A Border Poll Excludes The Majority In Ireland

Kevin Martin of the Sean MacDiarmada Society (pictured right with Derek Warfield) exposes Declan Kearney on the upcoming UK referendum and his duplicitous call for a six-county ‘Border Poll’.

Speaking this morning on the upcoming UK referendum on Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme, Sinn Fein’s Declan Kearney voiced concern that a ‘rump of the electorate in South-East England’ could decide matters for the UK as a whole.

Ignoring that the Six Counties have been claimed through force by Britain, he meekly accepted the legitimacy of the North’s position within the UK state before, incredibly, making the case for Britain remaining in Europe, as though that were of any concern to Irish republicans. Let Britain decide her own affairs and Ireland likewise.

That Kearney and Sinn Fein have been reduced to this should come as no surprise, their fawning over the British Royals and support for MI5-led policing a testament to their position on the British state in Ireland. They now play a full role within that state and are wholly integrated into its structure.

On that same programme he appealed for a Border Poll should Britain determine on exiting Europe, ignoring that in this instance what he terms a ‘rump’ would again decide for a greater area, that being the rest of Ireland, whose views would not only be rendered ineffective but excluded completely. His logic does not add up.

Sadly, when questioned by myself would he instead then support an all-Ireland referendum, rather than a hopelessly inadequate Border Poll, he chose to deflect and refused to answer the question. It would seem Sinn Fein are afraid of committing to the principle of self-determination, a damning insight into their politics a century on from the Easter Rising.

Regardless, for Irish republicans the right to national self-determination remains. With that same right in mind ourselves in the 1916 Societies are calling for an all-Ireland referendum on Irish Unity, where the people of Ireland, as is their right, decide as one the future of our country.

That the National Chair of Sinn Fein is afraid of such a referendum should not concern us and indeed is to be expected. It merely reflects his party’s support for the British arrangements for Ireland, which uphold a Unionist Veto over constitutional change.

No matter, for those who wish to see a United Ireland the double-standards of Sinn Fein should be disregarded; our One Ireland One Vote initiative, embodying the call for a national referendum in line with the rights of the Irish people, embraced in their stead.


  1. Kevin,

    Figuratively speaking, this appears to be a case of fools rushing in where others fear to tread. A border poll may exclude the majority in Ireland but it also precludes the complete implosion of republicanism. I think in that respect Kearney displays much more political nous. As was demonstrated by Anthony here recently those piloting this project have little concept of the mechanics involved in getting it off the runway and it seems have given as much thought to the ramifications of it's crash landing.

  2. Nothing but rhetoric.

    No change to the border can or will occur without the majority of people in partitioned state of six counties, agreeing to it.

    Ignoring this very basic premise is why the OIOV is doomed to be nothing more than a lot of hot air and wishful thinking.

    And are you really surprised the Shinners are all over the shop?

  3. Kevin is right in terms of where SF is at - all over the place on the issue. On the day of the last Northern border poll referendum in 1973, Gerry Kelly bombed London. It is perfectly legitimate for a republican to call for an all Ireland vote. It would be bizarre were they to argue against it and this is where Kevin calls Declan out.

    Problem is not in the call for an all Ireland vote per se but in how to make the call effective. This is not even in terms of delivering a UI but in terms of holding the referendum.

    I would like to see an all Ireland vote with 2 questions: Should Ireland be united? Should coercion be used to achieve Irish unity?

    I am fairly sure the first question would meet with a yes. I am absolutely certain that the second question would meet with a no.

    So what we would get is what we already have. And no one yet has come remotely close to explaining how this might prove any different.

    Why bother?

  4. Why bother?

    I guess it would be just too painful for some not to just keep 'something' going.
    The absurdity of their position is easier avoided with activity and being busy ... so much easier than facing up to the now hopeless realities.
    Facing current realities challenges republicans right to the core of their identities. Its not difficult to imagine how challenging this 'letting go' would be for some of the old stalwarts and why they continue to hammer on.

  5. AM

    Your second question would be seen with some amount of horror no doubt, but would also be easily 'spun' so as to be full of malice.

    Pretty sure you see the futility of violence these days like the rest of us?

  6. Steve,

    malice in what sense and spun by who?

