The Myth of Democracy In Ireland

Sean Bresnahan argues that democracy in Ireland is a myth. (Sean Bresnahan is a regular contributor to The Pensive Quill. He writes here as part of an ongoing discussion with other contributors to the comments section of the site, in the hope that further debate can materialise.

The Irish people did not, as claimed by many, express democratic support for the 1998 Belfast Agreement. That is a myth. In the South, only 50 percent of those registered to vote, which is less again than the percentage of those entitled to vote but who couldn't because they weren't registered, voted in the first instance - yes with a comprehensive majority of that more limited constituency agreeing not to support the Good Friday Agreement but to amend Articles 2 and 3 of the 26-county constitution.

Sean Bresnahan
So the numbers involved represent much less than a majority of those who live in the 26-Counties, never mind Ireland. Nor were they voting on the so-called Good Friday Agreement as they had simply no role in it and were thus not permitted to do so (it was and remains an internal British solution to the constitutional crisis in the Six Counties). In the North, the vote was on the Multi-Party Agreement reached during negotiations at Stormont and between parties internal to the Six Counties, supervised by the British and Dublin governments.

So the 1998 Agreement was never actually put to the Irish people, with a minority of them instead voting on two separate matters in two separate processes, neither of which involved a yes / no option on the so-called Good Friday Agreement as a document of itself. Thus that Agreement cannot then in truth be considered a reflection of popular will, despite the claims of some.

Beyond that again we might also note that further agreements at St. Andrews and Stormont House, neither of which were voted on by anyone anywhere in Ireland, have changed the context of the original terms agreed in 1998, exposing yet further the myth that the Irish people voted for what we have in this country today. They did not. It derives from British legislation written and passed by the British government in the British parliament, not anything we could describe as an act of self-determination. That the Dublin government saw fit to change Articles 2 and 3 for a second time, unilaterally and outside of the political process relating to the North, only illustrates further that we are dealing with anything other than Irish democracy in action.

We all know the democratic will in Ireland is for Irish Unity but that this is blocked by an external power in contravention of the principles of self-determination and national sovereignty. Indeed it is even acknowledged in the Belfast Agreement of itself, when it asserts that the want of the great majority in Ireland is to be part of a United Ireland. And yet Britain, with others, would claim to be implementing the democratic will of the people. Just because those with power might say something, projecting their strength in doing so, does not mean it is true. We should not then fall for what is no more than a clever confidence trick.

If those who claim to support the democratic will of the people are serious then they will allow that will to be freely expressed and implemented. Those who go against the same are in essence anti-democratic, their position serving to legitimise the triumph of force over the democratic process itself. Britain has no democratic mandate in Ireland and its ongoing presence, in violation of the democratic will, is upheld through force. To accept otherwise is to accept the legitimacy of Britain's suppression of Irish democracy.

We can dress this up as something progressive but it does not change that it is born of the politics of conquest. Contriving a process to exclude the preference of the great majority is not democracy. Indeed it wantonly ignores democracy and with it the national right of the Irish people to self-determination. Those who claim an affinity with democracy while railing against such logic, denying the universal right to self-determination in the process, might do well to examine what democracy actually entails.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

89 comments to ''The Myth of Democracy In Ireland"

  1. The narrative in our country has been controlled by the colonial/ imperialist power that has stood over us with weapons trained on our elderly and our youth for the better part of 800 years.
    Continuing the divide and rule policy they have selectively chosen our leaders via assassination either directly or via proxy armies they have orchestrated, funded and armed against us thereby forcing us to take up arms ourselves and by sparing those they were sure they could 'turn'.
    Only through that armed struggle did the enemy learn to listen and it spent many years developing a strategy to get the 'Leadership'to renounce that aspect of the struggle and coral us into the political cul de sac we now find ourselves in. I have no desire to see a return to armed struggle but it is imperative to remember only one side has honoured that aspect of the ceasefire.
    Their guns are still trained on us and will be used whenever the enemy sees fit.
    Ireland divided shall never know peace.

  2. Bout ye Sean,

    "The Irish people did not, as claimed by many, express democratic support for the 1998 Belfast Agreement. That is a myth"

    Do you mean the Irish people as a whole? Who claims they did? The GFA was for the 6 counties only, and the Referendum was for the 26 counties. Two separate issues. As for the percentages, voting is not compulsory in Ireland North or South, and one could easily make the case that the majority of Unionists voted AGAINST the GFA in the North. Do you wish for compulsory voting? It has some merit I suppose.

    "We all know the democratic will in Ireland is for Irish Unity but that this is blocked by an external power in contravention of the principles of self-determination and national sovereignty. Indeed it is even acknowledged in the Belfast Agreement of itself, when it asserts that the want of the great majority in Ireland is to be part of a United Ireland. And yet Britain, with others, would claim to be implementing the democratic will of the people. Just because those with power might say something, projecting their strength in doing so, does not mean it is true. We should not then fall for what is no more than a clever confidence trick."

    Going back to what I said on a previous post (AM-forgive me for cross-referencing), 'Britain' has been trying to get rid of Northern Ireland for many, many years (as former Secretary of State Patrick Mayhew said 'No selfish, strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland) but the only thing holding them back is the political sway of the Unionists. But this is where I get confused by your points above.

    Do you accept the Ulster Unionists ARE British or at the very least see themselves as such and it is them you want out of Ireland? Or how do you see them?

    I understand that you ideologically deny the legitimacy and legality of the State in the 6 counties, but do you accept that compared to all that went before it, that the relative 'peace' in the 6 counties without the widespread bloodshed and commercial bombing is better than a return to conflict?

    Happy to discuss Sean, cheers.

  3. Sean,

    no offence meant but I'm pretty sure if we were to do a random survey of 1000 people here in the 26 counties and ask them to read your article and suggest they characterise the type of person the author might be I'm more than confident that a vast majority would select the 'ideologue crack-pot' category for you. One reason I'm so confident is that I was once one too.

    Your brain works to the degree that its busy and seems to me locked in overdrive with your blind obsession. Its a thin line we all walk and we all avoid reality in a myriad of different ways. Your rationalisations are a valiant attempt to negate the hard truths of the situation of where republicanism of the type you practise now finds itself. Maintaining such self-deception must require so much energy. It evokes some sadness in me that so much energy is still misdirected in pursuit of this futile cause.

    Sure Sean you can be pedantic and play with the semantics if you must but effectively 94% of the people of this state endorsed the thrust of the GFA. The turnout was relatively high at 56.3% for a referendum that didn't coincide with a local or general election. The 21st amendment for example which entrenched the existing statutory prohibition of capital punishment attracted a mere 34.8%. By your reckoning should that decision be considered invalid too? That some no doubt were disenfranchised to the extent they weren't on the register is a red herring. Statistically following the pattern of the actual vote 94% were likely to have endorsed it!

    The nineteenth amendment provided for the conditional amendment of Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution, which subsequently came into effect when the Good Friday Agreement did and allowed for the state to be bound by the Good Friday Agreement.

    Here Sean is the new amended relevant piece of the Bunreacht that I often refer to in my posts. I suggest you read it, read it well and digest it for this is what 94% of the electorate (who turned out on the day) voted for.

    Article 3.1
    It is the firm will of the Irish Nation, in harmony and friendship, to unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland, in all the diversity of their identities and traditions, recognising that a united Ireland shall be brought about only by peaceful means with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island.

    Note my emphasis; Sean its not necessarily a given any more that the South would take on the North. That constitutionally will now require a referendum down here. Republicans need to keep cognisance of that too. Daunting challenge all round.

  4. Northern Ireland is a recognised state, recognised by the UN, US, EU, AND the Republic of Ireland. Stamping your feet and shouting "It's not fair! It's not fair" will not make it go away. That you expend so much energy trying to move the unmoveable is such a waste. Nothing that the 1916 Societies is doing will change the status quo. You would be well advised to put your energies into something more constructive and hope that Nicola Sturgeon delivers what you want.

  5. Sean,

    I think even political anoraks will find the reasoning torturous. The more theological sounding an argument (you might recall some of them in respect of the legitimacy of the Dail) the less impact it is likely to make. Political ideas have to be conveyed with something other than casuistry otherwise they get lost.

    Having voted against the GFA I didn't really labour under any misapprehension about what it was. It was very much an expression of the democratic sentiment throughout this country. People knew exactly what would result. I did not approve but that is democracy with all its ragged edges and ill fitting, uncomfortable and uneven formulae. In those famous words the people have voted, the bastards.

    I think it better that you spend time on explaining how OIOV is to be made applicable. Who is to arrange it? How will they be persuaded to arrange it? What is to happen when the vote is counted? If it is for a UI who is empowered by that vote to implement it? Can OIOV object to a referendum that asks "should unity be brought about only by agreement North and South"?

    If you get over those hurdles, all the dancing on the head of a pin that goes with arguments about the GFA can be sidestepped and you can move onto strategic matters.

    While you are to be commended for writing it, I think it is only a tiny few will be receptive to it.

  6. Anthony, I can't argue everything at once and the purpose of the article, as 'anoraky' as it might come across, was not to address the points you raise (as important as they may be) but to highlight that partition does not derive from and is neither upheld by the democratic process - for how could it when it ignored and continues to ignores the democratic will of the people. The democratic will of the Irish people is to live in an independent 32-county republic and that holds true regardless of the legitimacy of the First Dáil. Every opinion poll conducted on this matter reflects this enduring reality.

    That it has not become a reality is because Britain stands in the way, refusing the will of the people and foisting on them instead her own self-serving arrangements, whose design are on a permanent British presence in our country (and we are talking about the British state and not the Ulster Protestants in case there is confusion). How can that ever be held as democratic? To contrive a process that excludes the will of the people and then have them vote on your preferred outcome under duress is hardly democracy in action and that's what happened in 1998.

    I also voted against the Good Friday Agreement and argued that others should do likewise. Regardless that they didn't, I have not since come to see the outcome as an 'expression of the democratic sentiment throughout this country', for reasons just explained, alongside the more 'anoraky' stuff set out in the article itself. It was war or peace or else and not for the first time. That those who voted did so for peace is hardly a revelation and neither is it that democratic sentiment in this country is for peace. We are a peace-loving people and have always wanted peace, electing for armed struggle only when it became a necessity as Kevin has mentioned above.

