I just finished reading Powell’s Great Hatred, Little Room.
I was struck by two related aspects of the book: the extent to which the British state was successful in managing republicanism, in realizing a series of agreements that included republicans but excluded republicanism, if I may borrow Anthony McIntyre’s phrase; and the continuing dominance of the Irish revisionist perspective on the northern conflict.
On the latter point, Irish revisionist understandings of the north generally emphasize four principal themes:
1. that the conflict in the north is primarily if not exclusively internal in nature;
2. that traditional nationalism and republicanism are the main causes of the conflict and they continue to have a particularly debilitating influence on northern politics;
3. that the politics and ideology of the unionist bloc have a special significance and must be accorded privileged recognition; and
4. that the British state is a neutral and salutary force whose intervention is to be welcomed and extended.
Powell’s analysis is entirely consistent with these revisionist themes. On the first point, Powell likens the northern conflict to an “incomprehensible dispute between two tribes,” which is a view the title of the book is meant to underline. His reference to the “two tribes” is not meant to suggest that both main communities in the north are equally to blame. Nationalism and republicanism are the major problems to which unionism and loyalism are reactions (see below). This internal focus, of course, absolves the British state of any responsibility for the conflict. According to Powell, the issue is not that Britain is to blame, but that both sides think that Britain is to blame. To be fair, he does admit that the British government is not “entirely blameless,” but only in the most minor and technical ways: it sometimes made well-meaning mistakes, it occasionally had to break promises, as did all the parties, and it set deadlines too often. For Powell, Britain is culpable only insofar as it ignored the north for too long. Once the British government decided to devote considerable time and attention to the north, resolution of the “Irish question” had begun.
On the second point, he suggests that Britain’s primary purpose in entering the peace process was two-fold: to end republican violence and marginalize or defeat the demand for a united Ireland. In this, the British government was completely successful. The Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements relegate nationalism and republicanism to simple expressions of political identities that are to be granted “parity of esteem” within the north. This relegation effectively empties those doctrines of the very elements that represent challenges to the established constitutional and social order.
On the third point, Powell offers numerous examples of how the British government gave priority to upholding the unionist veto (disguised as the principle of consent) and worked to reassure unionists that the Union would be upheld: from the triple lock’s evisceration of the Framework Documents in 1995, to Blair’s speech in May 1997 on the value of the Union, to the progressive weakening of North/South bodies during peace negotiations, to the adoption of Trimble’s idea of an Independent Monitoring Commission.
On the fourth point, Powell variously describes the British government’s role in the peace process as a “neutral intermediary,” “neutral broker,” “referee,” and “intelligent facilitator.” He does recognize that, being the sovereign power in the north, Britain affected what happened on the ground. But, he suggests, it intervened in ways that demonstrated its lack of selfish interest in the north: it built trust between the communities and promoted fair compromises that satisfied both sides.
Powell’s book, like Irish revisionism, fails as an explanation of the northern conflict and peace process. It misunderstands the respective effects of nationalism/republicanism and unionism/loyalism, and it misrepresents the partisan role of the British state in reproducing social division and political hierarchy.
But, in many ways, this book is a testimony to the triumph of Irish revisionism as a political project. The Provisionals have, in effect, accepted the principal tenets of revisionism, however much they rhetorically oppose them, and supported a peace process that frustrates the constitutional, political and social aims of republicanism.
Mike, this is a great piece. Concise but hits a large number of key buttons. It should be read by everybody seeking a better understanding of what the British state was pursuing. Keep that sort of analysis coming - so beneficial to us all.ReplyDelete
Mike, the theory that the 'troubles' was never anything more than a two tribes war was allowed to take root many years ago.ReplyDelete
Anyone unfortunate enough to have read the litany of academic studies on the North will find they all cite practically the same thing, that the violence here was reactionary.
I have just finished reading David Ervine's account in the Ed Moloney book. Ervine, who was hailed as a futuristic and forward thinking politican also sings from the same hymn sheet.