  7. AM

    By the Unionist parties. They would look at an Ireland wide vote with two questions, one of which asks whether unification by coercion is desirable by flat out refusing to have anything to do with it. It would not matter if all right thinking people knew it would be a resounding 'no', the Unionists would use it as a means to sow fear in their own communities.

    Not to mention that those who replied 'yes', would view the numbers who did likewise as a political mandate to take up arms.

  8. Steve,

    I take the opposite view. It would increase the likelihood of a much wider participation, including the North.

    Without the question being asked the scenario you outline that those who replied 'yes', would view the numbers who did likewise as a political mandate to take up arms would have a greater chance of taking legs. The very asking of the question and the resounding "no" it would get would militate against the scenario you outline.

    Maybe it is the fact that once the second question is asked the yes response in respect of the first question might be significantly higher - on the grounds that more are likely to say yes if they think their preference is not going to be hijacked by - is what could upset those who might disingenuously seek to term the second question malicious.

  9. If the people decide through an all-Ireland referendum that Irish Unity should proceed what then would prevent it if not coercion? Why then we would fete this as of critical import is beyond me, for if coercion is really such a touchstone issue why is its use held acceptable to deny six Irish counties their right to self-determination alongside the rest of their countrymen? Indeed what does that represent if not the triumph of force over democracy?

    That this goes un-noted above surprises me, for we can hardly be unaware of the double-standard. Regardless, there is no requirement for such a question in the vote. The Catalans feel no compulsion to give it a platform and neither should we. We don't need such distractions brought into the democratic process, what we need is that the democratic process be established and respected. Everything else will flow from there. That it might bring hard questions for those who engage in coercion is a matter for them and not something to hold the rest of us back.

  10. Sean,

    I would have thought the answer to the question would have been pretty obvious. The Irish people might well agree to the proposal that Ireland be united but only through consent rather than coercion. And if that is the outcome then their democratic will is what would block unity being brought about through coercion. Why would you want to deny the Irish people a right to express their will on this matter? Far from being a distraction it is a core matter that will not be wished away. I think, with a touch of flippancy, it is the sort of question that leaves you distracted rather than being a distraction per se.

    A very simple question: do the Irish people have the right to decide on how their preference be implemented or are they to be denied that right and somebody else left to decide?

    If they have that right why not allow them to vote on it? What is there to fear from extending the democratic right of the Irish people? Or are we to assume that there is no attempt to respect the democratic right of the Irish people but to try and subvert it by asking them a limited question which curtails their choice? If the Irish people think the second question is not worth answering and is a mere distraction, then they will ignore it? Do you actually fear their right to choose?

    This whole things has not been thought through in any detail. There has been no advance on your previous offerings and I had hoped that there would be. I think you are fronting for a campaign which is characterised by the same lack of gravitas associated with the political thinking that so defined the Provos and which caused them to flip flop at the drop of a hat.

    My advice, go back to the drawing board and think it through before committing yourself to print. Hold internal debates and discussions, bring your critics alone, have the questions raised here and in response to your earlier piece, brought up and see what answers you can come up with. At the minute it is thoroughly unpersuasive. I signed the petition when I accompanied you to Dublin last year. I defended doing so in a discussion with Peter who thought it a wrong move. Having listened to the arguments presented over the past week or two, I would no longer sign it.

  11. But you already allow for someone else to decide Tony. Indeed they (the British) impressed their right to do so at the point of a gun, at the expense of democracy and the democratic will of the people. So why you don't apply your logic in that instance I really can't tell. The only conclusion I can draw is you have surrendered to the power of their greater force, acceding to the notion of might equals right. Perhaps I'm wrong but it's still how it appears.

    This however is not about me or you but the Irish people and their democratic entitlements. Either their will is to live in a United Ireland or it is not. Why should that will defer to provisos as you insist upon? Those who insist it should can only be afraid of that will and what it means for their own private position. It is they who are outside the democratic process when all is said and done.

    What we must do in the eventuality of a 'Yes Vote' is insist the democratic process and the will of the people be respected. Why keep talking about force? Neither Kevin Martin or the 1916 Societies have mentioned force. Forget force, we need to see this through the lens of democracy and the right of democracy to go forward. Anything less is to empower the right of conquest at the expense of democracy.

