feature in their arguments.
    In NI is disproportionately affected the community who had less access to education, housing and employment.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Much has been asked of Republicans over the past number of years, and in many, many respects we have not been found wanting”
    But in many, many respects you have. Still no apology for the decades of terrorism for starters … How do you think that plays with those of us who had to put up with it? Republicanism is in no position to ask for anything. It owes Northern Ireland big time.

  • Marcus Orr

    So in that case the British Govt. decided administratively to create the Free State and then cede the 6 counties ?
    That was an administrative decision taken by England, the root of all evil, wasn’t it ?
    Why, if British (foreign rule and administration) in Ireland is the cause of all troubles – as is your narrative – would you ever appeal to a British administrative decision for validation of the idea that the 6 counties seceded !?!!!!!????!!!!!!!!!
    Deary me…

  • sparrow

    That’s so weak. Fear of losing, more like, or fear of an uncomfortably close result. Either way, it’s typical of unionists to think that they have the right to block it.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Varadkar does take that view. In May he called them a threat to his country.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I hope you’re sharing it with the PSNI and the Garda

  • MainlandUlsterman

    not at all – Republicans agreed it was the SoS’s call when a ref should be held, it’s in the GFA.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It was one of the bigger failures of the UUP of that era. That said, no administration on either side of the border has done brilliantly in convincing people to stay. Ireland exports people. Republicans have certainly added their own boot to the arse to many a restless resident.

  • the keep

    You meant unionists I think.

  • the keep

    So people who cant speak the language can see Irish lets be clear this is nothing to do with equality

  • aquifer

    Maybe there needs to be a mathematical construct for sufficient cross-community consensus to avoid these stand-offs. e.g. Any measure passing a total threshold of 40% of either designation plus 40% of ‘others’. If the measure is outrageous the brave crossers of the sectarian lines will be less than 40% soon enough.

  • Brendan Heading

    Not quite. It was a legal fact – but for such a short period of time it had no practical relevance.

  • Karl

    But shows that NIs wasteland was created well before the armed struggle.

  • Sub

    Republicanism owes NI nothing. There are more than republicans who need to apologise not least Unionism for its sectarian running of the statelet which fermented the troubles and their repeated association with loyalist terrorists who conducted a vicious campaign of sectarian murder against the civilian Catholic population. That is what me and many others like me had to put up with, and lost friends and relatives for no other reason than they happened to go to mass on a Sunday. So spare me the holier than thou nonsense.

  • Karl

    It is difficult to understand your sentence without punctuation.

  • Glenn

    Good job the DUP didn’t bring Stormont down, to let the Sinn Fein/IRA do it. When the PSNI started to investigate the Kevin McGuigan murder, when they said the IRA, were involved. And all the while Sinn Fein were telling us that the IRA were gone, no more an old bhoys network. Then we had an inquiry which laid bare the fact that the IRA army council, the same one we were told did not exist was controlling the thinking and policy of Sinn Fein. Not to mention being a good republican tax evader leads to transparency and accountability, not to mention the criminality that left garda officer Adrain Donohoe dead.
    http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/border-car-rammings-linked-to-detective-adrian-donohoe-murder-gang-35324609.html

  • harmlessdrudge

    One of the strangest comments I’ve seen on this site. Has it escaped your attention that

    1. NI is an economic basket case subsidised by the rest of the citizens of the UK, a great many of whom would like to be shot of it and who have very little in common with the likes of the DUP.
    2. The Irish border is so far an intractable problem when it comes to brexit. Unify Ireland and the issues disappear.
    3. The border is unwanted by the majority of the people on this island and represents nothing but a gerrymandered, imperial imposition on country raped and brutalised by the British for centuries.

    Unity would solve all of these problems and more. The stand off between SF and the DUP would come to an end and both would be consigned to the dustbin of history where they belong.

  • Stephen Kelly

    I take it the cough cough is for the DUP/UDA/UVF and i do agree that is sad but don’t be afraid to come right out and say it.

  • Roger

    Regrettably I only have time to be brief.

    Agreed violence of 1920s had questionable justification.
    But those on the Irish side involved had considerable support having even won outright an election. The rights and wrongs can certainly be debated but they did have a lot of backing.
    Those involved in 69-94 never had anything like that.

  • Easóg

    You want a body count?

  • 1729torus

    This is rhetorical legerdemain and tactically motivated goalpost shifting, nothing more.

  • Neil

    Look MU, in negotiations two or more sides come with demands. They negotiate and at some point enough of both sides demands are agreed upon and can be met. Then you have an agreement. leaving aside what Sub said, which is 100% accurate, if Unionism wanted an apology, along with decommissioning, disbanding and support for the PSNI they should have put it in their demands. They didn’t, ergo when it comes to the various agreements you as a lawyer will immediately recognise who apologised to whom is utterly irrelevant. What was asked of us as part of the various agreements has been met. Unionism has decided not to meet any obligation it could get away with. So as 1729torus says, you’re shifting the goalposts.

