Nesbitt ” We must learn to resist the agitation of those who simply view equality as a tool to impose their ideology and take ownership of the values that will secure a fair future for all.”

Mike Nesbitt is the former leader of the UUP and is the current MLA for Strangford

How do you think you would react if you heard that a unionist leader – Robin Swann, or Arlene Foster, for example – was refusing to deal with the NHS waiting lists, or the funding crisis in our schools, unless everyone else agreed to an Ulster Scots Act? I know what my response would be and it wouldn’t be pretty.

Yet that’s what Sinn Féin are doing with their call for a stand-alone Irish Language Act. At a time when the people of Northern Ireland are craving political stability, enter Gerry Adams, the King of Chaos, the self-styled specialist in “agitational activities” – not my words, but his from his 1986 book The Politics of Irish Freedom.

For Gerry Adams, agitation means that issues are not issues for their own sake, but instruments to use like sticks to beat your opponent with. The Irish Language is but the latest in a long list. For example, in 1997 he talked of “scene changes that we have to focus on and develop and exploit”.  Sinn Féin thrive on being opportunistic, always seeking to exploit a situation with the aim of furthering the Republican cause.  

Almost three years ago Gerry Adams made one of the most telling comments about the current republican strategy.  It came during a party meeting in Enniskillen that ended in much public derision for the Sinn Féin President after he swore during the rant.  

But most worthy of attention was his claim that “the Trojan horse of the entire republican strategy is to reach out to people on the basis of equality.”

The original Trojan horse, of course, was a weapon of war dressed up as a gift and embraced by an unsuspecting enemy to their ultimate ruin.

At the time, his remarks were brushed off by Sinn Féin representatives as simply being a demonstration of the Republican commitment to equality. However, given Adams’ history, it would be foolish not to view it as another candid moment, just like his boast that protests against loyal order parades didn’t just happen but were the product of years of planning for agitation – bonfires are clearly next on the list.

Over the last eighteen months Sinn Fein rhetoric around “equality” and a “rights based approach” has gone into overdrive.  At the same time, a parallel campaign has stepped up as Sinn Fein increasingly try to pit “unionism” against everyone else.

This is not only self-serving manipulation but also a total perversion of societal attitudes in Northern Ireland. The attempt to style themselves as the defenders of minority rights is a shallow attempt to cover up for their stuttering political project.  Issues around rights and equality are increasingly being used by Sinn Féin as no more than proxy wars against unionism.

Their abject failure up to now to convince the wider population of the benefits of a united Ireland means Adams must continue to agitate, thus denying the majority from both traditions the stability they crave in the political landscape. That broader society in Northern Ireland can see the contradiction of a party preaching rights on one hand while attending commemorations for a terrorist organisation that was responsible for gross human rights abuses against the population of this country for decades.  

There are uncomfortable truths for Irish Republicans who demand the implementation of previous agreements, because those agreements were clear in separating identity from sovereignty. Yet Sinn Féin deliberately confuse and conflate the two, hence Michelle O’Neill’s false statement in Manchester last week that Northern Ireland isn’t British. It is! It’s Michelle who isn’t British and unionists accepted her right to define her own identity in 1998, just as she signed up to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. But of course, Sinn Féin cannot even bring themselves to call the country by its proper name, an act of deep disrespect.

It goes much deeper than that. Sinn Féin want an Irish Language Act, pointing to existing language acts in Wales and Scotland and accusing unionists of double standards. Unionists must point out that nationalists in Wales and Scotland can still offer the respect of taking their seats in Parliament while arguing for an end to Westminster’s influence on their country – and all the rest. Sinn Féin’s policy is firmly in line with Boris Johnston’s “have cake, eat cake” remarks about Brexit.        

There is, however, a challenge for unionism in how to respond to this.   For me it is clear that we must demand and defend equality and the protection of human rights for both ourselves and others, not as a means to an end, but because it is the right thing to do. The issue must be the issue, not an implement for agitation.

The future of Northern Ireland will depend on us being a fair and equal society that offers respect for all citizens.  I know that unionists can offer this.

Republicans often take a stance in a hope of provoking a knee-jerk reaction from unionism. Sadly, history shows they have a more than even chance of getting one. We must learn to resist the agitation of those who simply view equality as a tool to impose their ideology and take ownership of the values that will secure a fair future for all. 

 

  • jaded

    you mean during partition? They began campaigning for partition in Westminster and set up a paramilitary militia-The UVF from 1912.
    They eventually got their wish, after Britain ignored the 1918 election, and the overwhelming wishes of the Irish people. Sinn Fein won around 75 of a 100 odd seats, yet they capitulated to the unionists.
    So to answer your question, everything was imposed by them, so no doubt the Name was too.