    Coercion is a two-way street but you would barely realise that from the discourse on here. One form is held as acceptable, the other it seems is not. Either way the double-standard is so obvious, far being flippant it screams 'the wood for the trees'.

    So what is there to fear from allowing the democratic will to proceed is right. I have nothing to fear but the same can't be said for others on this forum - among them it seems now yourself. Why are you afraid of democracy or why do you seek to constrain it, effectively arguing against it? It honestly just does not make sense and defies your own logic.

  12. Sean,

    it gets more convoluted, which really just decreases the chances of it being an attractive proposition.

    Talk of surrender means nothing to me. Might as well tell me I have surrendered to the power of the devil for all it registers.

    What I have submitted to is the democratic will against the use of force to solve our problem. That submission comes from a recognition of the rights of others who do not wish the problem addressed with force.

    Neither you nor I can impose a limit on the right of the Irish people to decide on how they might want their preferences put into effect.

    So again, a very simple question: do the Irish people have the right through one all-island referendum to decide if they wish to have the country united by force. Or do they not have that right? It cannot be all that hard to answer.

  13. Your implicit presentation of republicans as warmongers intent on force for its own sake aside, yes, they do of course have that right and I have no issue with seconding that should it be freely determined by the Irish. But we must ask where any of this fits into what the Societies are forwarding. We are not intent on force but that the democratic will of the people be freely determined and in turn respected. If the democratic will is for Irish Unity then that is what should proceed.

    You seem to suggest otherwise and that rather than their will be respected it should instead be subordinate to the Unionist Veto, which has been incorporated into an agreement without democratic foundation, born of a process unilaterally framed by Britain to exclude the will of the Irish people. How can we label that which excludes the will of the people as democracy? We can't and if it's democracy we are truly after then let's just get it done. There should be nothing at all to fear.

    What are you afraid of, that others will respond with violence? If so then what of your logic regards 'coercion'? To me it suggests we should bow to the threat of force, which itself constitutes force, empowering the use of force to subvert the outworking of the democratic process. That you are prepared to surrender to that as though it were somehow democratic comes as a bolt from the blue to be perfectly honest. Regardless of the strategic merits of OIOV, it should not impact on our analysis of what constitutes democracy in Ireland.

  14. Again and before this proceeds, as no doubt it will, I say thanks for the opportunity to tease this out and have full respect for your opinions. I'm trying to find the common ground and not to push any buttons.

  15. Sorry to butt in here boys but anthony A very simple question for you do the Irish people have the right through an all island referendum to decide if they wish to continue to see their country devided and held devided by force?. It cannot be all that hard to answer. Your defence of the status quo just doesn't make sense to someone who would refer to themselves as Irish. No offence. I could never hope to be able to argue a point as well as you but I think you are like a lot of politicians recently you seem to have lost sight of the goal here.

  16. Sean
    Your analogy with Cataluña does not hold water. Cataluña is asking to leave Spain. Any vote would ask the people of Cataluña to vote: leave. What you want is to deny the people of Northern Ireland the same vote. You bang on about democracy without recognising that Northern Ireland exists and has existed for nearly 100 years. You may not agree with what happened regarding partition but it happened. There are 2 internationally recognised entities on this island. OIOV is trying to subvert that fact or quietly ignore the bleeding obvious.

    OIOV is asking to Ireland to speak as one when it is clearly 2 and has been so for a century. You cannot wish away the border or demand its end. This is where AM's question about coercion comes in to play. The Irish people have clearly stated on numerous occasions that they do not want to see Ireland united through coercion of the northern people. SF during the Troubles could not get above 10% of the vote until they recognised the North's right to exist. The Stoops regularly trounced SF. In the south their percentage was even lower. There is no appetite for unity against the wishes of the majority in the north. Northern Ireland is recognised by the UN and the people of this island, the people may not like it but they don't want its end to be undemocratic.

  17. Sean,

    what implicit presentation of republicans as warmongers? I am a republican that is not a warmonger. I don't view you as one. At the same time there are some who are.

    We agree that the Irish people should have the right to decide on how their preference is brought into effect. Does that mean you would not seek to deny them that right by opposing them expressing their preference through an all island referendum?