  • Obelisk

    Can I say hand on heart? Absolutely I can. The Irish Language Act isn’t even really the point any more, it’s about forcing the DUP to acknowledge that the ‘Ulster is British’ slogan is bunk and that devolution isn’t just a method by which one section of the community is catered to and the other section is strung along for the ride. The ILA and marriage equality are now a symbol of how willing the DUP are to acknowledge that Ulster isn’t entirely British and isn’t entirely fundamentalist Protestant.

    The DUP said devolution would be a battle a day, rather than building any shared future. And they won nearly every battle. And they made sure everyone knew it. They gloried in it. Gloried in it till Nationalists like myself finally had enough and demanded Sinn Fein pull the plug on the whole thing.

    And now you want us to go back for more of the same without any concessions from the DUP at all on agreements previously made where we delivered our end and then they welched?

  • Neil

    The DUP demanded decommissioning, disbanding of the IRA and unequivocal support for the police. They got these things and more (i.e. McG toadying to the queen). We met the requirements as laid down by Unionism. And you seem very dismissive of what was delivered when you know that all three of the items on their list were extremely difficult to deliver, and delivered at personal and political cost to the people involved. Some people in WB still hate SF for backing the PSNI. Much was asked for. Much was delivered. McG’s actions went further than necessary, the cherry on top for our Unionism neighbours. Unionism can’t even deliver those things that are already agreed.

  • Easóg

    I am not appealing to the British govt for anything. Just thought James might be interested.

  • Skibo

    Rodger, I was not professing the rights or wrongs of the violence in the 1920s. I just recognise the violence that happened at that time was of the same intensity as that of the Troubles.
    I believe the violence from 69-94 spawned out of the issues raised by the civil rights movement and then morphed into an armed struggle for reunification with some people believing that as partition was at the root of the sectarian strife, then only with the end of partition would the sectarian strife end.

  • Skibo

    Can you tell me the difference in what SF is asking for and what SDLP are asking for?

  • Barneyt

    I think that day in 22 was a pivot device to accommodate possible unification or head towards the path that has led us to where we are today. As far as I am aware there have been several periods over the years where the England did considered “letting” the Island go.

  • Barneyt

    Clearly you are well versed in your history and I have no reason to doubt that. We know that Ireland has its own history and its as inglorious as that of many feudal based countries if you like. I would never hold Ireland up as a beacon of equality post brehon). There are many documented attrocities and you can argue their merits or not as you see fit.

    The fact remains that for many decades there has been a lack of self determination. We can dig into the depths of history of course, but surely you can regard Ireland from the 17th centurary onwards and understand why many have regarded it as a colony and under the rule of a foreign master. They lifted many fron the lands and sold them into slavery. Hmmmnn. I think the british regarded it as a brick in the colonial wall and many suggested that if they let this bit go (leave the colony and its commonwealth hallmark) the rest will follow.

    It (is) was a colony by any other name. For me its not the colonial state that matters but the conduct of their rulers. I’m sure you know the history of the last famine and how in time this may officially be regarded as genocide. You may disagree.

    Looks to this part of history alone and then argue Ireland was not seen as another part of the world that could furnish the British Empire. And for balance, they are no less or more colonial than the French, Dutch, Spanish etc..

  • Barneyt

    That question might frustrate many however I think it is worth asking. The picture needs to be painted as its easier in my view to envisage an independent Ireland (leave the UK) than to outline how the UK is going to look on leaving the EU. I say leaving the EU, but I think this is increasingly unlikely now.

    One picture might show a 32 county Ireland that intends to repeat a 1960s Northern Ireland in reverse, with the protestant minority being hounded. I dont believe that will happen, but if someone alludes to this and justifies it under revenge, then no thanks.

    We need as many views of a possible Ireland, from all sectors of the community, from free Irish Socialise Republic to a United Ireland under British rule. I think that covers the two worst case scenarious for each community respectively so the answer should like between those two extremes.

    A fair point. Lets get it on the table as we know NI is just not working and I dont believe it ever will unless it frees from Westminster and either stands alone or joins its long lost brother. As you I hope are aware.

    My view is it will only come about as we get the demographic shift. Feels like a non progressive method to me.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Thoughtful response, thanks.

    You’ll be aware though that the refrain “Northern Ireland just isn’t working” often comes across as a little disingenuous. The retort “like you ever wanted it to” is an obvious one.

