Why Unionism has a problem…

Nothing in life is inevitable so the old saying goes, other than death and taxes and maybe Arsenal finishing fourth in the Premier League, so the recent old news that the Catholic population of Northern Ireland may soon reach a voting majority might cause sleepless nights. Of course, Unionists will be quick to point out that substantial numbers of Catholics, including a proportion of SF voters, would not vote for a United Ireland if a referendum were to be held …

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Whatever the parties say the post #AE17 dissolution is no stepping stone to a united Ireland…

With the plethora of positive comment in that direction, you’d certainly think was already coming in the post. It’s certainly good to get the subject out on the table (even if the party politics of it obscures more than it reveals of the subject). It’s good to know Fianna Fail is working on a 12 point plan (although the proper time to judge the worthiness of any such plan will come when they actually release it).  The something in the …

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A United Ireland is not inevitable – here is why

There has been much recent discussion about a border poll & the “inevitable” move towards a United Ireland yet there has been scant detail. Nationalist politicians have cited the economic benefits of an all island economy but looking at the lastest statistics from the Department for the Economy I find that 86% of all Northern Ireland sales are with Northern Ireland & Great Britain. If we exclude internal Northern Ireland trade we find that sales to the rest of the …

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Kenny calls for United Ireland provision in Brexit deal

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny was speaking today about some provisions he would like to see in any Brexit deal which included a deal that would see Northern Ireland back in the EU should the electorate decide to vote for Irish unity. Outlining his position he said; “In other words, that in such future time, whenever that might be, were it [reunification] to occur, that the north of Ireland would have ease of access to join as a member of the …

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Have [or how] the DUP made a United Ireland more likely?

Fintan O’Toole seems to think so. He argues in his column in the Irish Times that the party’s shady dealings – the Iris Robinson affair, the NAMA scandal and the Cash for Ash debacle – make the DUP look like Fianna Fáíl’s northern branch. While the ‘Brexit spree’ gambled the future of NI within the ‘UK’. As O’Toole puts it: “Before it embarked on its Brexit spree, Northern Ireland was becoming a surprisingly stable political entity. For the first time …

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In a slow and secret transition within Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams, still in charge, appears to be setting high targets for negotiations on the Assembly

At a Sinn Fein conference on a united Ireland in Dublin,  Gerry Adams has claimed Brexit  is a “ hostile action” that  will “destroy the Good Friday Agreement”,  although adding that  “special status” would not take Northern Ireland out of the UK. Is this to be a sticking point in any talks to restore the Assembly?  If so he’d be setting the bar very high and over quite a long timescale for resolution. Although it has been taken to mean …

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Micheál Martin invokes Hume to argue that the centre has, can and must continue to hold…

“Will it be said, when the array of tombs which stretch from end to end of Europe have been multiplied, that there had been plenty of time.., but that the statesmen waited too long and the soldiers took control?” – Eamon De Valera, address to the League of Nations I’ve been away over the weekend so I missed Micheal Martin’s speech at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties. The media generally picked up on his observation that Brexit could make the …

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“‘New language’, my arse!”

At his Broken Elbow blog Ed Moloney has some fun with the same Detail report that Brian noted in his recent post – “another important waypoint in SF’s bewildering, extraordinary journey“. I have read this piece several times. It is based on a speech given by SF MEP Matt Carthy and no matter how I hold it – up to the light, sideways, upside down or at various angles – it seems to be saying the same thing: the Good Friday Agreement is …

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Constitutional uncoupling, or the decline in support for Nationalist parties amongst the Catholic community of Northern Ireland

Unmistakeably one of the main stories of the 2016 Assembly election has been the sharp drop in the share of the vote of Sinn Féin and the SDLP, which has fallen 3.6% since the 2015 General Election and 5.6% from the 41.2% combined share that they polled at the previous Assembly election in 2011. This is certainly a very disappointing result for those in favour of Irish unity, especially amongst those who had hoped that the centenary of the Easter …

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“The report’s Canadian authors made their numbers add up by using a ‘Tory island’ model of small government, low taxes, free markets and no debt…”

In the Irish News, Newton Emerson has fun with the recent Sinn Féin re-launch [and re-re-launch! – Ed] of the report they commissioned, under cover of the “Knights of the Red Branch Inc”,  of the benefits of an economically right-wing united Ireland. From the Irish News An academic study showing Northern Ireland would be better off in a united Ireland, commissioned last year by Friends of Sinn Féin in San Francisco, has been re-launched in Dublin and Belfast to immediate denunciations …

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“Would you favour a united Ireland?”

With Sinn Féin trying, again, to drum up interest in the report they commissioned of an ‘independent’ modelling of the benefits of an economically right-wing united Ireland, TheJournal.ie reports on the responses of the RTÉ Claire Byrne Live / Amarách Research Panel to the question, “Would you favour a united Ireland?”. From TheJournal.ie report The question was posed “Would you favour a united Ireland?” The question was asked in the run-up to this weekend’s Easter Rising celebrations. In total, 54% said Yes, 24% said No and …

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Schrödinger’s Ireland – The current state of Unity, is it alive or dead?