    Seeing that you do not oppose the expression of that right how long after your OIOV referendum should there be another? It seems a much easier matter of doing both together. How else is the preference for unity to be made manifest in policy if the structures that would express such a policy have yet to be agreed by the Irish people? A OIOV referendum is rendered useless if it cannot be decided how the outcome is to be actualised. It would have no status other than an opinion poll.

    From what we can see the Societies seem pretty much a non military body advocating non military means. But you claim they exist to have the will of the Irish people freely determined and respected. Which has to mean, if you follow through on that (and you agree that they have the right to determine how their preference is to work out in practice) that they can also decide via referendum whether they want their preference pushed through by coercion or persuasion.

    I am saying that the will of the Irish people be subject to a unionist veto. What I am asking is what are we to do when the Irish people decide that their will is for the status quo to continue until such times as a majority in the North decide on changing it? This is the very crux of the GFA and which some of us warned about at the time - it was designed to codify a situation whereby the Irish people would be the guarantor of partition. This is the real strategic success of the GFA against republicanism and the OIOV people seem not to recognise it.

    You tell us that if the "democratic will" of the Irish people is for unity then that should proceed. You catastrophically fail to tell us how. But this leads to another question: if the democratic will of the Irish people is for partition to continue until such times as a majority in the North decide otherwise, should that democratic will proceed also? Or is it only some democratic will that is to be respected but not another? Why not ask the people in your referendum (and allow them the right you say is theirs) the question that would allow you to find out both what they want and how they want it? The more people are allowed to empower and constrain those who seek to govern them is healthy for democracy. Expanding their choice rather than limiting it seems a most democratic thing to do.

    How can we label that which excludes the will of the people as democracy?

    Which is an argument for not excluding the will of the people via referendum on the issue of how they want their preference dealt with. An all island referendum that asks the people if they want the country united by coercion or persuasion is not excluding people from democracy but is including them in democracy. To deny them the right to settle that question would, I contend, be an exclusion from democracy.

    Am I afraid of people responding with violence? I imagine I would be insane not to be afraid of people responding with violence. It would be a violation of the national will if as you agree the people have a right to decide against it.

    Talk surrender all you want Sean if it makes you feel good. I don't mind in the slightest. It certainly does not make me feel bad. Pearse and the boys surrendered so as a 1916 type republican you should not get flustered about it one way or the other.

    The remainder of the last para is so torturous that I don't pretend to have tried to decipher it. Maybe there is some pearl of wisdom in there but the circuitry involved in trying to find it seems hardly worth the effort.

  18. AM

    Fair enough and I see your thinking. I fear that the same old rabble rousers in the PUL community would use it to shore up their own end however. Much like that prick Paisley did in the 60's.

    But regardless, I honestly cannot see this vote occurring in my lifetime. There has been no attempt on either side to build up any trust, and without trust this is doomed to failure.

    Sean, I must say I admire your persistence!

  19. Sean,

    whatever way it is tossed about here, the OIOV campaign has to successfully meet and overcome the type of issues raised in the course of this discussion. Otherwise, it seems certain to flounder. It seems to me that partition is something we will have to tolerate but never approve. Nobody yet from the republican camp has outlined a way of overcoming partition. Republican rhetoric from whatever quarter doe not cut the mustard. And that is me for bed!


  20. Anthony a chara, I'll keep this short given you're for the scratcher and hopefully we'll return to this tomorrow. I'm sincere when I say I thank you for the discussion and no, I do not hope to feel better by accusing you of surrender. I have not and would never do so.

    Not to ball-wash but I have absolute respect for you, both as a man and an analyst. The point is not to injure your feelings (as though that were possible says you) but to demonstrate how acceding to the Unionist Veto is to accede to the right of force, as though the imposition of partition by force has somehow been laterally legitimated through the contrived 1998 vote.

    Partition violates the democratic will so as republicans we should never make the argument it is an outworking of democracy. Quite simply it is not and indeed stands in defiance of its logic. Accede rather than surrender is perhaps a better term, without the connotations. All of that stands regardless of the realpolitik Peter and others allude to.

    With that said, it's important to me that republicans - especially young republicans - are presented with a campaign they can tie in with that charts a way forward in line with the will of the people for peace. But it must proceed from a republican analysis if it's to be of worth. That stands regardless of the strategic merits attaching to any such campaign, however underwhelming it may be at this point.