    It does feel at times like nationalism is like a person who walks past your house and throws a stone through the window; then passing it again later, points at how crap the house is because it’s got a broken window – who would live there? The irony is, they live there – we’re in a house-share together.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m not a lawyer.
    I’m just pointing out some self-awareness is due from Republicans. SF is not trusted and has no credibility with the P/U/L community, for obvious reasons. It is an extremely poor vehicle for advancing nationalist interests in situations where goodwill from the P/U/L community is needed. Can people not see that? Or do they just see it annoying unionists and think, ‘Great, I hate unionists’? Don’t answer that, I think it’s sadly close to the truth.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    are you saying Republicans enter negotiations without baggage that hampers the negotiations?

    When a party make a list of demands as SF has, then turns this wish list into an ultimatum to other parties – agree or get no politics – do you not see the problem? I don’t see other parties doing that.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes it has

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you can hold onto those old sectarian attitudes if you like. But do step aside please and let others get on with making Northern Ireland a better place.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    in terms of population loss certainly

    The devastation, physical and psychic, of the “armed struggle” years is a different kind of devastation, both sharper and more profound. People move away, that’s life. Getting a bullet in the head isn’t.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    No, anyone. He was saying the only “sensible ones” (referring to the inhabitants of NI) are the ones that have left. That is, there are no sensible inhabitants of N Ireland.

  • MainlandUlsterman
  • Karl

    You should try growing up in a country where you know you cant get a job, where, when your children inevitably move away that you are unlikely to see them again and that the very existence of the state is to deny you and your ‘sort’ equal opportunities. Where you are viewed as 5th columnists and likely saboteurs. That you follow the teachings of the anti christ and that you are sub human.
    Then you will see the outcomes of the physical and pyschological manifestation of the state apparatus destroying people. But I suppose that doesnt count for you.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Hyperbole? A bit?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Republicanism owes NI nothing”
    The attitude at the heart of Northern Ireland’s problems just now.

  • Karl

    To you? Undoubtedly. Not to anyone who had to live through it. But in the main, nationalists kept their heads down and accepted having to send their children abroad. You make light of it if you wish and pretend it was just as bad for everyone else.
    It was still within living memory that everyone irrespective of religion had to pay a tithe to the Church of Ireland.

  • 1729torus

    The question at hand was whether or not Republicans had made unreciprocated gestures/actions. Whether or not Republicans have baggage is arguably immaterial even when you forget that all parties involved have blood on their hands.

    SF’s ultimatums are partially an exercise in reminding Unionist lawyers like yourself or the barristers in the DUP that political disputes can also be settled by various forms of coercion instead of bogging your opponents down in sophistry or bad faith negotiations. The less effort at persuasion expended for a given degree of progress and the more the DUP are forced to support actions they don’t like, the better in the long run.

  • Sub
  • Sub

    Sectarian? Pointing out Unionist hypocrisy in relation to head in the sand denial to historical facts really.

  • Barneyt

    any self respecting nationalist ought to regard it all as Irish and all worth looking after. Sorry about your house btw 🙂

  • Tochais Siorai

    UK + devotion is becoming increasingly irrelevant. A binary choice – UK or a clearly defined UI with a 10 year lead in? I reckon UI would get around 40% at the minute.

    But only one way to find out, I suppose.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Sounds like wishful thinking and even that’s well short. Weren’t you supposed to be well past 50 per cent by 2016? Someone’s missing quite a lot in the data. No prizes as to why.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    it’s not exactly bringing people together is it

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Once again, I’m not a lawyer.

    Republicans have been no more accommodating in government than the DUP have. They have an insufficiently popular agenda which they keep trying to push, then cry foul when they meet opposition. In a democracy it’s not always a Great Wrong when people have a different opinion from you. Some would say that’s what democracy is for.

  • Sub

    Yeah, Im sure if i stop highlighting Unionist hypocrisy everything would be rosy. Why didnt I think of that before.

  • eamoncorbett

    Didnt Trimble make decommissioning a pre condition, remember the phrase ” over to you Mr Adams “.

  • Nap McCourt

    I totally agree. We’ve had single party rule, direct rule and power sharing. Everything has been tried except united Ireland. Surely it’s worth a try🤔

  • Accountant

    Neil, you have to be kidding! Putting down the means of murder and supporting a (reformed) police force aren’t “gives”. They are just basic humanity.

    But surely everyone on this thread has lost any sense of responsibility, in continuing to hark back to the wrongs of the past.

    How does kicking SF out of mandatory coalition disenfranchise nationalism ? If SF still has its Stormont seats, there is no Unionist majority. We still also have equality legislation.

    Get out the way, SF, so we can get on with it.

    (Same goes for DUP – scrap the PoC as it encourages them to grind the house to a halt).

  • Accountant

    How did you persuade yourself of this position when DUP has said it will return to government unconditionally in the morning ?