  • jaded

    Exactly, it’s a
    hotch potch,mish-mash bastardised dialect, that sounds like over exaggerated, Scottish slang. It’s a recent construct, artificial, and quite frankly, sounds quite ridiculous. Thus, I’ve never heard it once in daily life, only on some corny BBC show.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    But it didn’t appropriate all cultural space to itself.

    There was pretty much zero attempt, nor should there have been, to influence Irish culture within nationalist areas.

    The story in the public square (as it were) is I think more nuanced. Firstly it must be acknowledged there was no shared public square really, politically, in the pre-1972 era – the character of the province was shaped by the majority population. The minority population, with no hope of real political power in a Westminster-style parliamentary system at Stormont, felt excluded – and were excluded, partly by unionists, partly by themselves and partly by the lack of a mechanism through which those nationalists who did want to play a political role in the province could do so.

    Nationalist refusal to accept, for many decades, the legitimacy of N Ireland, meant unionists did not trust nationalists with the keys. Unionists these days live in a different setting, where majority rule is long gone – unionists haven’t had the keys to share in the living memory of most unionists. There is no movement to get them back – which is as it should be, but is under-appreciated by the way. People portray unionists as inflexible and ask what unionism has done to change. But unionism has transformed in my lifetime from a movement based on majority rule to one based on N Ireland as a shared space (even while there is still a large pro-Union majority). The GFA has provided a framework through which in theory unionists can trust nationalists – and actually do, in many cases.

    I suspect many unionists are happy enough to live with more nationalist symbolism and a certain amount of greening in some public places. But there is still sensitivity about nationalism’s ambitions with the new shared cultural space. Where SF is involved, people feel threatened, because we know SF regards culture as politics by other means. It has so often used social and cultural causes, and indeed its choice of progressive causes, as a Trojan horse to attack unionists and diminish the sense of a British feel to N Ireland. It believes in its causes too of course – but it also has a weather eye in its choice of issues as to what is going to wrongfoot unionists and bring about unionist own goals. It’s not a strategy of friendship and co-operation, but of aggression. It seeks victory rather than mutual respect. This wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing stuff means its calls for greater respect for Irish culture are heard very differently in the two communities. One sees only the sheep; the other sees the wolf.

    Unionists know that SF’s No1 dream and ambition is to destroy unionism. What I think nationalists watching on don’t always grasp is the imbalance in the dynamic, in nationalists’ favour: because unionists have no such ambition towards nationalist politics or people. They accept nationalists have their identity and their desire for an eventual united Ireland. Unionists are defensive about nationalist encroachment, or “greening”; but they are not on the attack. Unionists are not trying to “red, white and blue” the public space. I mischievously suggested the other week that if Irish is to go on road signs, perhaps a quid pro quo would be a British symbol like a crown to also appear on them. The unthinkability of that – and the fact that unionists are not in fact seriously calling for such things – shows you, I think, the good side of unionism as a defensive movement. It means it’s not attacking.

    Nationalists I think tend to have a deeply self-confident sense of their own eventual triumph, that things are moving in their direction. But imagine how it feels to be the people on the other side of that equation. The nationalist tendency to believe in “historical inevitability” is a delusion by the way – but one that nevertheless produces the mood music to which our negotiation of ethno-cultural balance dances.

    That was all very waffly, but the point is when looking at unionist concerns over the Irish language issue, it is important to understand how unionists experience cultural pressure and cultural attacks from nationalism. Be a little reflective of the often dismissive and denigrating terms in which nationalist discourse has dealt with unionist culture and identity. Then realise why when a party like SF pushes an expansive Irish language agenda, many unionists do not feel obliged to be sympathetic. It’s not to do with Irish – it’s to do with the parity of esteem that has not been genuinely given to the unionist tradition by large parts of the nationalist commentariat for a long time. These are cultural chickens coming home to roost for political nationalism. I am sorry that Gaelic is caught up in the middle of it. It really isn’t the language’s fault.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    fantastic

  • MainlandUlsterman

    the role of the Poles in the RAF is well understood and appreciated these days, in reality. I used to drive past the Polish War Memorial every day on the Western fringes of London, it is a big landmark for that NW end of the city.

  • Skibo

    Historical fact! I posted a news report based on government papers released at the time but you just ignored it.
    Jealous of John Hume?
    As for the Irish Ambassador, should it not be the job of the Taioseach and not for anyone else?
    SF did oppose the Lisbon treaty and the people agreed with them the first time. This achieved certain advantages for Ireland that they would not have had otherwise.
    I believe SF policy for Ireland and the EU is to be in but have a reformed EU, similar to what Corbyn suggests.
    I have no doubt that you are fully aware of what my final point was about. At present there is further talks of an SDLP FF merger but I believe that the SDLP would have more in common with FG.