    There are other points from other contributors and I intend to reply, but having just read through the comments yours and its subject matter is the first that caught my attention and thus was dealt with first, even though not the first in line. A quick point on what Steve has said is that of course it is not the unionist community we want to withdraw from Ireland, they are an integral part of this nation. I respect their British identify and roots but do not subscribe to the notion of 'two nations - one island'. For me it's one nation and two traditions, both of which can be accommodated in a New All-Ireland Republic.

  7. Sean,

    that is true, There is only so much we can handle at one time and it is unfair to ask you to cover everything.

    I think you confuse democratic will with democratic preference. The democratic preference is for unity. The democratic will has willed something else. The democratic will is as has been voted on as much to our consternation as that may have been.

    The democratic preference is for unity via consent of a majority of people in the North.

    The will has been expressed and it has posed a huge problem for republicans.

    Moreover, for those republicans who shout uphold the democratic preference then violate it by armed actions, the argument for the democratic will being respected just falls flat on its face.

  8. Yes but the Societies are not engaged in armed action Anthony so there is no reason for me to address the latter issue you raise. Nor does the continuing presence of armed republicans in any way impact on the right of the Irish to self-determination, it exists outside of such matters and on the strength of its own merit.

    In terms of my confusing the notion of democratic will with democratic preference, where is your evidence that the Good Friday Agreement represents the democratic will of the people? Given that the Good Friday Agreement was never voted on by the Irish people, as Steve admits above, then how can we say it embodies their democratic will?

    We can't. It was not an act of national self-determination but a contrived fudge emerging from a contrived process, to get around that the British occupation derives from conquest and not the outworking of democracy. The agenda throughout has been to exclude the actual will of the Irish people, which is for unity, while presenting the facade going forward that Britain is merely implementing their democratic will.

    She is not and has ignored that will both at the time of partition, when suppressing the lawfully established Irish Republic, and throughout the years since, ultimately, in terms of this debate, through shaping a process whose intent was and remains to frustrate the right to self-determination in Ireland.

    All that said, the right to self-determination remains and our strategy is to build an effective campaign that empowers it, leading in turn to the reconstitution of the Irish Republic. Part of that involves challenging that the 1998 Agreement reflects the democratic will of the people and thus the need for the article, however pedantic its argument.

  9. Sean,

    no, the 1916 Societies do not engage in armed actions but that does not preclude you from discussing violations of the national will if as a body the Societies primarily exist to defend the national will as they see it.

    Armed republicanism impacts on the right to self determination in that it denies the Irish people any right to determine who can use force on its behalf.

    Aa much as I have opposed the GFA it embodies the national will because when each electorate voted in the double referendum it knew exactly what the outcome would be. It knew that the outcome of the vote was partition and unity only by consent. Why else did we vote against it? We knew the outcome, predicted the outcome, committed ourselves to the public record about what the outcome would be.

    Again, you confuse will with preference but I couldn't be bothered trying to persuade you otherwise as I think it is futile.

    Bottom line amounts to this: you feel the GFA violates the national will. You are therefore free to persuade people to change their minds. People are free to accept your analysis or ignore it.

    We have a situation where people don't share your view on whether partition expresses the national will. You seem unable to change that, either through weakness of argument or intransigence on those you argue with. But the crucial thing is you are not persuading people. Therefore the strategic question is not all sides theologising and agonising over the mysteries of the GFA and ending up sounding like Frank Sheed explaining the Holy Trinity, but how do you actualise the proposal of OIOV?

    Until that happens,
    it matters not,
    they have the vote
    and you have not

    That is an old play on the ditty about the use of the Gattling gun but I couldn't resist the fun of it.

    We know the Irish people have willed partition into continuing. They have assented to it, they support the parties that work to keep it in place, and instead of pretending that they didn't you should think about confronting them with arguments that tell them exactly what they have done. And they have the right to dismiss your case. The strategic sterility that flows from the reiteration of the mantra does what precisely? Nothing. That might be frustrating but it is what it is. As Lenin said about socialism, waving red flags was not going to make it happen: political strategy was required for that. So where is the strategy? "An effective campaign that empowers it" means no more than me saying I am planning to dig a tunnel to the moon. You might think it a good idea but you would be within your rights to ask "how?"

    Explain how the all Ireland referendum of OIOV is a strategy rather than a slogan.

    I accept that is a question outside what you were addressing but it naturally flows from it.

  10. Straight off the bat, One Ireland One Vote is a strategy and not a slogan in that it first-off involves a campaign to put Irish Unity back on the agenda. That is a strategic goal of itself and one in which we have already enjoyed success, even where not immediately obvious (in their 26-county election manifesto the Shinners called for an 'island-wide referendum on Irish Unity' - in my opinion because our campaign is applying pressure on their position).

    The campaign in its own right then is important and will likewise have important outworkings, from helping to build an alternative narrative to the Good Friday Agreement to establishing an alternative vehicle for those who reject that Agreement or who might come to reject it. We are offering a political strategy that embodies opposition to Britain and her Treaties in line with the desire of the Irish people to live in peace. That to me is very important in all of this.

    That's just a cursory reply to your lateral question and far from the sum of my thinking. I can of course forward a fuller response in terms of how I see the campaign unfolding and where we hope to take it but it will have to wait until later - spuds to peel and that sort of thing.

    One thing that must be said at this point though is that the national will you speak of is for peace and does not translate into support for the Good Friday Agreement. We cannot say that as that Agreement was never put to the people - even Henry Joy concedes that with his claim that it 'effectively' translates. But even if it had been put to the people, that it was consciously framed to exclude their democratic preference would hardly qualify it as an embodiment of 'national will'.

    The national will is for Irish Unity and thus its exclusion as an option. Were it included then we all know the result that would have followed. So what we are dealing with is a process designed to exclude the democratic will, forwarding instead the veneer of democracy. We can dress this up as we choose and no doubt it has proven effective but an honesy appraisal will admit this does not equate to self-determination. Dinner time boss, catch you later...

  11. Sean
    This 'national will' you talk about falls down because there are 2 nations on the island. There is no "nation". That fact has been accepted by a majority in both nations, and it has been decided that there will be no unity until accepted by both nations.

    How is OIOV going? How many have signed? I have not heard it mentioned on the TV, radio or in the street.

  12. Sean,

    that would not make it a strategy, more of a discourse. The strategy will form around the strategic actions taken to make it effective. So far I have seen nothing to indicate its strategic potential.

    Sinn Fein always called for an all Ireland referendum so don't fool yourself that the Skibereen Eagle watching the Shinners caused it to move. The Shinner limitations are all too evident. It is a discourse not a strategy.

    The strategic question that has not been addressed is how to make it happen. How is this referendum to be first agreed to, agreed by who, implemented by who? It does absolutely nothing to address the question of partition other than talk about it.

    It sounds very like whistling while walking past the graveyard of republicanism.

    I don't think the campaign is important at all. I think it is irrelevant. And I don't say that as a put down but as an observation on its effectiveness.

    The national will is for peace which means it is against war. If the national will is to be defended it must therefore be defended against war. The national will is also for partition until such times as unity can be brought about by consent of the people in the North. A national preference is not a national will.

    The 1998 referenda were for an outcome that was partitionist. The GFA was merely the political shell for the partition willed by the people. It did not have to be put to the people - even though it was put in a refracted way - for the partitionist bedrock in which it anchored to be regularised. People knew that a yes vote on either side of the border would endorse partition. It was not exactly hidden from them.

    If you really think there is no widespread support for the GFA North and South you are not living on the same planet as me. As an opponent of the GFA I still have to concede that has more support than any other arrangement for the North.

    Henry Joy is right because "effectively translates" is the realpolitik of the matter. "I affirm" effectively translates as "I agree" even of we insist the speaker did not actually say "I agree" - it certainly does not mean I dissent.

    We can reasonably assume that if there was a referendum the people would express a preference for unity but they would also qualify that preference by allowing the North to sat out until such times as it agrees to come in. I think we can also assume that the bulk of people on the island will oppose coercion as a means of getting the North in.

    So whether the referendum is held in two parts or one the result is going to be the same: unity yes but not by coercion. In other words partition. There is absolutely nothing to indicate otherwise.

    This is what makes the OIOV a waste of time and energy. It is what has rendered republicanism a failed entity that crashed against the wall of partition. I don't like it in the slightest but not much I can do about it.

  13. Sean,

    The 'One Ireland One Vote' campaign, how are going to try to conduct it? How would it be anything other than a flaccid plebiscite?

    Conducting an island wide vote is still ignoring the reality of partition, surely you must realize this?

    " (in their 26-county election manifesto the Shinners called for an 'island-wide referendum on Irish Unity' - in my opinion because our campaign is applying pressure on their position)."

    Eh? Surely the Shinners have been calling for this for decades?

  14. Sean, what you have described, in my view, is the true core principle of Irish republicanism, has been for centuries and is a truly honourable and more importantly truthful position for yourself and the society's to take.
    However I think the problem arises, when people say the Irish people have not expressed their opinion on the border without interference. I think that's disingenuous. The Free State has not only been oblivious to the plight of Northern Nationalists , In their despicable lack of action in protecting their own citizens they have actually embraced Illegal occupation/partition.
    They signed their treaty and they're happy enough! Fcuk everybody else! But You can't seriously say they hav'nt expressed their wishes. Sure didn't your woman Doherty TD (east Meath? I could be wrong) express the views of a lot of Staters "you's brought it on yourselves " says it all really !
    (Her photos got to go up on the dartboard along with Maggies!)
    Be careful what you wish for. If a referendum took place tomorrow I wouldn't be surprised if it ended like the Scottish one and they reject unity outright !