According to him, all Loyalist violence was reactionary, 'We merely returned the serve'
Our history has been revised to the extent many people believe Irish rebellion started in 1969.
The Brits have sucessfully removed themselves from the equation.
Declaring themselves the neutral arbiters of the perpetually squabbling Irish.
I suppose they can write what they like in regard to Irish history.
Considering it is being revised and rewritten by the victors.
that's true and an academic school of thought was built around it - the internal conflict model. But the GFA being accepted by SF completely validates the Brit position on the matter. And it retrospectivly rewrites history.
I found this an interesting piece. It has a completely different perspective than my own although after reading it a couple of points hit home. eg. that the constant references to the UK government as an "honest broker" undoubtedly added to the erroneous interpretation that the Conflict was inherently about tribalism.ReplyDelete
However I don't believe the Provisionals agree with the four listed themes of Irish revisionism. I accept that with hindsight those themes have undoubtedly been strengthened. However, strengthened unintentionally by the Provisionals and intentionally by other parties to the peace process.
Unionism and Nationalism have parity now so I disagree that the Provisionals gave the Unionist bloc "a special significance" or "privileged recognition". The fait accompli after all those years of partition and the unionists' superior numbers means that the status quo would remain. Nothing could be done about that except by a victory by Republicanism. That didn't happen so if you don't accept the majority of the population is the factor for deciding sovereignty you are in denial.
The unionists have the same significance per se as nationalists when it comes to politics and ideology. Unionist population gives unionism the edge but only numerically not in essence or substance.
'Unionism and Nationalism have parity now' ahem.
THE main benefit/gain to the Britz from the GFA was in forcing the prm to accept the ring-fencing of the Unionist veto, of the 'consent principle' as it is referred to by the less enlightened.
The majority of the people of Ireland want a united Ireland free from British interference. Indeed many polls have historically shown that this is what the majority of British people desire too.
Not until this basic democratic principle is recognised and adhered to will there be any kind of 'parity' in Ireland.
My point is that after nearly 90 years of partition without any new element being introduced the unionist's majority will ensure the continuance of the border.
The UN's rules on self-determination promote this fact, the "international community" for want of a better word are disinterested, the government who have sovereignty over the North want this, the majority of people in the North want this.
No matter how much I want a United Ireland it wasn't going to be achieved by negotiation. The wishes of the people of the entire island of Ireland as an entity is not the deciding factor, de jure or de facto.
As soon as the majority of people in the North vote for a United Ireland it will happen because of the Good Friday Agreement. That is why I say there is parity. Whoever is the majority decides- unionist or nationalist. Numbers give Unionism the edge now, that could change. There is parity in the weight of the opposing arguments.
The unionist veto wasn't ring-fenced. It hasn't been made stronger. Nothing could have changed the Unionist veto. The fact that partition is 90 years old has ring-fenced it not the GFA. Who's going to change it? The 1924 Boundary Commission?
The British Government may well have presented itself as the honest impartial broker and to be honest, maybe that's how it saw itself. Doing its best to settle a tribal war, Ulsterization, criminalisation so on. Finchley at all costs. It’s not too hard to envisage this.ReplyDelete
However, nobody appeared/appears to factor in the effects of sectarianism.
Sectarianism underlay the mentality and implementation of a "Protestant state for a Protestant people" as well as the alienation and justified resentment of Catholics, who saw they were treated differently to other British citizens. Their only recourse lay in refusal of the status quo and in embracing a nationalist/republican ideology which promised equality.
Events then triggered events and we can debate the rights and wrongs of this and that until the cows come home. But the elephant in the room is still sectarianism and until it is removed the nationalist population is not free to decide what it wants.
aex a cara forgive me but I thought the Nationalist people of Ireland decided in 1918 what they wanted, basically a cara that was their country back, and I dont believe anything has changed much since then,ReplyDelete
aex, Why was their alienation of Catholics justified?ReplyDelete
I think the mentality which underpinned their occupation was divide and conquer.
Do not believe the Brits saw themselves as impartial brokers.