  • Barneyt

    It takes an outsider to view this ILA properly and from a neutral position. Essentially this act will protect an ancient language, that despite efforts to decimate, still survives. I regard it as a mistake to pitch it as a preservation of culture. That just attracts the sort of intolerant ugliness we see in this post. It allows unionism to ironically use it as a stick to beat republicanism.

    If you do not support the ILA, largely I would say you cannot support the preservation of any language on our isles or in distant parts of the world.

  • Skibo

    You had me feeling sorry for Unionism being so oppressed by Nationalism and not having enough of their symbolism throughout the whole of Northern Ireland and then I woke up.
    Northern Ireland is emblazoned with Union Flags and in certain areas paramilitary flags. Do they make Northern Ireland any more British?
    Is there really any reason for flagpoles on road junctions other than to rub it in the noses of your neighbours.
    As for having Irish on road signs, perhaps we could balance it out with putting English on it too. Hold on, nobody is talking about removing English!
    If you think that Unionism has not been the controlling factor in the governing of Northern Ireland, could you point me to anything they have done during the Executive to show they accept and respect the position of Irish Nationalism within Northern Ireland.
    Every time an issue of simple equality has been raised which could be seen as a sop to Nationalists and Republicans, the Union Flag has been hoisted and the Unionists close the gates and hoist the drawbridge.
    Each and every time this has happened, Unionism has had to accept change and every time their politicians do not learn to prepare their electorate for change.
    At some stage Unionism is going to learn that accommodation is better than confrontation.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    it is possible though to support the language, without necessarily supporting a particular form of legislation for it? Quite apart from the fact we don’t know what actually would be in this ILA.

    It is a strange debate really we are having, not about the substance of what Irish language legislation we need, but about some abstract idea of having Irish language legislation. I can readily agree to having some Irish language legislation, in part because I’m not actually committing to giving it a lot more prominence than it currently gets. We actually need to get into the arguments of what Irish needs and how best legislation can support that. And as with any law, we need to close off the possibility of any unintended consequences.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you don’t think SF have been confrontational here? They seem to be the ones sitting out with the red lines just now. It hasn’t always been so, but it is right now.

    I am for all paramilitary flags and murals being taken down across N Ireland. There is no place for any of them. This needs to be done by both communities.

    English and Gaelic cannot be simply mapped onto the communities, as if English is the language of the PUL community and Gaelic the language of the CNR community. English is the language we all speak – and ardent nationalist writers and poets write and wrote primarily in English. English on a road sign is not a concession to unionists.

    As for the Union flag on public buildings in NI, I don’t think there’s any need to overdo it, but it is the national flag in the UK. NI’s membership of the UK is a constitutional fact – indeed this was agreed by all shades of nationalism in the GFA – and official flags reflect that. We did not vote for joint authority and do not have it. This does create a necessary inequality in public flag-flying.

    What I think would help a lot is to develop a new Northern Ireland flag that could be flown a lot more, with the union flag still there but perhaps less in your face than before. I quite like this:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/32bd93e80dce402cf70a008c32bee5574fabbda09ed022c8e3e911c52d9b690c.png

  • Georgie Best

    Of course the M1 does cross the Bann to reach Dungannon. There have been other welcome road projects in recent years, but these fall short of motorway status. This represents a second class option and compares unfavourably with the likes of the 70Km of motorway opened recently in Co Galway.

  • Claire Mitchell

    That’s a very good way to put it. It doesn’t bode well that really no shade of unionist currently has ears to hear this. They’re insisting on dressing it up as a neutral issue, based on cost, the higher priority of healthcare etc. But yes, at this point it really feels like the root is a lack of ability to even understand how they have dominated, never mind a willingness to change this behaviour. I also find it really interesting how far Alliance/Green/PBP voters are coalescing around an ILA. This is clearly not a pan-nationalist front/radical republican agenda. Just a multi-layered broad coalition of non-unionists, who understand the problem as one of unionism’s brittle fear and intransigence.

  • Glenn

    That’s me told off. Glenn doffs cap and I have now learned my lesson, and I will not challenge the obvious moral and cultural superiority of Sinn Fein or Irish republican alike again.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hey, Glenn, I’m a notorious neo-Jacobite, an almost unique Irish Royalist awaiting the return of King Francis II to Dublin Castle when Ireland and Alba waken up and invite him back from his families long exile. Please do not confuse me with any Republican agenda. In the meanwhile I’m happy enough to criticise everyone from whatever political camp when they open themselves to such, and I always took a sardonic delight in following “Nelson’s View” with its many historical inaccuracies and sometimes rather oddly sourced assertions. Some of my older family used to be acquainted with Isabel Hill Elder, so the beliefs of The British Israel world Federation and its ideas are not entirely unknown to me. Not something to inspire confidence, as I’ve already pointed out.