  15. The Shinners have acceded to the principle of consent Steve, so no, they have not been calling for an all-Ireland referendum for years. I don't believe they do so so now but that they make the claim, regardless of their actual position, to present a facade to their supporters that they're still engaged in a United Ireland campaign. If our efforts achieve nothing more than to make them argue for Irish Unity then it is not without success. They forgot about unity yet now it is back on their radar, chiefly because they have a credibility issue in the part of the world where I'm from, where they traditionally could count on support for their varying initiatives, support that was and is important to their campaign. They can do so no longer and thus hope the tide can be turned. They are wasting their time but regardless, it shows how campaigns as our own can impact in ways you might least expect

  16. I hear what you're saying Spike but I'd still maintain the 1998 Agreement was not ratified by an act of popular will, no matter how anyone 'effectively' views it. There was no actual referenda on the Agreement never mind a referendum. And that remains so regardless of the wider point about the process being contrived to shape a specific outcome - to thwart the democratic will rather than allow it to proceed. Britain controlled the entire process and rejected the modest proposals of Albert Reynolds in advance of the Downing Street Declaration. What happened is that British power, upheld as ever by force, dictated to the Irish what was or was not on the table. The negotiations to follow were anything but; everything that mattered was already decided in the Framework Document which the Brits drew up unilaterally. What the Irish themselves actually wanted was ruled out by those with no democratic title in this country.

  17. Sean,

    it matters not that SF have rolled over in the face of consent in terms of their calling for an all Ireland referendum. They have long called for it. Where they differ is that they have also called for a Northern one as if that was gong to decide anything.

    Do they really need to present a façade to their supporters? Do their supporters really care? If SF were to stage a march down the Falls Road proclaiming Bobby Sands a criminal and demanding that Israel bomb Gaza, I would not be surprised that they did so but only surprised if their supporters did not turn up in their droves. And being bussed in from Tyrone and elsewhere.

    They lose credibility roughly in proportion to the loss of strength of those they lose credibility with. It doesn't really matter if all of the Tyrone former prisoners don't support SF: the moment has passed when they could have done something about it. But many from Tyrone helped drive the strategy that shafted republicanism. If they lose credibility where it matters for them you will see it in the electoral returns.

    If it was not for your contributions to TPQ how many of us would know anything about OIOV? I never hear a thing about it other than what I pick up via yourself. It is not making any impact that I can see. Partition functions is such a way as to severely limit the impact of such campaigns.


    I think it is wrong to describe partition as illegal. It is very legal and its legality poses republicans a major problem. Being legal does not make it either good, right or just. This is why we are often warned never to allow the law to shape morality. Imagine it really was illegal: that would be some boost to a campaign like OIOV. Legal is just something lawmakers determine. Justness is determined by something broader. How to make it illegal is another strategic question that is ignored by the claim that partition is illegal because in that perspective it requires no strategic action to render it illegal as it already is.

    I think you are right - the Irish people have very much expressed their will. They have endorsed partition. When faced with the bottom line question which must be asked first rather than have the can kicked down the road, they will almost certainly not opt for coercion of the North. And that question is does the North come in by coercion or consent? If it is not by consent how is coercion to be applied? And whatever answer we come up with we can rest assured that no matter how it is applied it will make the situation much worse than it is. As Sean said people vote for peace. They are not going to vote for war, the ultimate means of coercion.

  18. Sean,

    the problem with the argument makes it itself more clear. It is formulaic. And arguments even if right that have to go formulaic to be explained have little chance of making headway. Whether there was no actual wording like you say put to the voter in the referenda hardly matters when they knew it was a partitionist content they were voting for. The partitionist form was always going to follow. There could be no other. The argument starts to sound like the one the shills try to make for Adams when he denies being in the IRA: he wasn't sworn in. Forget the formulaic and address the strategic.

    The democratic will was not thwarted: it was facilitated, albeit in a way that we frowned on. There was no democratic will for an all island referendum and rather than politically, as distinct from lazily abstain or alternatively take to the streets in protest, they came out in their thousands and willed the continuation of partition.

    Anyway, I am for Dublin here - talk later.

  19. Just in terms of what Peter has said, there are not two nations on the island of Ireland but two traditions, both of which are part of the Irish Nation. He also claims 'Northern Ireland is a recognised state' but again, this is wrong. The North is neither a state or a country but an artificial entity carved out of a country and attached to a state. The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland are states while Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales are countries. The North is neither and most certainly is not a nation in any sense of the word. I don't say that to be petty in any way, it's just the fundamental reality.

  20. OK Sean, going on from what AM said about coercion, what if OIOV is successful and the vote takes place. What if there is a majority for unity in the 32 but a clear majority against in the 6? How will you implement this united Ireland? By force? Our Wee Country has been internationally recognised for 100 years, how can you implement your 32 county republic against a clear majority in the north? You risk igniting more violence as the people of our country will see their democratic rights ignored. The people of Ireland want no more violence. For this reason it is clear to me and the other contributors here (by the looks of it) that OIOV is a waste of time at best.

  21. Peter, you seem to be saying we should bow to the threat of violence and that you would use force if needed to subvert the democratic will of the Irish people. The truth, indeed, is that you have done so already. Partition and the existence of 'our wee country' may be the current reality, I don't deny that. But it does not make any of what has passed in any way democratic. It is not democratic - no matter how real it may be - and no-one is obliged to accept otherwise.

    The principle of consent was established by force, through a 25-year long terrorist war waged by Britain against the people of Ireland, its purpose being to thwart the outworking of democracy. Sickening the people by violence and then offering them war or peace is not democracy - democracy does not involve duress and that holds true whether the Northern entity exists or not. That something exists does not automatically make it legitimate or democratic.

    On the matter of how we define the North, what country do you follow in the rugby? We can title the six-county area however we decide but it is not a state and will never be a country, thus indeed why the Dublin Government has a direct say in the Six Counties. This applies to no other part of the United Kingdom and the reason is because the world and his dog acknowledge the North is a part of a country called Ireland. But in truth we both already know this.

    One Ireland One Vote is not for me a waste of time as it puts an alternative narrative and an alternative argument into the public domain. It stands in opposition to the establishment narrative and offers a critique of its democratic bona fides. That to me makes it a worthwhile venture but we should acknowledge at this point that the Societies are not a single-issue campaign group and this is only one part of what we are about and what we do, even if it forms the centre-point of our strategic analysis.

    The policy and the argument will be there for when the people are prepared to row in behind it. It's our job to encourage them to do so in the time ahead. So the purpose is twofold: to serve as a 'holding position' in a challenging time for republicanism, as it seeks to rebuild from a shattering strategic defeat; and to give a home to those still intent on the new phase promised but never delivered. One Ireland One Vote offers an alternative political direction to administering partition rule for the enemy. For that reason alone there is merit in the campaign.

  22. Ok Peter,

    So the 16-ers hold a OIOV and the majority voted in favour of a UI then what you said about the vote split in the O6C again doesn't add up.

    Here is another classic from you..

    "You risk igniting more violence as the people of our country will see their democratic rights ignored. "

    They would have exercised their democratic right to vote or not. And as democrats accept the outcome of the vote.

    While I have your attention can you explain to me again what an 'Irishman who is an economic unionist' is exactly.

    Reads like a cross between a west Brit and a whore... I mean it really reads like you will sell you nationality to the higest bidder while claiming to be Irish.

  23. A Shéain,
    On a point made by Mackers:
    But for your contribution to TPQ - facilitating an
    on-line platform/workshop - OIOV would not even be debated.
    The Societies website, excellent as it is, does not offer
    the same discussion. Rather it appears to be a closed shop
    for the initiated, not a digital workshop for controversial
    and necessary debate. Very different from Clonoe/Coalisland
    website years ago.
    Democratic will -+ preference, logical in essence amounted
    to the same thing. A choice between war and peace is not choice
    and stating the obvious is not a strategy.
    Neglecting to explain the material gains to be experienced by the
    (which?) social forces you hope to attract is not a strategy.
    Relying on the TPQ for open OIOV discussion while not providing
    one is an obstacle to many who may not be expows. We need to expand
    the on-line forum.
    Mise le meas.

  24. AM , I got ya! I was using the term 'illegal occupation ' in a colonial/historical sense, not in any modern legal terms.
    I certainly wasn't inferring that it could be used to justify an insurrection!
    I think the best hope for the 1916 societies is to basically be a pain in the arse to those who want to re-write history. If that's all they achieve and nobodys gets hurt in the process, then fair play!

  25. Sean
    I know you don't accept NI or partition and I am not saying that you have to, I am saying that it is a reality and there is nothing the societies or any other micro group can do about it. Your grand phrase "strategic analysis" is not worth a damn because a very large majority on the island have accepted that we will not be pushed into a UI against our will. You are wasting your time at best. As the name of your group suggests you are harping back to a time that is now well past, I agree with HJ that it is quite sad. You should be spending your time building bridges so when a NI poll does happen it will be less fractious.
    You didn't answer my question on how it was going so maybe you could answer this one: how many of the new TDs in the 26 have signed OIOV?

  26. Sean,

    I think Peter asked how you were going to implement the results of a OIOV, assuming the 26 were 4 and the 6 were not?

    Its an important question.

  27. Steve, should such be the outworking then I'd like to see some form of 'Constituent Assembly' follow on directly, where future governmental arrangements for a New All-Ireland Republic would be negotiated, themselves to be put in turn to the people in a National Plebiscite.

    It should be noted here that in an all-Ireland referendum there would be no six and twenty-six county constituencies to analyse the vote - there would only be the one constituency. So whether people in the Six Counties were for it or not ultimately doesn't matter. What would be important and what would matter is that we all of us respect the democratic will of the people and work together from there-in.

    As I don't know who or what TD's have thus far signed the petition I can't comment on it, except to say it matters more to me how many people sign it and not who they are or what position they might hold. This is a citizens' initiative rather than one that defers to the existing establishment and its institutions. We want the people's voice to be heard. Thousands have signed already in Derry City alone and that's in one estate where the local cumann has been active. The same applies in Dublin and Tyrone. Beyond that I can't give more information at the present time but no doubt I can get it on to you as and when I get it myself.