Then again, it seems they can tell us anything.
'As soon as the majority of people in the North vote for a United
Ireland it will happen because of the Good Friday Agreement.'
Surely because of the Northern Ireland Act of 1973? Up until 72 the NI parliament had the right to decide the future status of the North. When Stormont went the British relocated the consent principle in a majority of people in the North to anchor it somewhere.
I think the veto has been has been ringfenced if for no reason other than the basis on which the country is partitioned has now been legitimised by Sinn Fein in its support of the partition principle which is indistinguishable from the consent principle. More people in the North than ever before support the partition principle. That must ringfence it behind a solid wall.
Answers to some questions:ReplyDelete
Marty said: I thought the Nationalist people of Ireland decided in 1918 what they wanted,
Reply: They did but there's very few alive today to confirm the decision
Marty: that was their country back,
Marty: I dont believe anything has changed much since then,
Reply: hasn't it? Are you sure?
Fionnuala Perry 1:29 AM,
Why was their alienation of Catholics justified?
Reply: Fionnuala either you have misunderstood or I haven't explained clearly what I wanted to say. The Catholics were justified in feeling alienated, given what the Orange State was. I never said the Orange State's policies, which I have always condemned, were justified. I'm sorry if you misunderstood this.
Fionnuala said: I think the mentality which underpinned their occupation was divide and conquer.
Reply: This was their method. Their mentality was always directed to protecting British interests, which they did as AM's review shows.
Fionnuala: Do not believe the Brits saw themselves as impartial brokers. Then again, it seems they can tell us anything
Reply: I think that in their view, they probably were believed they were acting as impartial brokers, besides the fact that this stance served their interests - which was basically pacification
Hope I have explained my analysis a little better. Noticed that nobody mentioned sectarianism. Still the elephant in the room?
I was aware that consent moved from Stormont to the people but I wasn't aware that the UK government officially agreed such with the Irish thereby making it internationally binding. They could've gone back on their unilateral statements. Although similar statements about consent of the NI people were made before the GFA it was always strangely stipulated that the border wasn't an issue.
That is why I think the unionist veto hasn't been ringfenced. It was always solid and couldn't be strengthened in practical terms. I agree that Sinn Fein accept the consent principle but that acceptance is different than the partition principle because Sinn Fein's stated ideology is an end to partition. They are against one and accept the other.
Don't get me wrong- I completely reject the consent principle or partition but practically I can not see any way round it. If partition was arbitrary and capricious when it happened and therefore inherently wrong- going against the wishes of the Irish people as a whole I don't see why time should negate that wrong or make it somehow acceptable. The reason why most republicans at the time of partition were more concerned with the oath to the king than partition is that they thought partition was temporary.
I agree with most posters on this blog that there needs to be a new approach to achieving a United Ireland. A new articulation of the benefits, a new method of achieving it and a start made towards that destination.
The GFA at least gives us all pause to think, to gather our energy and pursue a peaceful although hereto undiscovered route towards unification.
The question that has to be asked is whether we as a people can come up with an answer.
very interesting as always... decided to get the dammed book now Was resistant to doing so preferring to pick at the meat pre-picked from the bones for ones' synapses. Great Hatred Big Tomb would be a more accurate title. It is wearying how these clever bastards write these tomes profiting from us Irish as always. Blame Anthony for introducing us all to this dammed book... it has got me brain stretched. Fionnuala i have always seen that squabbling Irish stereotype portrayal being pluggedReplyDelete
and re 'Our history has been revised to the extent many people believe Irish rebellion started in 1969' how true even more so for the Irish diaspora generations. Wafty notions perpetrated as fact. Marty no i aint a ginger. Saint?maryhedgehog has an icon mugshot on her blog for the world to revere (no time to build a money shrine yet) snortle. grma mike for review ='s more food for the brain to wrestle with.