  • Backbencher

    The point is

    SF/IRA see the ILA as an extension to their campaign for a United Ireland. They want to rid Northern Ireland of Britishness and replace it with Irishness.

    Previously they sought to coerce Unionists to abandon their Britishness and embrace an Irish identity via the bomb and the bullet.

    Now they seek to use the ILA as a means (not the only one) to the same end i.e. enforce Irishness on those that have no desire for it.

    And before you ask – I am more than happy for those that want to learn and speak Irish to do so (although I am uncomfortable with the fact it is reported to cost £170million per year)

  • Obelisk

    Something else that can’t be mapped onto communities is a shared flag. It’s the vanity project of letsgetalongerists who seem to think invented symbols is all that is required to bring us together.

    I advise recognizing reality on this point that each community holds to their respective flags.

    You know, the ones that actually mean something?

  • Obelisk

    This spiel is self-pitying nonsense. Unionism tore our country apart and discriminated against the Irish minority they had shanghaied into their new state to sustain it for as long as they could get away with it.

    Unionism is owed NOTHING by us.

    As for our cultural ambitions being difficult to swallow because of our constitutional goals,Unionism has to make their peace with that, not us. Our end goal is and will always remain the end of the union and the emergence of a reunited Irish Republic. I make no apologies for that.

    As we wait for that day, the North should be more reflective of the people who actually live here rather than just the people who demanded it’s creation.

    And that means a much stronger Irish component in the makeup of this state’s DNA.

    You asked me to look at it from Unionism’s point of view and if I try, I guess it’s a catch 22 for Unionism. Accede to Nationalist demands for inclusivity and lose the very essence of the Union they are fighting for. I am not sure if you’ve noticed, but Unionist politicians are amongst the most reactionary on these islands. They don’t fight for the Union as you see it, a pluralistic and multicultural melting pot. They fight for a Union that exalts them and only them over the Gaelic hordes at their gates, as they have for centuries. They have much to fear on that count I guess.

    After all, the more Nationalism progresses in our demands for equality, the more like the South the North should become (well except for the part of having a functional, viable economy that enriches the population).

    Fight us, the more the case is made that the North is the hostile ghetto state we always accuse it of being and help ease the path for a narrow demographic based victory in a border poll within the coming decades. Not the best win, but a win is a win.

    Both paths are, of course, replete with opportunities for moving the course of reunification ahead.And you wonder where our self confidence comes from.

    It’s from taking the long view.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Still you can’t answer the question.

    How will an Irish language act move forward a United Ireland one iota?

    You (and perhaps only you) clearly believe it will. So why not share your thinking with the group.

  • Mark Petticrew

    Yeah, I have to give credit to Naomi Long as Alliance Party leader on this front. From using Irish language signage in the party’s election literature this year to signing up to an Irish Language Act, she and her party have shown leadership on this issue.

    As someone who hails from the ‘green tribe’ so to speak, I can honestly say I appreciate it; particularly given the fact that Alliance’s chief electoral backgrounds are generally found in what are broadly considered to be unionist areas.

    I’ve no doubt, for instance, that their party canvassers have been given a dose of the hair dryer treatment on the doors from some in such quarters for dipping their party’s toe so publicly in the green pond; and so, it’s a fair play from me. I’d equally apply such praise to Steven Agnew and the Green Party.

  • Stephen Kelly

    Your kind of bitter towards Sinn Feinn who are the biggest nationalist party. I wish for your own peace of mind you could accept that the SDLP has had its day and bits of it were all right but not great and that’s why its nearly defunct.

  • Skibo

    Irish will not be mapped onto any communities. It is part of all communities whether they accept it or not.
    I cannot see the issue with having Irish on road signs along with English.
    The simple issue on recognition of symbols and equality and parity of esteem is there should be a sharing out of symbols or a removal of all symbols. Unionism will not accept sharing so neutral has to be the norm.
    You didn’t seem to notice, I didn’t mention flags on public buildings. I mentioned flags on flagpoles at road junctions. Usually linked to a nearby Church or meeting house or Loyal lodges. Are they really necessary to tell you that Northern Ireland comes under British jurisdiction? If not then is it just an issue of rubbing your neighbour’s nose in it?
    As Obelisk says there will be no agreed flag for Northern Ireland. That would be an issue of just how much a British symbol you feel you can get away with and put in some green to keep the papishes happy

  • Stephen Kelly

    Adams Adams Adams Sinn Feinn SinnFeinn, no mention of the DUP/UDA. I unfortunately came across the workings of the SDLP through Hanna Dr MC Donnell and Declan Boyle owner of a large part of the holyland. Our association was approached for help to try and get help from the sdlp the poor people thought because our association was in a kind of upmarket area we might know people but we had our own experiences with the sdlp over planning and told them they had no chance and that the SDLP would be as useful as a chocolate teapot. The SDLP always brings into my mind a picture of Fagin in Oliver poring over his wee chest of goodies.