    Kevin, good point but to administer a website in that manner is a big undertaking. Which is why we should be thankful to Anthony for his willingness to give us all this platform. I for one am always greatful regads the same.

  28. Sean,

    how is this all going to happen? Who is going to organise the referendum? What leverage is there to bring it about? It sounds like SF economics - great until it comes to costing. And then there is that question of coercion? How do you get the North to come in? What agency will be licenced to use coercion and who will issue the licence? Has this idea really been thought through?

  29. Peter,

    The 16-ers have never said they will force a UI down anyone throats. They have always said.. Put the Q of a UI to the test, all thirty two counties. Nothing more or less.

    Sean is very vocal...but has never said he would force anyone to vote one way or the other.

    What'd this about.. "As the name of your group suggests you are harping back to a time that is now well past,"

    What past? Before partition...?

    So everyday we watch countries putting back border controls to protect their local natives while Europe implodes and you can't figure things out.

    You are an economic unionist Peter. Go an ask some local unionist farmers about how the war in the Ukraine is affecting their business directly because of a war in Syria that unionist farmers had fcuk all to do with.

    Then come back and I will explain how everyone in Ireland can be debt free and economic tourists pay..

  30. Anthony,

    'A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself!'

    I think this piece should have been entitled, 'The Myth of Sisyphus'. Better that you make like Camus and leave the chap at the foot of his mountain. 'The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart.' One must imagine Sean happy.

  31. To me our strategy is clear. We use the petition as the mainstay of a broader campaign, whose intent is twofold:

    1. To highlight through the campaign itself the undemocratic nature of partition and its violation of Irish sovereignty;

    2. To afford the Irish people a means to exercise national self-determination in line with the Republican Constitution.

    The latter point is where more detail, yes, is needed but it should see the work we do in the first stage evolve into a focused effort to establish an actual all-Ireland referendum. Our thinking is that some form of 'constitutional convention', where all interested parties, individuals and focus groups can decide together through open and democratic discussion the relevant matters at hand, should be the instrument which determines the mechanics of any referendum process. Accordingly, the people will be the guarantor of the process and it is the Irish people who will afford its outcomes legitimacy, both in their direct participation in the convention and in their eventual vote in the referendum to follow. The timing of this will likewise be down to the people, for it is they who must want it in the first instance. That they might not at this moment, as some have argued, only means we must work harder to effect the required change. This can be done, of that there's no doubt in my mind.

    And for me that's not the end either. We should be willing to commit to a process that derives from a 'Yes Vote' where a Constituent Assembly determines a new political framework that is then put to another vote, this time a 'plebiscite'. That is a strategy to restore the Republic, no matter how credible or incredible it might appear to others. And when all's said and done, all of it will have been licensed by the people in line with their democratic wants, through their legitimate right to self-determination. To speak of coercion is to admit there are those who might use force to resist the will of the people. To bow to that and say we should thus not proceed is to empower force over the democratic process. We are not talking about using force, we are intent on allowing the democratic will of the people to proceed.

  32. Sean,

    it gets no clearer. Still looks more like a discourse than a strategy. There is nothing in it that would entice me to think it worthwhile expending time or energy on.

    It seems you are uncomfortable about the implications or addressing them directly. What happens when the North refuses to come in? Shall it be allowed to stay out? If not how is it to be brought in? Far too much remains unexplained for this to qualify as a strategy.

  33. Robert,

    Camus - a great writer.

    Even while it might appear convoluted to the rest of us, it is a standard republican belief. We can either leave it to be self referential or we can engage it in some hope that it will cross fertilise with wider trends and adopt accordingly.

  34. A Shéain,
    When a person steps outside a comfortable position and argues a cause as you do, that person is automatically at the coalface.
    Deliberate or not, on the TPQ, on your postings, you appear to me as the vocal point of the Societies and it is a lonely road - pup for the path and dog for the hard road.
    Financially, such a website, is costly. This I understand. What I don't understand is why you should take so much flack on your own arguing a cause many believe to be correct, yet it is you who sticks his head above the water. Maith thú.
    I cannot recommend to the Societies to build a website to facilitate debate, but thanks to Mackers' I have a digital say I don't otherwise have.
    I am paye, my friends are likewise,some agricultural labours, some small family farmers, none untouched personally by what happened in this country.
    Its not that we do not believe, we need to see the menu before we order.
    Arís le meas ,Caoimhín.

  35. Anthony, I don't see where you find my discomfort. I would imagine that a Constituent Assembly can address the issues you raise, helping resolve the fears of the unionist community by determining together with the unionists agreed structures for a new Ireland - thus disposing of the 'unionist backlash' you seem so fearful of. The minority tradition should be afforded protection in any new arrangements but not a veto over progress as you suggest.

  36. Sean,

    that makes it less plausible. It has the feel of straws being clutched at. A constituent assembly is not a magic wand that is going to transform the unionists. In the run up to the GFA Paul Bew tackled the issue of SF's claim to be seeking an agreed Ireland. He made the point an agreed Ireland cannot by definition be a united Ireland because the unionists will not agree. Same problem here and you don't chart a way out. So we are none the wiser as to how the referendum is to be organised. Who has responsibility for making it happen in the North? What do you do when the North refuses to go in? You have told us nothing.

    I fear a unionist backlash as much as I fear spiders from Mars. There is not going to be anything for them to lash back at. OIOV poses absolutely no threat to the union and seems something to keep republicans busy but not effective. Outside of a blog or two nobody seems to know much about it. The unionists exchanging ideas with you about it seem wholly unconcerned. They know the union is safe.

  37. Mackers,
    Camus, a strange fella?
    Sisyphus A Great Myth, my gods, what do we speak about?

  38. Mackers,
    Sharp teeth and always bites, not really discussing why the IRB did not trust the volunteers 1914. Again you make the point, no agreement possible. Always ignoring the obvious. Everything must have a democratic voice......even the most reactionary of trade unions do not have a democratic voice.

  39. That the Union is safe is hardly my doing Anthony. At the time of the referendum, despite being still in my teens, I was able to see what was going on and argued the point. I seen it before the negotiating had even begun - that it could only end one way - only to be told there was no reason to panic. I was told 'if we go into Stormont you'll not have to worry about leaving - we'll all be leaving'. When the time came that soon changed. That I could see where it would end at eighteen years of age means there is no excuse for those with seniority who couldn't. They must have known unless they were clean stupid.

    When I argued against Good Friday I was told we had given 25 years to the armed struggle and should give the leadership a chance. I did but for me the last straw was when they started the intimidation against yourself. I can't pretend to know how you suffered but I can relate to an extent. I'll never forget how isolated I felt during the 20th anniversary commemoration for the Hungerstrikes. Bus loads with my friends among them headed to Casement Park while I stayed at home on my own. Persona non grata. When Spirit of Freedom played in a local bar I went with my uncle, to be cast by former comrades as 'a real'.

    Indeed it is never lost on me that some of those I argued with - explaining the shortcomings of that agreement and what the leadership were really engaged in - what they'd done to you and others - in later years and having since reversed their position tried to tell me it was incumbent on me to hate Sinn Fein. I don't hate Sinn Fein, I just don't agree with their policies, but some can't accept that. If they'd accepted what I said at the time maybe things would be different but who listens to a jumped up kid when others tell you what to think and how to act and you're only too glad to accept everything they say.

    I digress. As for strategy itself it seems obvious we now require a democratic struggle from below, with the people included on every step of the journey. There are no shortcuts. We have seen from the tremendous example of the Catalans that a referendum-based strategy can make an impact. Where they are at now as compared to their position at the outset of their campaign shows we should not be unduly worried that we still have much to do.

    I think our immediate focus should remain on the petition and encouraging as many as we can to put their name to it. That's the hard work on the ground but we must also be better at networking and making alliances with those who share our goals and interests. When we reach a critical mass, when all of this coalesces and feeds the demand for change, then we move to the constitutional convention. It is there where the specifics of the referendum - who will run it, how it will be run, who can vote etc - will be finalised and agreed.

    It's all there on paper but as has been pointed out by Peter, it's academic when you struggle to break the glass ceiling that comes with the turf when working beyond the establishment. There is no other way than to put the shoulder to the wheel. The Union may be safe for now but nothing lasts forever and nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. I for one will not just go home to my bed, not when so many have given everything for it to end like this. This is my last comment for tonight and thanks for the probing (as much as I'd love to swing by and give you a good shake!)

  40. Sean,

    As far as the Unionists are concerned they would view a OIOV as illegal and as absolutely nothing to compel them to do otherwise.

    As I have said before, they are not likely to give up a big say in Westminster to scramble around for 20% say in a UI or even a 50% say in an 'Ulster Assembly'. They would just laugh at the notion of an Ireland-wide vote as being inherently rigged against them anyway, why would they change the status quo?

    OIOV does absolutely nothing for Unionists and will be ignored regardless. There is nothing in it for them, certainly not enough to surrender their 'Britishness'.

    Ignoring partition and attempting to hold an Ireland wide vote while you criticized voter turn-out for the GFA/REF is odd too.

    The ONLY way a UI is possible is through building up trust between the communities. Saying your going to have a OIOV on the border will be viewed as threatening by the Unionists....IF they take it seriously, that is.

  41. Steve,

    unionists regarding something as illegal would not make it such. To argue that OIOV would be illegal is the flip side of republicans arguing that partition is illegal. At that point it starts to sound like the two bald men arguing over a comb.

    OIOV as a referendum could be legally conducted and unionists could if they so choose ignore the legalist of it by boycott. It would not be an act of civil disobedience per se as it would not be in contravention of any law.

    It is most unlikely to happen because nothing has been laid out showing us hot it might happen, how any OIOV might be legislated into being. We have no idea if as part of their campaign OIOV will seek election to the Dail and Stormont (participation in the latter seems extremely unlikely to figure in their plans at this point).


    that the union is under threat is not your fault but at the same time your alternative leaves far too much unaddressed to allow for the faintest possibility that the status of the union might be attenuated. I sense you will think about all the objections and criticisms raised here and that they will figure in discussions with your colleagues. That is no bad thing.