“A United Ireland is Inevitable: Discuss” I went to a debate in Omagh on this topic, hosted by Sinn Féin’s Barry McElduff, with an open mind, willing to be challenged and frankly, looking for a way to understand the rationale behind the United Ireland cause. Most of what I know about partition, the Easter Rising and that era came from a trip to Kilmainham Jail a couple of years ago.  What I do know though is that this happened a long …

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Queens Students Union vote strongly for neutrality and narrowly against United Ireland

Talking to a friend early who said every road unionism takes leads back inevitably to the liberal outlook of O’Neill on an inclusive society, and every road a nationalist takes leads back to an accommodation with their neighbours. Some proof of that Queens tonight, when a motion to keep the Students Union a neutral venue was endorsed 2,596 to 409. The Union’s border poll was a lot closer, but was lost 1,285 votes to 1,264 despite a DUP boycott of the poll. …

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#uniref: what are mechanics of a border poll?

In today’s Belfast Telegraph, Liam Clarke is reporting on an opinion poll that says that a majority of people want a referendum on a border called. David has already sketched out some ideas of what a Yes campaign might look like, but what are the actual mechanics of holding such a referendum? The calling of a referendum is described in Annex A of the Belfast Agreement text (usually called the Good Friday Agreement). In reality, the Belfast Agreement is two …

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Ignoring the small issue of a border poll, what might a new united Ireland be like?

MLA Conall McDevitt

(This should have appeared early on Friday morning – until the gremlins got in the way.)

Last week, before the release of the BBC NI Spotlight poll, I talked to a local MLA about the concept of a new Ireland. Over the last few months there has been an increasing level of chatter analysing the mechanics of calling a border poll and interpreting census results.

Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to delve under the instinctive longing and loathing that is so often associated with the notion of a united Ireland to explore what the new state might look like if the conditions could ever be met to have a poll.

Much – though not all – of the commentary comes back to promoting a nationalist ideal of an El Dorado paradise or declaring the unionist nightmare of forcibly cutting ties to the British monarch.

Intellectually it’s a lot more interesting to get beyond the emotion and wonder … What if? What might be the shape of this potential state? How might the population in the north east corner relate to those in the south west? What governance arrangements might be put in place, or indeed left in place? What parts of Northern Ireland’s public sector and civil society would survive, or even thrive? How would the six counties integrate with the twenty six?

And while a poll may be a distant prospect, grasping the Presbyterian principle of ‘not refusing light from any quarter’ I wondered whether a Northern Ireland that is still settled in the Union had anything to learn from new Ireland thinking.

I’d heard Conall McDevitt, SDLP MLA for South Belfast, talking about the importance of region at an election event a couple of years ago, so I met up with him last week to pick his brains. We talked about identity, economy and his opinion of Sinn Féin’s “flag-waving” activity around the border poll. But first I asked about his vision of a united Ireland.

I think one of the great issues with the debate around the a border poll and in fact one of the great issues within both Irish unionism and Irish nationalism is that we have an awful habit of wanting to either remain in the union or to be in a united Ireland. But if we’re honest with ourselves we haven’t done a huge amount of work in trying to work through what that would look like (if you’re thinking about a united Ireland) or to consider the practical issues around it. How would you pay for it? What system of government might be best? Would it be a unitary state? Or would you have a federal Ireland?

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Aaron & Brian’s Sunday View: the Census

  The Irish Times led with, ‘There are just 54,000 more people from a Protestant background than from a Catholic one in Northern Ireland’. The headline figure, that most papers and the media noticed, was that the gap between Protestants and Catholics had narrowed to 3 per cent in the recent statistics released from the 2011 census. Bringing together the information on Religion and Religion Brought up in, 45 per cent of the population were either Catholic or brought up …

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Turas, by Colin Neill – a story of strangers in a strange land

book cover of Turas, by Colin Neill

Colin Neill’s first novel Turas peeks into a world in which many Ulster Protestants feel uncomfortable. It’s 2020 and the Irish unification that unionists and loyalists confidently predicted would never happen has become a reality. President Adams is ensconced in Phoenix Park. The newsreader reported that … a short ceremony at Stormont had confirmed the passing of Northern Ireland, and had officially confirmed the birth of a now 32 county Republic of Ireland. The Union Jack had been lowered and …

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If Robinson pitches for Catholic votes, where does that leave nationalism?

There’s a long distance between Catholics preferring to stay where they are and getting them to actively vote for Unionist parties. But that’s what Peter Robinson’s pitching for. Good luck to him, though as Conal McDevitt points out there’s a considerable way to go to convince people the politics emanating from OFMdFM is not business as usual. Robinson has some form on this, as Pete pointed out the day he took up the baton from his former leader to become …

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A modest proposal…

Introducing the DUP.ie: A new political party to coincide with the visit of Her Gracious Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second of the United Kingdom and bits of Ireland…. Hat tip: @conorp on Twitter Paul EvansLiving in London, working as a trade union official in the film and TV industry (opinions my own). Author of “Save Democracy, Abolish Voting” (published by Demsoc in November 2017). Personal website with link to other writing here. On twitter as @paul0evans1 nevertrustahippy.blogspot.com

“How many school yards now ring out to nationalist or republican songs like ours did?”

One of the most striking things about Barry Flynn’s great evocation of the IRA’s 1950’s border campaign was the degree to which the shooting of IRA volunteers Sean South and Fergal O’Hanlon seemed to galvanise pro Republic sentiment south of the border. That was reprised with the death of the ten hunger strikers of the early 80s. But in the absence of conflict and death from Northern Ireland the south has simply presumed all is well and settled and has …

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