Simon cant totally disagree with your last post a cara most of it I would say is spot on,where we do differ, is with the removal of articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution and psf not only accepting the consent principle but actively participating in administering british rule here in the north eastern counties,not only ringfences but builds Berlin style wall around unification, aex I,m sure that anyone who calls themselves Irish believes in unification,so no change there a cara, you continue to refer to sectarianism as the elephant in the room,agreed it was and is a tactic used by the unionist landlords and the brits to keep the working classes here apart with the exception of the ODR in the 30,s but even that eventually fell to that vile but sucessful tactic,as Tone said that religious division was a tool of the elite to balance the one party by the other, plunder and laugh at the defeat of both,Tone ,Connolly,Mac Diarmada, are the inspiration of todays republicans, one can only hope and work at trying to get their message through to our bros and sisters in the "loyalist" community,it may be an elephant aex but even they can be shifted by a mouseReplyDelete
Jaysusssss Mary hope you shot the photographer,or was it just a bad hair dayReplyDelete
I am not following your point on sectarianism you mention it but only say the pachyderm is in the room?
Marty said: I,m sure that anyone who calls themselves Irish believes in unification,so no change there
Reply: The point is that it has to be re-affirmed votewise. Are you sure that anyone who calls themselves Irish (every citizen with an Eire passport?) believes and wants unification with the Unionists? Why would they be bothered? What’s in it for them?
Marty wrote: you continue to refer to sectarianism as the elephant in the room,agreed it was and is a tactic used by the unionist landlords and the brits to keep the working classes here apart with the exception of the ODR in the 30,s but even that eventually fell to that vile but sucessful tactic,
Tain Bo asked: I am not following your point on sectarianism you mention it but only say the pachyderm is in the room?
Reply: Sectarianism works in different ways and the picture won’t be clear until it is removed. Apart from the denial of human rights towards the Catholics/nationalists, it fosters one mentality in the Catholics (alienation etc) which drove them into an ideology offering them equal status as citizens. If sectarianism were to be removed from NI society I honestly don’t know what way the nationalist electorate would swing because sectarianism has prevented them from enjoying the benefits of the Union. If they were to have them, what would happen? Sectarianism has also influenced protestant voters but the change to Alliance in east Belfast shows that merely proclaiming The Union no longer satisfies working-class Protestant voters. Will they take on board the message from Fisk in today’s independent “We didn’t care about the Irish – Catholic or Protestant? http://www.independent.ie/national-news/robert-fisk-we-didnt-care-about-the-irish-catholics-or-protestants-2221958.html
I don’t know but something is moving in the Unionist heartland. If sectarianism were to be eradicated completely, how would they swing votewise?
Finally Simon said: there needs to be a new approach to achieving a United Ireland. A new articulation of the benefits, a new method of achieving it and a start made towards that destination.
aex there,s lots of strange people running around with Irish passports at the moment ask the Israelies,when I speak of the Irish I mean those not only the people born here but the dispora of this nation who live to see Ireland a nation once again. there is of course many from the nationalist background north and south who would be more than happy to be part of prefidious Albion, we call them castle catholics,from the unionist background we had IRA members from the Shankill rd (who were unfortunatley attacked while attending Bodenstown in 1934 by those comrades from Tipp )I suppose it depends on excatly what sort of society that is being offered that will influence peoples opinions, unfortunatley in the partation of this country it suited those who had the major sway over the people at that time ,I mean here the churches, the Catholic church got a Catholic state as did the Protestant church,but the people have moved on in the last 80 odd years, and now that the dirty little conflict of the last 35 years has ceased,we are now free as republicans and socialists to criticaly analyse our past, debate the way foward,I for one still believe in Tone,s dream minus the religion bitReplyDelete
I,m sliding off up them thar hills for a date with a goat, but in passing i,d like to place on record my thoughts about futher public inquiries into state murders, we are now hearing from all quarters ie., church ,and politicians, and the rest, that such inquiries are to financialy prohibitive, I say tough shit, let them pay, they allowed their agents to carry out these acts,they like Paisley besmirched the names of those murdered, without redress,and now they say move on for the sake of peace, we should say that no matter how much it costs and how long it takes the truth of this states involvement in the murder of its citizens must be revealed for the sake of future peace, we must make the state aware that such actions will eventually cost them so dearly that they think twice before giving a nod and a wink to the fools who do their biddingReplyDelete
A Failed ExplanationReplyDelete
‘However, nobody appeared/appears to factor in the effects of
I don’t know how this can be accurate given that it is a term that has been central to political discourse in the North.