    It can be very frustrating to think you are onto a good plan of battle only to find that at first point of contact with the opposition it no longer runs as smoothly. It is whether you learn from the exchanges that ultimately matters. I doubt very much your argument holds up but you acquitted yourself well in terms of level headedness which is crucial if you are to have your ideas listened to.

    The IRA fought for a British declaration of intent and ended up through the GFA settling for a British declaration of intent to stay on precisely the same terms they had previously stayed. Those that pushed it were either consciously complicit in endorsing a British state strategy that was designed with the strangulation of the IRA campaign in mind (the British did not care if the IRA remained marching up and down the Falls Road describing itself as the undefeated army) or their Calcium P deficiency was so strong they had no politics and relied on a trust the leadership mantra. And when they all dropped their trousers and bent over for a royal rogering, when we told them they were being screwed right up the jaxy, their response: No, the big Lad has said he is curing our piles and we believe him.

    And that is the long and the short of it.

    Nothing last forever, indeed, including concepts of nations and indeed nations themselves. Nations are just things people use to politically organise themselves through. If they chose some other form, and over time they will, I am fine with that.

    You could do much worse than go back to the drawing board.

    You say you don't understand what we suffered but in reality you do, because the greatest "suffering" was in realising it had all been for nothing; that those who were giving direction always had an eye on their political careers and shaped events to enhance their careers. So, yourself included had to suffer that. The rest was uncomfortable for us but at least it was compensated for by the enormous Voltairean satisfaction of having spoken our minds.

  42. Sean
    You said, "So whether people in the Six Counties were for it or not ultimately doesn't matter". There we have the short and tall of it, you want to finish what the Provos started and get a victory. The Irish people will not allow that.

    I am assuming some independent TDs have signed OIOV, do you have the numbers?

  43. AM

    I know that, but I am making the point that that Unionists would never acquiesce to such a poll and would 'view' it as illegal . Sean seems to either willfully ignore partition or be incapable of grasping that point.

    Simply saying 'too bad' to the Unionists is madness when they hold all the cards.

  44. Steve,

    look at it another way - I argued in the jail that unity by consent is partition by coercion: that unionists decide to coerce a number of Irish citizens to live within a statelet that they oppose. Is it alright for unionists to use coercion against a smaller body but not okay for a bigger body to use coercion against them?

    I am not arguing for coercion but I think the question being posed invites us to reflect further.

  45. Steve, Peter,

    Both of you talk about what if the majority of the PUL-ers vote against a UI in a OIOV and how do their rights be protected etc if a UI came about etc..

    Then what about the Bretix vote. Imagine the majority of PUL-ers decided to stay in Europe (farming subsidies, peace money project's..) but the majority within the UK decided to pull out because of the immigration crisis etc..

    Does the UK gov pander to the PUL-ers and say " Ok, you lot voted to stay within, so you are part of Europe but the rest of the UK isn't"...?

  46. AM

    These days is coercion by force a reality?

  47. Coercion is at the heart of our daily life. Break a red light or drive on the wrong side of the road and see whether the state will coerce you into not doing it or allow you to carry on and do it in your own time.

    Coercion is one of the big realities of our existence and has been with us since the dawn of time.

    From a northern nationalist perspective they have routinely been on the receiving end of coercion.

    Can the North be coerced into the unity? Yes. But at what price? No just war theory would ever approve it. The good brought about would not compensate for the harm caused along the way.

    And ultimately we are left with the question of what we opt for - obligatory nationalism or the right to dissent from the nation.

    I came to the conclusion some time ago that there is no short cut to a united Ireland. Republicanism has failed to answer the question of partition. We may as well pray for an end to it for all the effect it will have.

  48. I'm glad that finally we see an admission from at least one of those arguing against the article that coercion was a factor in bringing about the Good Friday Agreement. That it was the method used to force northern nationalists into the six-county statelet, in defiance of the democratic will of the people, can hardly be disputed and that it was the method used likewise to keep them there is true also. That they in time came to vote for the Good Friday Agreement is because they wanted peace and had been sickened by the violence, much of which we now know was directed at various levels by the state to achieve that end.

    Surely if we admit coercion we admit the vote took place under duress. That's hardly democracy in action, regardless of the technical debate around what constitutes a referendum or whether the Agreement was technically put to a vote. Either way, it was a contrived vote and it took place under duress: the purpose being to thwart the democratic will of the people. If people are so confident it is the democratic will of the people then put it to a meaningful referendum. Drop the bullshit and have the vote. To argue we shouldn't because the unionist community will react violently is to bow to the threat of force. Again, where democracy comes into that I don't know.

    Whether One Ireland One Vote is achievable or not, whether partition is permanent or republicanism finished, it doesn't alter that the arrangements we have today are not in fact democratic but the opposite: they are a reflection of the triumph of force over the democratic process. That it was their force that won the day does not change anything. Regardless, the right of the Irish to self-determination remains. That some have given up and are now where the Brits want them, supporting the legitimacy of what they have done and seconding the notion it is democratic, does not oblige others to concur. Times will always change and when they do republicanism will be there, where it will be needed, as will I. If it takes generations more we will be there.

  49. Sean,

    somewhere in there is an implicit acknowledgement of the strategic irrelevance of republicanism.

    Argument by reiteration is not going to change people's views. Too few people believe they were forced into voting in a certain way. They had the option of not voting at all. In the North they voted for the GFA, in the South they gave their vote to a constitutional change required to make the GFA possible. They all knew what it was they were voting. And they definitely voted against any attempt to coerce the North into a unitary state.

    They seem to have voted in line with John V. Kelleher's 1954 statement on partition that a political problem is rarely solved by those who ‘tend to see it as it first existed and not as time and society continually refashion it … the history of the problem is nearly irrelevant to its solution.…’

    Taken in conjunction with former SF President and Vice President Father Michael Flanagan's statement that "Geography has worked hard to make one nation out of Ireland; history has worked against it. The island of Ireland and the national unit of Ireland simply do not coincide. In the last analysis the test of nationality is the wish of the people" republicanism has a seemingly insurmountable task ahead of it.

    I see no answer whatsoever but if you feel you do you are wholly right to put it forward while others have an equal right to dissent from it.

    Other than that I don't know if much more can be said.

    I think for republicans to let go of the notion that republicanism can achieve unity is on a par with creationists having to accept the concept of evolution. The emotional leap is massive, but what else can we do in the face of such evidence?

  50. What else can we do? We wait and prepare for more fruitful times, we don't concede defeat but keep alive the flame. No-one can predict the course of history and none of us know how things will change. Events, dear boy, events. No matter our relevance, or lack of, to contemporary society it's important we don't see our current position as permanent. Huge damage has been done to the republican project, I don't deny that, but yet there are signs of recovery. I see One Ireland One Vote as a campaign that can appeal to ordinary people and something we can build over time. In the interim it provides a vehicle to preserve the republican position, allowing us to hold our ground without doing further damage.

    Much of the lateral conversation on the thread here speaks about coercing the North but it's not the North we should be thinking of. It's Britain we should be thinking of and Britain who would need coerced if required, whether through appeal to the international community or whatever. Much of the above shows how successful she has been at impressing the false narrative the problem is 'two warring tribes' in Ireland. The problem is Britain and always has been.

    A successful One Ireland One Vote referendum could be used as a means to achieve a British withdrawal, not an instrument to empower coercion of the Ulster Protestants. At that point the unionists, having had their crutch removed (which they don't need in the first place), would surely join with the rest of us in a Constituent Assembly to get a fair deal for themselves and their people. We're not interested in winning anything but in creating a better Ireland for all, including the Ulster Protestants. That might be hard for some to believe but that is the reality of our position.

  51. Sean,

    it's not the North we should be thinking of

    the ruinous flaw in all republican strategy.

    It is the North because were the North not insistent on being part of the UK, the Brits would likely clear off. It is a long time since territorial acquisition was required for imperialism to work even if you believe Britain remains in Ireland for imperialist reasons.

    How might the Brits be coerced?

    Are we to read into the latest comment that the strategy is not to unite Ireland but to get the Brits to leave? Does that leave the North independent? The problem of a fracturing of the national unity that so concerns you would still exist as would the veto.

    That is likely to appeal to the electorate down here even less than a proposal to unite the country. The most likely response from the South will that the area where the Brits exist should decide when they want them to go.

    Good luck with floating the idea even though I think it is a lead balloon.

  52. Anthony, it seems you've bought the narrative the Brits are only here because of the unionists, with no selfish, strategic or economic interest. But just because someone says something does not make it true. That statement by Peter Brooke is as believable as the claim by Adams he was never in the IRA. That aside, in terms of who or what would coerce the Brits we can say the democratic will of the people would see to that. Should they reject that by violence then people, as always, would have the right to defend themselves, if and where necessary. Do you suggest they would not?

    In an international order defined by the right to self-determination a refusal by Britain to acknowledge ours would be seen for what it is. Should they use force to frustrate our legitimate rights and the outworking of democracy then the international community would have to become involved. Britain then is the problem and not the Ulster Protestant community, regardless that most in its number would like to be part of the United Kingdom. If the United Kingdom can't have them they will work out their future with the rest of us. They have nothing to fear but fear itself. I look forward to the day we work together in the New Ireland, where peace and justice finally reign. I hope I live to see it, I really do.

  53. Sean,

    long before Peter Brooke opened his mouth myself and Micky McMullan were in print suggesting a republican reappraisal of British strategic interests by examining the degree to which unionist autonomy determined British state policy and presence. There seemed no strategic value in holding onto the place. I have not seen a persuasive argument yet that the Brits have any interests in Ireland that need protected by a physical presence. Partition seemed not to be the preferred British state option at the time of the Treaty but a coalition of the unionists and Cumann na nGaedheal.

    Irish people have a right to defend themselves but so does every people. Do the Irish people have the right to defend themselves against the use of armed force in their name but neither mandated nor willed by them? And what form of defence would you uphold?