  • Stephen Kelly

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

  • Stephen Kelly

    LOLOL

  • Stephen Kelly

    Unionists are hard wired to say never, not on my watch, no way nothing doing, go away hundreds of thousands of nationalists. Nobody likes us and we don,t care so there, its our playground we nicked it nearly a hundred years ago and just because your numbers are nearly up to ours now we don’t care you can just wait until you outnumber us .Or until direct rule gives it to the community.

  • Stephen Kelly

    No moving on with you is there .Remind me about the slaughter the rapes the be-headings the concentration camps the hangings the castrations in Kenya and that is quite recent in historical terms some of the poor people are still alive and suing the British government. That is just one example. Unfortunately for the people of the middle east i could go on. Don’t think any British person can point the finger at anyone what happened in Kenya with wee Tommy the British soldier is right up there with ISIS in my opinion.

  • Stephen Kelly

    I have just removed a post in reply to backbencher after i realized he was just a troll in my opinion.

  • Stephen Kelly

    Thank god you don’t consider yourself naive just us hundreds of thousands of ejits. Now go start a party a smart guy clued in like you will attract us all,

  • Stephen Kelly

    The Orange Order impose themselves on my wee community every fekkin year and i will be honest i do not want them they leave a trail of poop and debris it is disgusting .I wish they would all go to nutts corner and build bleachers and toilets and burger vans and fly uvf flags and run around with toy guns it would be great for everyone I would gladly contribute to a one of tax to help pay for it gladly.

  • Stephen Kelly

    i know hundreds of thousands who will be bothered and we all vote for wait for it Sinn Feinn.

  • Stephen Kelly

    Whats the winning numbers of the lottery you seem to know everything.

  • Stephen Kelly

    We will have i can assure you but i think it will be the British who will play fair along with the marriage act and the abortion act.

  • Stephen Kelly

    Man that’s deep.

  • Stephen Kelly

    LOLOLOLOL

  • Stephen Kelly

    You have got mixed up it is the unionists led by the DUP/UVF who want to be a separate people with us nationalists ground under. But the British tore down Storment and ended that but the unionists do now want to accept that, so the British will once again take down Storment and do right by us again.

  • Stephen Kelly

    AHH got ya LOLOL poor old Mike his time has past and he made no impression except on the carpet of the Storment hotel.

  • Stephen Kelly

    You were warned by Robinson that it would be a battle a day and Campbell Arlene and all agree.

  • The Irishman

    Well said Obelisk

  • Stephen Kelly

    Hope you don’t mind i copy pasted that into my slugger word doc i like to show nice nippy little truisms like that at the weekly get together.

  • The Irishman

    Excellent post Obelisk

  • Stephen Kelly

    Yes i wonder will they let the poor castrated Kenyans parade. To name just one of tommies little escapades.

  • Stephen Kelly

    It also reminds a lot of people across the world how they suffered under the British which is very important lest we forget eh.

  • The Irishman

    There is a Gaeltacht out the back of my house on the Shaws Road, so i hear Irish every day.
    I hear polish once every few months.

  • Old Mortality

    No it isn’t. Most Jews would have only used Hebrew in the synagogue and are more likely to have spoken Yiddish or the language of wherever they happened to live. Similarly, the Irish in overwhelming numbers would have encountered Latin in the course of regular worship. Hence the analogy.

  • Georgie Best

    If unionists accepted democracy there would be no need to name the North of Ireland anything.

  • Barneyt

    …and what would one of the consequences be, intended or otherwise? I’ve heard some from the DUP suggest Irish would take prominance over english? Even if that happened, I cant see where the threat would be. No-one talking about repeating the historical attacks the irish language has endured. English wont be outlawed and no-one will be punished or discriminated against for its use.

    Its a mighty endorsement of the language and those that support, teach and use it, to suggest it could take over so to speak. at the expense of English. That would be some recovery. If that is a fear, and I might add, an irrationale one, we should look at it.

    The DUP have a two-strand prejudice against the language, one because its simply Irish and the other fuelled by the fact SF are pushing this an they might hand them some victory.

    They wont look at it as language restoration come rain or shine.They choose not to

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    Irish would have been used in regular worship too.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Not Irish taking precedence over English, no – but a PUL population feeling ever more sidelined, that ‘progressive’ cultural measures are equated with pro-CNR cultural measures.