Why would the British feel the need to go back on their unilateral statement? It was not a private matter which they could at some point deny. What would be their strategic interest in pulling back? Even now if they wished it would not take a great deal to move the Dublin government to row back. But why would they want to?
The GFA in my view has done nothing to attenuate the unionist veto. It has been institutionalised in an international agreement as you point out and is supported by more people that ever before. I think the argument can be made that the veto has been structurally and psychologically fortified.
Sinn Fein’s discursive rather than its ideological position is anti-partition. It supports the principle that partitions the country. It argues that outside of that principle there can not be unity. The veto is an indivisible concept. SF first began trying to parse it in the early to mid 90s as a means to embrace it while maintaining that it had in fact embraced something else. When I used the term ‘partitionist nationalist’ to describe the SDLP at a Derry meeting in 1995 Mitchell McLaughlin instantly discerned what he was being drawn on and moved as instantly to dismiss the term. I think it applies as much to SF today as it did to the SDLP then. It is impossible to support the principle which partitions the country and then genuinely claim to be anti-partitionist.
‘Don't get me wrong- I completely reject the consent principle or
partition but practically I can not see any way round it.’
This is a frank admission that raises a serious and perhaps insurmountable challenge to republicanism. Yet the ‘space’ that the GFA provides is hardly fertile for republicanism.
‘If partition was arbitrary and capricious when it happened and therefore inherently wrong- going against the wishes of the Irish people as a whole I don't see why time should negate that wrong or make it somehow acceptable.’
Time changes things, brings new people into being who have rights that can’t be trampled over. A couple of years ago I wrote:
“Writing in 1954 on the very question of the divided country John V. Kelleher suggested 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.…’.”
Kelleher interested me because he periodises the problem and challenges the ahistorical perspective which we are inclined to give. The more I sought to walk away from his logic the more stones I felt in my shoe.
I am afraid I can not see that there could have been an end to the conflict other than a partitionist one. Unless Republicans ended on a stronger note the border was going to remain. I can imagine stronger all-Ireland relationships but nothing which would have scrapped the border.ReplyDelete
Following this conclusion if Sinn Fein wanted any say in the way this part of Ireland was run they would have to take part in a partitionist administration.
Now republicanism is more popular than ever. Certainly more popular than at the end of the 1956-1962 Border Campaign and more popular than after partition when people in the North were just despondent.
I accept your point about how times change. I understand that and that is why I said that "after nearly 90 years of partition without any new element being introduced the unionist's majority will ensure the continuance of the border." My point being that so many years of partition have in practice stymied Republicanism.
Ceteris paribus, every year the border remains the stronger it will become. But everything else isn't remaining equal: more people in the North want a United Ireland.
It'll probably happen because the majority of people here vote for it rather than because of any legal reference to the 1910s and 1920s but that is where modern Republicanism comes from ideologically. We can adapt to the present but we shouldn't forget the past.
‘I am afraid I can not see that there could have been an end to the
conflict other than a partitionist one. Unless Republicans ended on a
stronger note the border was going to remain. I can imagine stronger
all-Ireland relationships but nothing which would have scrapped the
‘Following this conclusion if Sinn Fein wanted any say in the way this
part of Ireland was run they would have to take part in a partitionist
Not so logical. There are a variety of ways to bring influence to bear without being co-opted.