    What would the democratic will of the people decide in relation to the Brits? Are we to assume that the hypothetical referendum paper will ask people that if the Brits don't abide by the outcome of the referendum that it will be alright to use armed force to get rid of them? I can't see why not given that if the democratic will of the people will see to the coercion of the Brits, then the people would need to be asked if coercing the Brits out is what they democratically will.

    That makes any referendum even more unlikely ever to take place. People don't vote for war. And I guess people will see the referendum as a veil behind which some justification will be found by somebody for armed activity.

    The proposal of OIOV will sound even more unappetising than it did before you wrote the piece.

    The international order defined by self determination recognises the right of the North to self determine. The international community approves the GFA and partition. And given that you have told us nothing about how the OIOV referendum might be organised or by who, we can safely assume it will never happen. Who will organise the OIOV referendum? I have no idea and you seem no closer to telling us. If it is democratic perhaps it is time you told the demos how it is to happen.

    Why would the international community get involved in response to a referendum which nobody seems able to explain how it will take place? As the international community supports the right of the North to self determine why would it usurp the right it bestows on the North to suit some referendum that no one seems able to explain how to make it happen.

    This is the state of republicanism: it can make nothing happen.

    I seriously think you need to go back to the drawing board rather than persist in making a case that looks more implausible by the comment. Do you genuinely think for a second the Unionists see either threat to the union or potential to change its terms emerging from OIOV? Were I a unionist I would be exceedingly content knowing all I had to worry about was OIOV. What I would worry about from their perspective is that somebody out there might only want such a vote for the purpose of ignoring the democratic will of the people and resort to another futile armed campaign. But that is also something the Irish people have to fear from a referendum: their will be denied by somebody claiming to speak on their behalf.

  54. So you do then agree that the British are here for benign reasons. As free as you are to believe that Anthony for me it holds no water. Their strategic interest in Ireland is to prevent her pursuing independent development, upholding the so-called 'Washington Consensus' and keeping us within their orbit. They are also intent on maintaining the territorial integrity of the wider UK entity. Indeed we should see devolution from that perspective as opposed to anything relating to the peace process.

    I wonder do you likewise believe, as the trolls on social media so gleefully point out, erroneously, that they bailed out the Irish economy also due to a benign and fraternal purpose we might attribute them? The reason I ask is because both matters are linked. The British did not help bail out the Free State economy out of the goodness of their health just as they do not occupy the Six Counties for the good of their health. In both instances the purpose is to protect their own interests.

    On force. If the British use force against the Irish people then they have the right to defend themselves. There is nothing in that relating to what you mention about force being used in their name - that's not what I'm advocating and nor is it what I've said. So it has nothing to do with me and is a conversation you should have with those it concerns. You say people don't vote for war but no-one is asking them to that I'm aware of.

    But if your suggestion is that the British will respond with war then in that instance we would have the right to defend ourselves. It's also implicit to your logic that we should not proceed in case they make war against us. As I've says throughout, to concede to that is to empower force over democracy. But when all's said and done it's you who speaks of war and not me. I'm saying the democratic argument will prevail.

    Despite your claims to the contrary I have indeed told how and by whom the referendum would be organised. The petition, alongside alliances forged with progressive elements in society, can empower a constitutional convention once sufficient support has been garnered and critical mass achieved. Such a convention would be the appropriate body to organise the referendum as it would be wider than the 1916 Societies and stem from the people themselves.

    We can provide the necessary forum if required but equally should be prepared to engage in the same should others develop it, providing it remain transparent, inclusive and committed to the unabridged exercise of national self-determination. That will all come when the people demand it. Our campaign is to encourage and facilitate that demand. Yes there is work to be done but as I said previously, we need look no further than Catalonia to see how a democratic struggle from below can come from nowhere to build up unstoppable momentum.

  55. Sean,

    again you really need to read what is said as distinct from misreading.

    I at no point said they were here fro benign reasons. Raison d'état shaped by the politics of "realism" (which is what I argued, rightly or wrongly, in my doctoral thesis was their real reason for being here) is always motivated by self interest and affairs of state. Kissinger was a great proponent of realism and raison d'état but he could hardly be described as benign.

    The point you miss is that the Brits don't need to be in Ireland physically to pursue their self interest. They can guaranteed as readily without that presence. It works all over the world. The theorists of neo-imperialism argue quite plausibly that territorial acquisition and retention are no a necessary feature of imperialism in the modern world.

    But all that is really a distraction.

    What I would like to know is how this referendum is to be put in place. We can discuss the finer detail of British self interest and strategy at another time. What would be most helpful right now is if you will explain how this referendum is to be set up. You are obviously not going to use a Red C poll so how therefore is it to be done?

    If nothing else you might use this whole exchange as a measure of where the gaps might be in this OIOV campaign. Having discussed it with you I am of a view you have not thought it through to the extent necessary to shift it from a slogan to a strategy. A strategy has to address strategic questions and you seem not to do this. I accept it can be very uncomfortable to have something you hold dearly scrutinised every which way and for it to be depicted as severely wanting. But if you are like everybody else here - using the blog to try out ideas rather than be held to account for what you say in the comments section, there is still a benefit to be obtained. The minds behind the OIOV campaign really need to step up to the plate and get their act together. If the campaign fails to hit a brick wall it will because it has not advanced any serious distance, rather than because there are no brick walls there. As an initiative it is in the foothills and appears not equipped for the ascent.

  56. I don't miss any such point Anthony and know full well how modern imperialism works. Neither is it a distraction and indeed it is fundamental to understanding what is happening in Ireland in terms of the peace process. Occupation in the contemporary sense does not require standing armies. It works best if those under occupation unwittingly serve as their own slave-master and as Frankie alluded to but never expanded on, the lynchpin of modern imperialism is the fiat monetary system backed up by the Washington Consensus and the Petrodollar.

    The partition of Ireland and the British sovereign claim speed that end - it is hardly as though their presence is overt and indeed that is the purpose of the current political arrangements. As I've said throughout, the goal is to present the facade of democracy in order to maintain selfish interests in all of Ireland and not just the North. This must appear as the outworking of democracy and not of imperialism. The strategic objective is to uphold the current order and maintain the territorial integrity of the wider UK entity. Devolution was more for this reason than for reasons relating to Ireland. It was about managing pressures on the UK state stemming from reemerging nationalist sentiment within its various regions.

    Shifting back to One Ireland One Vote and as I've said now a few times, we foresee some form of independent constitutional convention determining the specifics of the referendum and how it will be set up. Drawn from a cross-section of society and open to all interested parties, individuals and interest groups, it would determine how the referendum will be held, who can vote, its timing and all the rest of the concerns you raise.

    We intend that the campaign itself, centred on the petition but to include public meetings, test polls, marches etc, will build momentum towards that end. Building alliances and support for the initiative is also integral to our plans. Some great work is being done in the US at present and indeed we now have Sinn Fein and its acolytes briefing against us. That can only be a good thing as it means the proposal is being talked about but we're under no illusion in terms of what needs done. We will not though just quit.

    Don't forget we're only a small emerging group Anthony, pitted against the combined forces of reaction whose power is self-evident going by your own comments and the fact you admit to total defeat. As I've said a few times, to those who say it can't be done then take a look to what's going on in Catalonia. The incredible work they've done there and the position they have reached has grown out of a tiny campaign where likewise the naysayers told them you're wasting your time, it can't be done. They have proven otherwise and so must we.

  57. Before we continue I'd just like to say thanks for having the discussion in the first place. I only wish more would contribute but for me it has been worthwhile. You have ruthlessly exposed the shortcomings of our campaign as it stands and that to me is fair game. Some would have it your goal is to drag me into your defeat but that's not my view. My view is the opposite, that your intent is to force me to confront reality and determine on what needs done as a result, if we're to be 'more than a slogan' as you've referred to repeatedly. Respect as always a chara and go raibh míle maith agat.

  58. Sean,

    that's a bold claim: you know full well how imperialism works. A full blown economic system about which I know very little of its workings. Have you a doctorate in economics? I know a few who have who would not even venture to make such a claim. But it is of no relevance to the current issue at hand and seems an attempt to talk about everything but the specific mechanics of getting this referendum up and running.

    You forsee some form of constitutional convention. You can't waffle your way though Sean and hope to bunk in. Who would elect it? Or is it going to be appointed? Where would it sit? What decision making powers would it have and who would empower it and how? How would it implement the referendum in the North?

    The more you explain this the more I think of the Adams response to Michael McDowell's 2007 probing on his economic policy. Would it not be more credible to say you simply haven't a clue but are determined to take on board observations and begin finding out?

    My view? You have set out on this course with something that sounded good - a bit like Sinn Fein economics which amounts to more of this and that for him and her - but without the slightest idea of how to put it together, just a hope that something might turn up.

    I signed the petition when I was in Dublin with you but as I said to you on the day - like calling for the return of the Latin mass. Now I am even more convinced that the Latin mass has a better chance of success than this.

    I can think of a lot more worthwhile things to be doing with my time. I think you should apply your ability to something more productive, less grand, that is obtainable. But if you want to persist in that good luck. If it hurts nobody along the way it might actually keep some minds occupied who if it was not there might just prove injurious to their fellow citizens.

  59. Sean,

    you are more than welcome to be dragged into my defeat. No doubt amongst your critics will be those who helped engineer the defeat and now have the temerity to complain about it!

    I am not in the slightest convinced by your argument but you had the cojones to stick your head above the parapet and make it and in the course of doing so give us something to think about. In return you seem to grasp that it is not a simple matter of shouting "up the Republic" and expecting it to happen.

    You acquitted yourself well and persisted long after others would have clammed up. Don't look on its as a defeat for you or a victory for your critics. It was neither. Just an exchange on a blog where people chance their arm to practice their ideas and do not expect to be crucified forever and a day for what they said. Regard comments as unsworn testimony.

    You need to keep writing, keep trying your ideas, persist as you do. At least you can never be accused of believing in nothing. And of course, in the course of trial and error you don't know what might emerge.

    Fair play to you for coming here, standing on the soapbox and taking the flak. That alone takes courage and merits respect.