    The mockery thrown at what is a perfectly valid and interesting Scots tradition that’s important for some, for example, is one example (and I’m not suggesting linguistic equivalence here, just a better effort at cultural pluralism).

    As I’ve said a few times, the best PUL approach is not to stand in the way of nationalist culture but to develop a more ambitious cultural agenda of our own. It needs to go beyond the interest in Scots language and beyond the Orange hall. A friend I haven’t seen in years works in the museums sector and I remember used to do great work in local community museums, helping people reconnect with their community’s past and understand it. There is, I suspect, a big appetite for those local level museums, spaces and shows. I’d like to see unionist parties taking this opportunity of arguing for a matched funding and matched esteem approach, where high profile measures benefitting one community have to be matched for the other.

    This could really change the record for some PUL communities and give them a sense of being valued by wider NI society, instead of whole areas being written off because of the worst behaviour of some of its residents. It also makes it easier to clamp down on that bad behaviour, without it being taken as an attack on everyone there.

    It is a fallacy to suggest promoting only Irish is necessary because there is a need to ‘rebalance’ our culture. The truth is both cultures feel and have strong evidence for feeling under-valued. Pushing one and not the other only heightens tensions and produces new sources of grievance – the last thing NI needs.

  • Georgie Best

    The PUL have ruled the roost for 400 years and cannot tolerate others having a fair shake. It is fair enough not to write off whole areas being written off because of the worst behaviour of some of its residents, this is true anywhere. But the PUL community are responsible for the behaviour of those they vote for.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I really don’t think they rule the roost in the way you suggest these days

    I might also point out that most nationalists now vote for the IRA’s political wing.

  • Georgie Best

    People only starting voting for SF in big numbers when they stopped the violent campaign. Nationalist voters are supporting SF moderation.

  • Barneyt

    We certainly need a more shared existence. We know that unionism has dominicated over the years, quite literally at the expense of Irish people, as some might say, caught on the wrong side of the border. We are a long way from seeing unionism in Northern Ireland regarding themselves as equal to their catholicIrish cohabitants. It could take another 25 years to erode that arrogant level of superiority. I of course generalise without wishing to soil the more enlightened.

    The ulster scots thing was an own goal and if exposed to say, Scotland and its poeple, unionsm will get laughed at and ridiculed even more. I’ve seen many cry with laughter when viewing official sites and materials. They mostly reacted to it as a piss-take.

    There was another article posted recently that examined the level of privilege afforded to unionism, which I think is highly relevant. We know why the statelet was formed. It was not a land grab in the traditional sense or even strategic (otherwise the western coast of Donegal would have been retained). It was a region created to serve one type of person, and that is someone who typically falls into the current PUL community and is loyal to London and its monarchy. For too long, northern ireland was ruled by this community. This was a mitake by London, which served to throw catholcs to the wolves. They shaped nothern ireland solely for themselves and the habits that formed will take much longer to break than we think, despite recent agreements, and powersharing etc..

    Unionism does not need to horse trade with the Irish language. The irish language cause may continue to suffer due to SF getting behind it, and more damagingly, due to the resistence this engenders within Unionism. Assuming it outgrows its unfortunate tug of war between SF and the DUP, the campaign will progress along different lines and it will be hard to ignore. Continued opposition to the act will translate as simply opposition to anything Irish. This will gain more international attention. Oposition will in time be correctly seen in as the pure rascism that it is. Unionism needs to stop painting Irish as something potentially imposed. In simple terms it is an attempt to restore and give appropriate prominance to the original language of the isle.

    Unionism has mocked the language. Laughing at foreign names and foreign languages they say, represents the last bastion of British rascism and this would not be tolerated in many other parts of the world I am sure trying to make a similar recovery. Unionist opposition will eventually set up camp within this enclosure, if they do not look at the Irish language differently i.e. as something the Irish want and should have as a basic right on the Island of Ireland.

  • 05OCT68

    They have a right to apply to the parades commission to march, not an automatic right to march.

  • 05OCT68

    Gave up, like they just decided that English was better or superior.

  • 05OCT68

    Thank God we “learnt” English our Irish language was dying anyway.

  • 05OCT68

    Ah the auld Polish argument. Problem being Polish is not indigenous to Ireland, nor is Polish a language that needs nurtured, Poland a country of 40 million Polish speakers is unlikely to loose its indigenous language. Where are the Polish Language equality activists? Are you one.

  • 05OCT68

    So the Polish will have to keep their heads down after Brexit? Subtle. Are you ashamed that you come from a tradition that eradicated a language it couldn’t be bothered to learn?