    I hope you can understand where I'm coming from. I don't want a generation of republicans condemned to be 'gaol-fodder' (as described recently by Francie Mackey). I don't want to see more needless suffering as that endured by too many homes and families in our beautiful wee country.

    For me it's important we use our time to set out an argument proceeding from the democratic position. It might not achieve much today or tomorrow but it will be there when required in the time to come. We cannot accede to the legitimacy of partition or the argument it upholds the will of the people. Surely we know it does not, surely we at least agree on that. Oiche mhaith agus codladh samh.

  21. Sean,

    a measured comment but ultimately one that moves the matter no further on. The essence of the critique being made against the OIOV campaign is that the national will is not violated by partition because partition is the national will. The Irish people have willed it as a means of dealing with the fact that they are not prepared to entertain coercing the North into a united Ireland.

    I might not like the national will nor approve but I can't cite being interested in the national will if I ignore it. And if I use arms against it I can hardly claim to be doing so to assert it. I will have to find some other reason to use arms but not the national will. This of course does not infer that the 1916 Societies have any inclination towards the use of arms.

    Given that there seems to be no agreement between us on what the national will actually is, a referendum would very quickly establish it: what do the Irish people will into being rather than what do they prefer? A preference tells us just that: a preference. A will is something else - at the core of it is what people are willing to do to actualise their preference. There is not the slightest inclination that they are willing to consider any option other than partition. They might only do so because they might consider it a greater injustice against real people born into the North rather than having seized it, to force them into a unified state.

    None of these matters are addressed by OIOV. It might be admirable that the Societies are trying to provide some republican activity to focus the minds of young people towards the will of the people for peace. But that falls far short of a strategy for a united Ireland.

    Ultimately those who step forward as defenders of the national will have an obligation to find out what that will actually is, no matter how uncomfortable it may be to their ideological certainties.

    That is not to say that the national will has to be endorsed. If the national will was to impose a Catholic ethos on the country I would defy it. But I would at least be doing so from the position of someone who did not insist on the national will being inviolable and I would be maintaining that I was violating that national will while articulating my reasons for doing so. I would avoid the pretence that somehow I in my act of dissent was championing the national will.

    People have always the right to dissent from the national will. How they express that dissent is another matter. This is what makes the OIOV campaign vulnerable: its insistence on championing the national will when in fact it is really championing what it would will for the people.

  22. Sean
    Fair play to you for coming on here to defend your ideas and kudos to you for doing it without resorting to intemperance! I think AM has asked some questions that you can't answer and points to the reason why the Societies are wasting their time on this.

    On a wider note would you be so kind as to answer some questions for me? On the Societies' website "aims and objectives" there is no mention of "peaceful means", what is the Societies' view on violence? How does it view, for example, the current activities of republican groups not on ceasefire? What is your relationship like with other independent republican groups? Do they support OIOV officially? Unofficially? Also there is no mention of the unionist community, are you actively trying to foster relations with any section of our community? And finally are the Societies 100% secular? Any feedback would be much appreciated.

  23. Anthony, having read over your commentary again this morning the first thing I'll say is that for me should a 'Yes Vote' result from a OIOV referendum it should of course be implemented by persuasion. Here I don't preclude the right to self-defence should it be necessary (and as we agreed previously) but yes, that is how the will of the people should go forward. So I am not failing to say anything and have answered every question put to me, both on this thread and the related other. Whether it altered your opinion at any point is one thing but you can at least give me that.

    My vision for the Societies and how our strategy should proceed is found in the Catalan model, which is to empower our argument and challenge opponents through democratic struggle from below. We have the right to try regardless of how adaptable that strategy may be to Ireland in her current state. I'm under no illusion as to the difficulties we face and the magnitude of our task. I see the time ahead as the 'lean years' Mk.II and with the same in mind believe in the need to reorganise ideologically first and foremost. This discussion is invaluable towards that end but while grateful to all who have done so, in particular yourself, I just wish more would contribute.

    Have other republicans, some who not only sowed the seeds but raised the crops, assisted our current state? I can't argue with that and know full well why you persist with that logic. They presided over a monumental fuck up that represents a massive strategic defeat and they have part-responsibility in all of that. Don't think I don't know this. I just don't believe we should compound the problem by falling in line with the defeat. Instead we should challenge the bona fides of what transpired and there remain a multitude of ways we can do so while forwarding a so-called 'peace strategy'. I have more to say on other points raised but first need to update the website.