‘Now republicanism is more popular than ever. ‘
Simply inaccurate. It is less popular than at any time since 1966, the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. SF is popular but that is a far cry from claiming republicanism is popular. The SF brand of republicanism has been very popular since 1973 when the SDLP were triumphant in the Assembly elections of that year. It would be a hard case to make that the current SF position is republican and the SDLP one wasn’t. Furthermore, when Blair was in government it was pointed out that the claim could be made that socialism was more popular than ever before.
‘more people in the North want a United Ireland.’
Does this take account of the research that shows very few unionists wanting it and a significant minority of nationalists favouring the union?
I suppose we'll have to agree to differ on the point of Sinn Fein actually being a Republican party.ReplyDelete
In the western world there are very few ways for a political party to have influence except through participation either directly in administration or in the opposition. If Sinn Fein didn't participate either there would be complete direct rule from London or the SDLP would participate with the Unionists in Stormont. Sinn Fein would be on the side-lines and would quickly find itself isolated and destroyed electorally.
I suppose if you agree that Sinn Fein isn't a Republican party you could say that Republicanism isn't as popular than in 1966 but as I said at the start that is where we have to agree to differ.
As for the desire for a United Ireland I do take into account the fact that very few unionists want it and a significant minority of nationalists favour the union. That has been the way for decades. I remember the same points arising in polls in the late 1980s when I was at school.
A more recent poll:
Forgive me if I am wrong but surely the percentage hoping to stay in the UK has dropped considerably? Of course any research like the above has to be taken with a grain of salt.
this is where it hives off - a definition of republicanism. I don't see SF as a republican party. I make that comment as an observation rather than a criticism. Just as I don't see the SDLP as one. I suppose we all categorise to make the world simple.
'In the western world there are very few ways for a political party to have influence except through participation either directly in administration or in the opposition. If Sinn Fein didn't participate either there would be complete direct rule from London or the SDLP would participate with the Unionists in Stormont. Sinn Fein would be on the side-lines and would quickly find itself isolated and destroyed electorally.'
Well, obviously I don't agree. They might not have been the hegemonic nationalist party but that hegemony has come at quite a price: the inclusion of republicans and the exclusion of republicanism.
I am aware of the poll you refer to. I just happen to think that over the distance the evidence points the other way - taking into account your qualification about polls.
If a person is a Republican (under any definition) the question arises "What can we do to promote the desire for a United Ireland?" I get the impression that you are despondent regarding partition and I acknowledge that you have many very valid points. I appreciate the availability of the Pensive Quill and your obvious determination and admirable approach. I hope your passion doesn't get diminished because of the current political situation.
I also hope you and your family can live peacefully, free from abuse. If there are vitriolic, harmful, criminal attacks on Republicans by Republicans we'll never get anywhere.
I don't accept the 50% plus one vote as an efficacious route towards a United Ireland. If it's the only route I'll take it. But surely the articulation of the benefits of unification should be made amongst ourselves and towards unionists and others. If we are trying to convince people to join in a United Ireland and Unionists are trying the opposite surely our efforts should be combined to counteract any movement away from unification.
That being said I believe you are doing more than your part but you seem to be too despondent when unification is still achievable. I don't mean this as a criticism by the way! I can understand why you would be heartbroken never mind despondent!
Anyway thanks for letting me air my views.
There was a strong element of sectarianism behind the unionist working class involvement in the ODR strikes. I think there is much room for debate about whether the unionist played to the prejudices of the grassroots or were the prime mover in those prejudices.
Not sure despondent is how I would describe it. At least I don’t feel that way psychologically. I see no chance of it being overcome but it does not make me despondent. Philosophical is a term I would use but you thinking I am despondent may be fair comment. Don’t worry about criticism – how else do we learn?
If there is a solution to partition it is not a republican one.
‘If we are trying to convince people to join in a United Ireland and Unionists are trying the opposite surely our efforts should be combined to counteract anymovement away from unification.’
It is a constitutional nationalist position rather than a republican one.