  • 05OCT68

    Baile Átha Cliath (meaning “town of the hurdled ford”) & the official name of the city came before the Vikings used the Irish Dublin. In Irish Baile Átha Cliath is used, confusing aye but it makes it interesting.

  • 05OCT68

    Aye I see where yer coming from, Irish is as foreign to NI as Polish, Irish people living in the North are as foreign as Pols.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “We are a long way from seeing unionism in Northern Ireland regarding themselves as equal to their catholicIrish cohabitants. It could take another 25 years to erode that arrogant level of superiority.”
    You must meet different people from me Barney – do you talk to people exclusively at National Front demos or something?! I just do not recognise that in 2017.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2:
    “A little month, or ere those shoes were old
    With which she follow’d my poor father’s body,
    Like Niobe, all tears:–why she, even she–
    O, God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason,
    Would have mourn’d longer …
    Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
    Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
    She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
    With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
    It is not nor it cannot come to good:
    But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.”

  • Georgie Best

    There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I agree – let’s get the assembly and executive back, the tide is higher than some realise.

  • Georgie Best
  • Backbencher

    I thought my previous response was clear (para 2 & 3), but for the simple (sorry!), – the ILA will further divide the people and provide another badge of ‘them and us’, Unionists will be forced out of the civil service if SF get their way with recruitment quotas, further elevation of Irishness over the Ulster Scots traditions.

    I am obviously not the only one that thinks so
    https://t.co/m8DTTbYwp6

  • NotNowJohnny

    And still you haven’t answered the question and are still engaging in man playing. So I’ll ask the question again. How do you think the passing of an ILA will move forward a united Ireland? I put it to you (again) that it won’t. And here’s another one. What leads you to the conclusion that unionists will be forced out of the civil service? And how will this be carried out? Will it be through compulsory redundancy and will they be offered a generous redundancy package? Will they have a case for unfair dismissal or for religious discrimination under the equality legislation? And as regards the further elevation of Irish over the Ulster Scots tradition, can you provide any evidence that Irish has been elevated over Ulster Scots and, if it has, who within government has been responsible for elevating it thus?

  • Backbencher

    I’ll try one more time
    How do you think the passing of an ILA will move forward a united Ireland?
    Unionists will feel alienated and a percentage will leave for the mainland reducing unionist numbers in NI. A micro example of this is Queens University, rampant displays of republicanism lead to reduced unionist applications with many choosing to study in GB.

    What leads you to the conclusion that unionists will be forced out of the civil service?
    With a percentage of jobs reserved for Irish speakers, unionists will have less opportunities to join the Civil Service and promotion opportunities for those already employed will be similarly reduced, hence Unionists will be forced to leave to further their career (indirect discrimination)

    Elevation of Irish over the Ulster Scots tradition,
    I am sure you are aware that the Irish sector has been granted the privilege of their own education sector at considerable cost and to the detriment of the rest of the education sector. The special terms in relation to pupil numbers is absurd.

  • SDLP supporter

    Frankly, it says something when you can’t even be bothered to spell correctly the name of the party you support. There are good Irish language classes in An Droichead.

    All you do is spread allegations. I happen to know Carmel Hanna and Claire Hanna and they were and are conscientious and honest public representatives. As you will know, Declan Boyle has left the SDLP but he is doing nothing wrong by having a house letting business. After all, the Sinn Fein MLA for South Belfast is a multi-millionaire on the back of endless “conferences” for naïve Yanks which never seem to achieve any purpose.

    If you have any have complaints about corruption you should make them to the relevant authorities. Otherwise, you shouldn’t smear people by making unsubstantiated allegations.

  • SDLP supporter

    Skibo, had to delay my reply as I have been working.

    The government papers were not, as you assert, “released at the time”. This was a private opinion of a top UK civil servant, Peter Bell, touching on some of the positive work that Haughey had done.

    It is a matter of public record that Haughey opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement while in opposition, then worked it when he returned to government. Are you seriously denying this? I will provide chapter and verse provided you agree to pay £100 to a nominated charity (mine, and not of Caitriona Ruane’s choosing.)

    The first Lisbon Treaty referendum was held on 12 June 2008, Sinn Fein were in the ‘No’ camp (as they were entitled to be) and the referendum was lost. There were changes, as you say, at the second referendum was held on 2 October 2009 and was passed. Sinn Fein were on the ‘No’ side in the second referendum as well.

    Contrary to what you insinuate, Sinn Fein were opposed to the EU and advocated withdrawal in successive Dail elections until Martin McGuinness changed policy on the hoof during his unsuccessful 2011 bid for the Irish presidency.

    Don’t get me wrong. Sinn Fein had every right to be in opposition to the EU, and indeed I have reservations myself, but it is disingenuous of you to try to re-write the historical record.