  60. This is an excellent debate and indeed an excellent article that stimulated it. Before I give my tuppence worth, what is OIOV?

    I do think the ideals of the 1916 societies and that Ireland has a right to self determination without direct influence from England. What is a fact is that this Ireland includes all the people, all religions and political beliefs. This diversity has to be factored into any strategy and I would say any ideal not including this questionable. For organisations, whether republican or loyalist to cloak themselves in partisan or sectarian flags, emblems, songs and history etc, is not inclusive or pluralistic and in the end it is divisive.

    I suppose some people may say that the men and women of 1916 were wrong to take up arms, that possibly they did not reflect the wishes of the people at the time. I don't hold this view Even though I would classify myself as a pacifist. That's for another debate. However, the point I was going to make about 1916. It took some 800 years of conquests, political, economical,military and religious repression but before the men and women took up arms in 1916. However, I would say that only Connolly had a strategy, self determination but uniting the working classes against all forms of repression whether religious, economic, political. I think in the hundreds year since that he has been vindicated.

    I also believe that irrespective of the GFA being established fact (less than 20 years) that it should not deter debate of the rights and wrongs. In the grand scheme of things 20 years means nothing. The facts about how GFA must be discussed and more importantly have to be unearthed and disseminated. As time goes on more and more unsavoury, bewildering, terrible political and I could even say evil revelations are surfacing especially about the time around the Good Friday Agreement. Unfortunately most people in Ireland are not aware of this. How do we inform the public because it is only through an enlightened public that a true consensus can be attained.
    Just to say a little on referendum or referenda. On the face of it a referendum sounds democratic and logical but it can be a double edged sword. It can give you the required result but on the other hand it can be counterproductive. It depends on many things and none more so than propaganda and influence.

  61. I'm not ducking out but have just returned from Mass and heading to Strabane for lunch with the family. The criticisms and observations are not only welcome Anthony, they are exactly what we need at this time. James, I would be willing to set something up if your group would like a presentation on One Ireland One Vote, or as some describe it in abbreviated form: OIOV. Alternatively you can send representation to an event we are hopefully organising shortly in Derry City. I'll return to this later and thanks again to those who contributed.

  62. Sean,

    if you have not ducked out before now, you are hardly going to at this stage. In any event, the questions have been raised and you have tried to address them. Don't despair because of the numerical strength of those opposed to you. An idea is not necessarily good merely because it is supported by a large number of people. When you walk the walk you will always find it harder than the person who tries to trip you up will find it. That is just the nature of discussion and critique. And to survive you just have to get used to it. People arguing with you or asking questions might not always be at odds with your view and could be practicing on you to test the strengths and weaknesses of their own perspective. It is what happens in online discussions.

    You don't have to be 100 per cent right but you try to move forward by being right more often than you are wrong. That allows for a big margin of error but progress is more often than not incremental. And if you fear error you will be dumbstruck and rooted to the spot in a permanent state of strategic sterility.

    So keep trying, use the probing of weaknesses by others to your advantage and turn it into a strength by incorporating what is useful to you into your campaign. Great heights are usually seen from standing on the shoulders of those you meet along the way even if they can't reach the same height. Use it all to your own advantage and the detriment of who you seek to politically thwart.

    I look forward to more pieces from you.

  63. All-in-all a useful debate. For me, the casual observer might learn from our discussion that the 1998 Agreement was contrived to exclude the national will of the Irish people. It reflects the 'realpolitik' from that time and not democracy in action, with the parameters of negotiation determined exclusively by Britain on the basis of the Framework Document - having already dismissed unilaterally the modest proposals of Albert Reynolds. All of this was empowered and acceded to because Britain possessed superior force.

    The result was that any agreement to emerge could only reflect the British proposals for what should happen Ireland - not what the Irish people wanted for and of themselves. Self-determination and democracy were only useful to the extent they were buzzwords used to disguise the true nature of the process and the agreement it spawned. That this was sold to the people as the only alternative to further violence tells us the vote was held under duress.

    Regardless of criticisms any might have of the OIOV campaign they do not alter the fundamentals above. The reason this is important is not so we can have a whinge or stamp or feet but because the undemocratic nature of what has transpired needs understood so a full act of self-determination can follow. A contrived vote held under duress and with different questions being asked on either side of an imposed border is not national self-determination and nor is it in any way democratic. Indeed it represents the triumph of force over democracy.

  64. I don't doubt your conviction Sean, but you offer nothing to tempt Unionists, curiously you seem to redefine them as 'Ulster Protestants' to sidestep the issue of their 'Britishness'.

    Partition is the reality, and accepted by the vast majority in the north ( I also voted against the GFA). I doubt voters in the south will want unification via the north's coercion either.

    But go for your life, as long as armed action is not a consequence, it can't hurt to try.

    Good luck and be well.


    Article 3.1
    It is the firm will of the Irish Nation, in harmony and friendship, to unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland, in all the diversity of their identities and traditions, recognising that a united Ireland shall be brought about only by peaceful means with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island.

    And therein lay the fleece with all its democratic gloss which like imperial gerrymanders everywhere guarantees an undemocratic outcome so that a few British agents (15% of the island of Ireland’s population) get to determine all of Ireland’s fate forever in exchange for most of the rest getting to wish and aspire otherwise.

    Fact that a majority of Irish people voted for this imperial sanctioned arrangement is more a manifestation of subjugation or the Stockholm syndrome writ large like most people in Jonestown willing swilling the kool-aid. The fools, the fools!

    What Ireland needs is a D-Day invasion from its friends and allies, whoever they may be, to rid themselves of this Vichy State stench and its never ending rogues gallery of liars and thieves with their usual false choices of this collaborationist party or that collaborationist party.

    Until then there will be a United Korea, like a United Germany and a United Vietnam, before there will ever be a United Ireland given the double standard for the Brits in the West.

    So short of invasion or a mass awakening here look to the bigger island to democratically reform itself a la Jeremy Corbin because if ever there is a chance for genuine democracy to take hold it will be in England not Ireland because the English are by and large, like most people born of empire, a more condescending bunch who look askance at places like Jamaica and Ireland much like Americans look askance at Guam and Puerto Rico.

    And just as it will likely be Americans voting to free Puerto Ricans, it will likely be the English people themselves who will free and unite Ireland because they may want to and bloody well will even if the majority in Ireland should want otherwise because imperial occupation and rule is rarely a matter to be determined by the occupied and ruled.

    Hence the false GFA choice of: direct British rule or “indirect” British rule without the obvious other option (for Irish or English) of no British rule in Ireland. Such it is with democratic deficits in the EU and the UK.

    After all it wasn’t so much the Vietnamese that got rid of the Americans as it was the majority of Americans who finally rallied and got America out of Vietnam.

    As such since it was most of the Irish people who have willed partition into continuing, a better strategy might be for the 1916 Societies to also open branches in Manchester and Birmingham to encourage our abandonment since the current neo-liberal paradigm no longer requires territorial acquisition when drones will do.

    I recommend the slogan: “Punt the Paddies!” since it should touch a Brit bigot’s nerve and get out their vote forcing Parliament’s hand. In the meantime be grateful that you are not fooled by the machinations of this phony Irish Free State and do not encourage the usual suspects therein who are always lying and looting it.


  66. Owen Sullivan

    What Ireland needs is a D-Day invasion from its friends and allies, whoever they may be, to rid themselves of this Vichy State stench and its never ending rogues gallery of liars and thieves with their usual false choices of this collaborationist party or that collaborationist party. "

    So its a sectarian civil war bloodbath you are after? That's nice. And while you are having these grand dreams of English Imperialism remember this. Britain has no strategic interest in Ireland, and has wanted shot of the 6 counties for a very long time. The reason why it has no strategic interest in Ireland is because if it wanted to, it could militarily take over Ireland in about 10 minutes. And they are also a nuclear power so those 'friends' of Ireland better have a stock of sunblock 5 million handy, not that this delusion would ever happen.

    War never unites people either. In Vietnam, there was a hell of lot of retribution killings after the yanks bugged out.

    Here's a rather stupid idea, instead of dancing all around the Unionists and going to England and all over Ireland with the 1916 societies how about you engage with them?

  67. Nietzsche may have been essentially on the money when he stated 'that there are no moral events, only moral interpretations of events' . On the other hand though for society to function it depends on a moral narrative.
    Circumstances, the passage of time and shifting values influence the stories we collectively and individually tell ourselves and each other. History will tend to be revised in service of society's successful navigation of the moral matrix. Such narratives are not necessarily true stories; they are simplified and selective reconstructions of the past, often connected to an idealised vision of the future. Neither are they fixed over time, rather they compete for dominance and acceptance.

    I'd proffer that for most Irish people the, ever on the wane, 'Bad Bwits' narrative is so last century and those who hang onto it or hanker back to it appear increasingly as yesterday's men. Sean's attempted defence, though spirited and executed with unusual decorum, does nothing to arrest the pace of change from the old to the currently broadly accepted narrative of consensual partition. His proposal, I'd contend, holds no viable alternative for society and merely encourages reintegration of the old adversarial mindset ... or at least that's how it will be received.

    If OIOV is ever to grow the legs it needs to gain momentum, it'll have to have a much more compelling narrative than bemoaning the 'undemocratic imposition' of the GFA.
    I don't see that happening.

  68. Another pearl of wisdom from the boul' Henry Joy but I wonder could he guess at who once gave us this little beauty:

    "Sean, I'm pretty much in agreement with your analysis. We're in a bind not of our making. The Imperial Coloniser's 'plantation' policies, to enforce the indigenous population's control/subservience is the essential problem. Any policy/regime change which does not recognise this core dynamic is doomed for failure. It's like applying sticking plaster to a deep wound, it has the shape and form of a useful intervention in the immediacy but little real benefit in the longer run. The first imperative is for the coloniser to make a time-bound declaration of withdrawal. I see this as somewhat like 'bigger brother syndrome' i.e. the behaviour of the street or school-room bully being determined by the presence of his 'big brother'. Once the big-brother has left the school or the town the 'bully' finds he has to temper his excessive behaviour."