Maybe in time constitutional nationalism will produce one on British terms. But I don’t see that as a republican approach. I suppose it calls for an evaluation of the efficacy of republicanism
SF do not like dissent and never make it easy. They have given me a lot of bother over the years so I appreciate your point. However, what I notice from my discussion with many other republicans at odds with SF – and which is reflected in the obituaries I would write for SF dead – is that I have much better personal relationships with many in SF than they do. I have boozed with some of them in the midst of my disputes with their leadership or visited them in hospital or whatever.
Your views are always welcome. TPQ benefits from all manner of viewpoints. And it is not tied down to political issues much to the annoyance of the PC types! Soccer, books and films also feature.
A M said "I think there is much room for debate about whether the unionist played to the prejudices of the grassroots or were the prime mover in those prejudices".ReplyDelete
Agreed. And also why is there no determined, effective anti-sectarian propaganda campaign? This is not proposed or supported by any party in the Stormont Assembly, Leinster House or Westminster - suggesting sectarianism suits all of them.
I think a measure of how deep rooted sectarianism actually is lies in the fact that we have no longer have a deeply sectarian state in society but do a have a state in a deeply sectarian society. It has long been my view that the GFA never transcended sectarianism but institutionalised it to borrow a well worn phrase. A gain to one community can be inflated by selling it as a loss to the other.
I have to say you are spot on when you said "it calls for an evaluation of the efficacy of republicanism".
“Robert Fisk: 'We didn't care about the Irish -- Catholics or Protestants'.”ReplyDelete
The headline should read in present tense as they do not care about the Irish.
Is he implying they now have seen the error of their ways and is apologetic?
“Sectarianism works in different ways and the picture won’t be clear until it is removed. Apart from the denial of human rights towards the Catholics/nationalists, it fosters one mentality in the Catholics (alienation etc) which drove them into an ideology offering them equal status as citizens. If sectarianism were to be removed from NI society I honestly don’t know what way the nationalist electorate would swing because sectarianism has prevented them from enjoying the benefits of the Union. If they were to have them, what would happen? Sectarianism has also influenced protestant voters but the change to Alliance in east Belfast shows that merely proclaiming The Union no longer satisfies working-class Protestant voters. Will they take on board the message from Fisk in today’s independent “We didn’t care about the Irish – Catholic or Protestant? http://www.independent.ie/national-news/robert-fisk-we-didnt-care-about-the-irish-catholics-or-protestants-2221958.html
I don’t know but something is moving in the Unionist heartland. If sectarianism were to be eradicated completely, how would they swing vote wise?”
Sectarianism works only one way granted it may be manipulated to suggest it works in many ways. The picture is crystal clear with sectarianism as it was a symptom of what we politely term the troubles.
You causally dismiss human rights and continue on to blame nationalists/Catholics suggesting that they chose to alienate themselves which seems odd considering partition accomplished that.
If sectarianism was removed then both religions would enjoy the freedom to vote for whomever they believed would benefit their community as you mention east Belfast both catholic and protestants freely voted for a middle of the road party, yet you neglected to mention the catholic voters in that election?
As for Fisk, well I would not rely upon his words as his own let’s say less than fair coverage of the Jewish/Arab conflict might show he is not exactly without religious bias.
The internet has a way of letting the communities share common ground. Sectarian minds will probably be unfortunately around for the future though I doubt they will have the success they had in the 1960s and 70s. The last toxic bastion of Loyalist sectarianism being the Orange Order and even they know their glory days have passed.
Sectarianism is alive but people are more politically savvy and perhaps one thing we can count on and agree upon is very few people wish to see a return to the days of religious pogrom. It would be difficult to argue that the Loyalist pogrom was not a planned campaign persecuting the minority and sanctioned by the British Government.
“Robert Fisk: 'We didn't care about the Irish -- Catholics or Protestants'.”
Indeed stirring the trouble then arriving after the place is burning knowing that they are now the saving grace not of the people but of their little state Northern Ireland.
You don’t have to travel far for a good example of how religions seem to benefit without British rule as Catholics and Protestants enjoy the freedom across the border. That would imply hope for the future.
Perhaps the government’s manipulation of religious divides is the real elephant in the room.