  • Accountant

    Is it not still just going to be about the Irish language in a year once RHI is over (and NI Brexit has been decided by Brokenshire and the £1bn for schools, hospitals and roads clawed back by Westminster) ?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    exactly – and Adams chose to let him down. That was the end of any hope of SF genuinely seeking partnership with unionists.

  • Accountant

    Then fix it.

  • aquifer

    “Still no apology for the decades of terrorism for starters”

    Why would they when the DUP’s actions can eventually make it look like a legitimate response to selfish intransigence?

    Paisley and the Provos were a double act, like two bloodied drunks staggering down the street together, providing mutual support. Sworn enemies or friends for life? From a distance it is so hard to tell.

  • Accountant

    And if the unionists lost it 51%:49% in the face of Brexshit, could they re-run the poll 3 years later when it becomes clear that Ulstermen (and women) were still second class citizens in your glorious new world ?

  • Obelisk

    If it has to be. I’ve lost faith in powersharing, one side treated it as a zero sum game for the better part of a decade and abused all our efforts at compromise and negotiation to ensure everyone knew who was the winner and who was the loser. I see no advantage in bringing it back when the DUP clearly haven’t learned the lesson yet.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Nah, wishful thinking would be a YES vote. Hate to disappoint you and all that but it could be the next generation who see it rather than us. But you never know! I know you like your polls but I’d be more of a follow the money type of chap – I’d put the 10/11 either way around 38.5 right now. (give it another year of Brexit etc, probably add another couple of % points). Yourself?

    As for ‘Weren’t you supposed to be well past 50 per cent by 2016?’ Honestly MU, I’d expect a bit better from you than that. Do try to get beyond the premise that many of us who aspire to get rid of the border take our cue from SF.

  • sparrow

    What makes you think Ulster people will be second class citizens in any UI set up? We’ll make up a sizeable chunk of any elected body, certainly enough to make sure we’re not overlooked.

  • Accountant

    Because I’ve never seen the assurances that NI/Ulster can keep its football team, its Orange marches and its “capital city” status for Belfast.

    Can Ireland be trusted with this level of devolution ? At least UK has a tried and tested capability (not perfect, but mainly our own fault for f***ing it up).

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It’s just that the latest round of “unity is just around the corner, just you watch” – not necessarily from you, from others – needs to be put in context. Nationalists of a certain level of zeal have long indulged in wishful thinking about things swinging their way imminently – “we must prepare” etc etc. It is wearisome but worse it makes the present a hostage to one side’s dream of the future. That must be wrong.

    I think 38.5 sounds achievable in the current climate. It might nudge 40 but then I would expect it to recede to low 30s again once Brexit goes through, and people realise the sky hasn’t fallen in. I do think Brexit brings a long term uplift in support for Irish unity – supporting it was daft of the DUP, a complete own goal – just not enough to close the massive gap it has to close.

  • sparrow

    Have those assurances ever been asked for? Probably not, given that unionists as a group generally refuse to take part in any debate around the issue of a unified Ireland. Orange marches are unlikely to be an issue, since they don’t seem to be a problem in Donegal. If we were looking at some sort of federal arrangements, then Belfast would undoubtedly be a state capital like you find in the US, India, Germany, etc. I personally wouldn’t be in favour of separate football teams – too divisive, IMO, – but I’d certainly be in favour of rotating home matches between Belfast and Dublin. If ever we get to that point, we’ll have a new flag and a new anthem, so there shouldn’t be any contention around symbols.

  • Roger

    Obviously I was pointing to the absence of popular support for terrorism during the 25 year period versus widespread support for it in the early 20s. Justification was the topic.

  • Skibo

    Rodger, I would even question the widespread support for violence in the 1920s. Yes to general support for independence. When fighting a guerrilla operation, you do not need a full buy-in. Remember the issue of the disappeared during the troubles, is is believed the figure during the war of independence and the civil war, the total of disappeared was nearer 200.

  • Roger

    Widespread support
    What % of island wide vote did SF get in the 70s or 80s v what they got in 1919 or 21?
    ‘Widespread’ may be a little vague. But contrast in popular support for a party that backed terrorism isn’t.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Context, Marcus, context. In the 1640s and early 1650s during the Confederate wars, it is estimated that a third of the population of Ireland were killed, at least 300,000, possibly 600,000 in what can only be described as genocide. Tens of thousands were murdered by rampaging soldiers under orders to do so and even more as a result of a scorched earth policy by our friends across the water. The numbers of planters who lost their lives, and remember most were relative newcomers living on land recently stolen from the natives was 2%, maybe 3% of this.

  • Skibo

    Rodger, I am going back a bit but as far as I remember SF were an abstentionist party up to the time that the Hunger strikers stood for election. Sometimes we forget that Bobby Sands was not the only elected Republican hunger striker. Two were elected TDs as well and a number of others were well supported also.