    As a wise man once said, say nothing 'til ye hear more...

  69. The same 'expert' also gave us this classic:

    "That said what's the alternative? Acceptance of the dreary drudge of sectarian squabbles, participation in the organised farces presented by the current political 'masters'? Now people don't have to agree with everything I say, (indeed they don't have to agree with anything I say), but maybe the best one can do is hold on to oneself with as much dignity and integrity as can be mustered in such maelstroms?"

    The bottom line a chara is that you might have walked away from this perfectly reasonable analysis of the situation pertaining to the Brit occupation - for reasons only you can really know - but don't now expect that your obvious ability to contort the English language means we should take heed of what you say.

  70. Henry JoY

    They hold on to the past better than the Shinners!

  71. Circumstances, the passage of time and shifting values!

  72. And there we have it. Despite telling us to uphold our 'dignity' and to reject the 'dreary drudge of sectarian squabbles' (your description of the existing political process) you now suggest the complete opposite, that we are obliged not only to accept it but to agree to its legitimacy and to do so without question. Indeed you now attempt to label those who don't as 'blindly obsessed crack-pots'. Well excuse me if I take that with a pinch of salt. Enough said.

  73. Sean,

    take as much salt with it as you wish.

    The point I was making was as to how storytelling is an essential part of how we individually and collectively create and maintain identity, and suggesting that the cultural narrative has changed in Ireland. The 'god help us' victim-hood 'bad Bwits' narrative has been largely replaced with a more confident and self assertive one. The new narrative is one where the vast majority tell themselves and each other we fought bravely for the full loaf and now proudly celebrate the success of having secured 13/16 of it.
    As for the other 3/16 well we'll settle that in time and we'll settle that by agreement. Its a minor matter, its no longer a major grievance to be battled or fought for ... or at least that's how the new narrative goes. Its well embedded Sean, that's the fact of the matter and any movement for unity is going to need a compelling narrative if its to secure enough support to dislodge the one that's currently holds tenure. To my mind and in that context the thinking behind OIOV is delusional.

    AM has given you a lot of feedback above. Distilled and summarised; he suggests you have a slogan and no viable strategy as of yet. Forgive me if this sounds harsh but I'm suggesting that the slogan has no purchase either.

  74. A barrel of salt wouldn't cover it but whether the slogan has purchase or not hardly alters your one-time views of the political process - nor your assertion that Britain is the root of the problem in Ireland. That your newfound position is fundamentally at odds with that is entirely your own concern. But to have argued the status quo is to be rejected, however marginalised our argument might be in the doing, that this is a necessary act to preserve our dignity - and our integrity - and then to turn round and contradict yourself, to not only advise us to embrace the status quo but to engage in a long-running series of put-downs of those who won't join you in your flip-flop, can only tell the reader that it is yourself who has no integrity. Sure he or she would only be going on what you've said yourself. When all's said and done your advice, as your opinions, is pretty much worthless as far as I'm concerned. I don't say that to insult but because you have nothing of substance to offer. Sin é agus slán. Spoil a good debate if you feel you must continue but as I've long-since argued, it's a waste of energy discussing anything with you when you're real concern is your ego. Adh mhór and thanks again to TPQ for both the platform and an excellent debate.

  75. A Shéain,
    it is clear your strategy is not a slogan, rather a slogan with a strategy. And while the main debate between you and Mackers was a highly intellectual, philosophical and educational debate, there is much you have glossed over.
    We do need to measure the value of OIOV strategy in challenging global capitalism, and its ability to take control of political power that would ensure that the economic plan originally drew up by Johnson, will have a real chance to exist.
    I am also appreciative of the thought that says the biggest common denominator insists that the best area is the bigger number, but I would suggest that this position is not necessarily an anti-imperialist position.
    It may once have been revolutionary democratic, even quasi-socialist position, but taking into account Republican ideological history from 1914 up to 2016, the ideal of an independent Republic without assuming political power by the class that needs it most falls short.
    More is needed for the OIOV strategy to have any meaning that transcends the lack of hope within the republican family.
    Ádh mór ort.

  76. Kevin,

    the best way is to send your email address to the comments section which we will not publish but just use to send you contact details.

  77. Sean,

    yes I've done a complete about turn,
    but as George Bernard Shaw aptly observed;

    "Progress is impossible without change,
    and those who cannot change their minds
    cannot change anything".

    Off with you sir, and off with your wretched and regressive proposals!

  78. That you consider a proposed act of self-determination a 'wretched and regressive proposal' is hardly unexpected but I give it no credence. None whatsoever. Not when you previously advised that preserving our dignity required holding the line against such reactionary drivel, even when it seemed all hope was lost.

    You said that the current arrangements are an 'organised farce' imposed by 'big bully' Britain, that despite the strength of our 'political masters' the best we could do at this time, in the 'maelstrom', is keep hold of our dignity and hold the line regardless of short-term considerations. You said that to do otherwise was untenable over the long-term and would strip us of our 'dignity and integrity' along the way.

    Now you can quote George Bernard Shaw or whomever else 'til the cows come home but your position has been made clear. That you have lost your own dignity along whatever perceived journey you think you've been on does not mean others should follow suit.

    No matter who you quote or how you present your 'about turn' you will never be able to square your newfound position and the attitude accompanying with your earlier analysis of those who have followed or might follow your route. And that dear friend is the end of the story.

    Kevin a chara, I hope to address your points in an article rather than in the comments section as it's a worthwhile topic to put something down on. I'm for beautiful Inishowen this evening to meet with friends before heading to Galway for a stag. So it'll likely be next week before I get something finished. Enjoy the holidays.

  79. Sean

    earlier in this thread in response to your comment
    'it's not the North we should be thinking of'

    AM pointed responded that this was the
    "ruinous flaw in all republican strategy".

    Similarly I heard Eunan O'Halpin, Professor of Contemporary Irish History at Trinity College Dublin, yesterday on radio, say with regards to 1916 Proclamation, it likewise conveniently dismissed Unionist needs.

    I followed a republican ideology which acknowledged through Éire Nua and attempted to address that challenge. My republican and nationalistic aspirations, although perhaps juvenile, were buttressed to a degree by the offer of a federated solution in addressing those legitimate needs.

    Perhaps the 'about turn' I've taken may be easier to understand if viewed in the light that I was always aware that any settlement eventually needed to be inclusive of Unionism. Like most people on the island I accept that reality. However I bought into the flawed strategy of 'Brits Out' and then reaching an accommodation with Unionism. My change in stance is a reflection of the now broadly accepted prioritising of an accommodation with unionism before any British withdrawal form the island of Ireland. Any argument that this contravenes the democratic will of the people must be viewed like just more of the torturous counting of Angels on the head of a pin.

    Whether you can view it that way or not is of little importance to me. Especially so when I sadly consider the death of the prison officer yesterday. When I contemplate the loss of yet another human life and of those left bereft how can one not but conclude that this and all that preceded it had some of its genesis in, and is sustained by, a flawed ideology that claims an inalienable historic right for geographic unity ... and that right to unity takes precedence over changing values and generally improved circumstances. All in all you guys have a huge rock to push up the hill ... but as Robert reminded me above you guys probably imagine yourselves happy ... and the tougher it gets the more ye become deliriously so!

    But in the end of the day, you and your comrades have every right to campaign for OIOV as I have the right to experiment with different perspectives, to develop my thinking and change my mind from previously held positions.
    You have the right to hold a consistent position just as I have the right to let mine evolve and in conscience adapt accordingly.

  80. You have that right yes but that's not the real issue. The problem for you is not in the changing of your mind - we're all entitled to do so. The problem is that when you lambast those who don't do likewise and who remain constant - dismissing them as inherently negative - as though they were somehow reactionary or narrow-minded - it brings into focus your earlier assertion that it was required we do so if we hoped to retain our dignity - regardless of how others (as yourself) might come to be convinced otherwise. That was your logic and they are your words not mine. It's difficult then to attach any credit to your shouting down of those who refuse to follow your flip-flop, other than to view it a product of injured ego.

    The ferocity of your views and the absolute condescension that runs through them are reminiscent of the blacks in the LAPD who felt compelled to prove their 'loyalty' by being even more forthright in attacking their own people. Change your mind by all accounts but don't expect to be taken seriously when you object to those who won't do likewise as 'blindly obsessed crack-pots' - not when you began by describing it of critical importance not to be suckered by such rhetoric and to persist. You said we should expect this and to persist for the sake of the longterm, that otherwise it would amount to total defeat. As far as I'm concerned that has not changed and you should bear that in mind before crying about your newfound realities. I know them too well and to where they lead: defeat (and according to you the loss of our dignity and integrity). Sin é.

  81. Sean,

    "I know them too well and to where they lead: defeat (and according to you the loss of our dignity and integrity)."

    'Defeat'. Who are you hoping to defeat, Sean?

  82. Steve, I doubt you've picked something up wrong. I've not mentioned defeating anyone but at this point it's probably best left alone

  83. So I have not picked you up wrong then Sean?

    Who is your battle against? Assuming you view it that a 'loss' is a 'defeat'?

  84. Steve a chara, I can't imagine how this can evolve into a useful discussion. A fresh morning here in Inishowen and heading to Galway any minute. All I can say is have a great St. Patrick's Day.

  85. Safe journey Sean,

    just for the record though, no real skulls have been cracked, no real blood spilt nor lives lost in the making of my points; the substance of which you successfully avoid.
    Your LAPD allegory is 'fair game' insofar as readers keep in mind it is just metaphor, a safer and less threatening version is that of a stuck pendulum; once released it'll tend to swing to the other side before it comes to rest. Doesn't have the same violent and aggressive undertones and makes the same point.

  86. Henry JoY

    Another metaphor could be..

    "He who pisses in the wind gets his own back"!

    But I agree, there is nothing of substance in the OIOV campaign save bellicose words.

    One would think in order to change something you would have to first accept it exists!

  87. Partition exists Steve, we know that don't worry. Our campaign rightfully seeks its end

  88. A 'campaign' in name only Sean, nothing of substance as pointed out by many others above.


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