  • Skibo

    I take it you did not open the attachment!
    “This assessment of the controversial Fianna Fáil leader and Irish prime minister (taoiseach) between 1987 and 1992 has been revealed in previously confidential files released on Friday by the Public Record Office.”
    And further:
    “The report, dated 12 December, 1986, noted: “The present Anglo-Irish Agreement stems from initiatives taken on the Irish side by a Fianna Fáil administration, led by Mr Haughey. At his summit meeting with Mrs Thatcher in December 1980, a series of joint studies were started.”
    What about:
    “Also, his successor as taoiseach, Dr Garret FitzGerald, had “often observed (that) the Anglo-Irish Agreement was the result of initiatives begun by his predecessor”.
    So the groundwork for the AIA was from 1980.
    The fallout between Haughey and Donlon was more about whether to bring in the more militant streams of Irish influence in the States. Perhaps had that been done, the push for bringing militant Republicanism within the democratic process may have been accelerated.
    It always seems to be policy when in opposition, oppose what the party in power are doing. Perhaps he had a different view about where he wanted the AIA to take us than what Fitzgerald had.

    If I have misled you in some way as to imply that SF were not anti EU previously, I apologise but I didn’t think I did.
    Interestingly, the Tories were pro EU when they brought the UK into the EEC and Labour were anti. Now it is difficult to know where either party actually sits as both have pro and anti elements within it, much like the UUP at the moment.
    Some would go as far as saying the DUP also but the pro element would be much smaller.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As a devolved administration of a province, it is part of a country, or perhaps two, but it is not in itself a country. The name “Northern Ireland” recognises that it is a part of Ireland, while its sovereign status is as part of the “Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” But the majority of voters appear to want to hold SF as a close second at Stormont at the last testing of their wishes. What the majority in the whole community wish we do not know as no one has actually asked them the question regarding the particular designation of sovereignty directly.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Pedantic point of detail Jaded, but it has significance. They were campaigning to derail Home Rule in 1912. Partition was only mentioned in passing in 1913, and only seriously discussed even as a temporary (six year delay) measure in 1914. It was only with the failure of the Irish Constitutional Conference in 1917 that Westminster decided to offer Home Rule to the north and south seperately with the intention only of delaying one state Home Rule for an acclimatising period. Even Craig could still speak of this measure of partition as a temporary measure in the 1930s, and I’ve quoted his words several times on Slugger. The permanent NI which has come about was never the intention of either Westminster, or even many of its Unionist architects.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And yet the requirement to delay reunification even should a majority desire it is being claimed by other Unionist posters on Slugger as a “ respect” issue!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    It takes two to tango MU! Unionism could always have outmanoeuvred SF if it had not been utterly opposed to an Act on principal from the earliest mentions of any legislation. “Atavistic ends” is the very nature of both of the largest parties, and a few of the smaller entities also. It is hardly the property of SF, who are only conforming to well established patterns already encoded by Unionism itself from its earliest stirrings.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The important thing is to examine the patterns of exchange which have brought us to an intractable position and to recognise the Unionist role in bringing this about. Simply doing the old zero sum game of SF as sole architect of the present situation fails to meaningfully address anything which might actually engender a shift to centrist pluralist nationalism here. The Unionist voters demand for “not an inch” politics which lifted the Paisley party above Trimble’s own efforts to make the Agreement work while only making begrudging concessions to compromise is what drove other voters to vote for SF rather than for more centrist candidates. This was not the fault of SF, who only took electoral advantage of that encoded Unionist intractability which is the unwelcome inheritance of Unionism’s own origins.

  • jaded

    Indeed, you are right. Such a complex time in our history. Too complex for many freestaters it would appear.

  • jaded

    Actually, I thought I read that Carson included partition as an amending bill to Home rule in the house of commons in 1912 or 1913?

    Perhaps it was mentioned more than just in passing?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    A short term opt out for individual counties had been suggested as early as 1910. An organised partition for four counties in the north was first mentioned in June 1912 by Liberal backbencher Agar-Roberts and only seriously proposed as an amending bill during the horse trading after the arrest debacle in March 1914. The problem was that the Covenant was framed as an all Ireland idea to wreck Home Rule and the whole idea of partition by definition undermined the Irish Unionist Alliance on that very issue and so seriously divided the party even in the north. In March 1914 the arrest of the nine county “Ulster” Provisional Government personnel was attempted by Churchill and failed by a hairs breath. Only then was a temporary partition even contemplated by Westminster as a sop to the jeering UUC and Tories. But the unfolding committment to Partition as a solution was very late in even finding the north in any agreement as to what it might mean in practice.

    Talking about partition within Unionism in 1910-20 was a very different thing to the version we now take for granted. “Partition, yes, but not as we know it….”