  24. Anthony, just getting back to this. If what I put forward is Point A and your proposed 'addendum' Point B then you cannot give form to the latter without undermining the former - they can't proceed together as the latter usurps the former, constraining its actualisation and preventing it being realised. That is the purpose of the consent principle, to thwart the outworking of democracy that a contrived end be achieved - in this instance to uphold partition over and above the will of the people.

    We can call this what we like and genuflect to its mastery. We can marvel at the skill of the execution and condemn those who made it ours but please, let's not call it democracy or the national will.

    Instead why don't we expose it for what it is and demand that democracy go forward - as it should if we are serious in our commitment to it. I thought that's why you signed the petition and that's what we spoke about on the way home. So for you to say you would not sign were it presented again is disappointing - even if I don't believe you wouldn't do so (I read your comments as the back-and-forth of debate rather than a fixed position).

  25. "the first thing I'll say is that for me should a 'Yes Vote' result from a OIOV referendum it should of course be implemented by persuasion"

    Thanks for clarifying your personal position Sean. It would be useful too, I'd contend, if that were to be firmly established as the collective position of a majority also. So why not support formatting any question(s) put before the people of the island in such a way that that information could also be gleaned and confirmed?

    It seems likely that an aspiration for unity would more easily be confirmed if it included expressed limitations as to how that should come about. The 'National Question' would not have been fully settled but the means for settling it would at last be irrefutably democratised.
    An accompanying tripartite agreement scheduling for further plebiscites at set intervals would leave the process for possible re-unification not only more honest and transparent but further embed that clearly stated commitment to democracy.

  26. Sean,

    I don't think you have answered my questions at all, and even then very slowly but that is fine, no point in rushing in if further reflection is needed.

    But at least we are not at one of the irreconcilables: how would you persuade the majority in North? The campaign seems wholly unable to persuade the legislative bodies that would legislate a referendum into being. Nor has it identified the legislators it hopes to persuade. The Dublin government can't run a referendum in the North without the agreement of the British government.

    But set all of that aside: in what way would your current position different from SF's when it boils down to persuasion? Are the OIOV campaigners going to be genuine in their persuasive attempts in a way that SF is not? Even if we accept that how do you actually persuade in this strategy of persuasion you say you are committed to?

    If you are searching for a national preference you do not need the second question. We can have a referendum which expresses nothing more than an aspiration and then go home and go to our beds. If you search for a national will then you would. This is the age old problem of the magical fly killer Sean: killing flies is not the challenge, catching them is.

    The second question is an essentially democratic question in that to borrow a phrase from Henry Joy the means of how we settle the matter are also democratised. Sean this was all predicted. There is nothing new in it. I don't know if you attended the RDS in the fall of 1995 where I outlined to a gathering of a thousand of how things were going to pan out on this very question. My growing apprehension at the time was that once this was accepted it was game over as far as republicanism was concerned. Now I am firmly convinced of it.

    But another question: do the Irish people have a right to OIOV on the second question or should they be denied that? Are there some things that they are not allowed to decide on by the OIOV campaigners?

    I appreciate that you do not hold me to what is said in the comments section where we practice our ideas rather than commit to them. Only by practicing them can we improve on them and that takes a measure of risk and intellectual promiscuity. However, having listened to the arguments presented over the past week or two, I would not sign the petition in the absence of the second question. It seems such a straightforward question, a logical extension of the first rather than an usurpation of it, that I can see no reason for being afraid of the people having their say. It would be a one Ireland referendum, not done in two part, not a border poll. Yet you seem fearful of it.

  27. Far from being afraid of it Anthony I would have no issue with OIOV being framed to ensure persuasion, not coercion, is used to 'compel' the North. Indeed I have never argued otherwise in the course of these discussions and have long held force to serve the occupiers agenda and not our own. (We should be careful to note that none of that precludes the right to self-defence, as we've already determined elsewhere).

    While I would not concede your provisos requirement I respect why you hold it an important issue in the context of our history. But with that said, where I'd take issue would not be with the above but with the awarding of an undemocratic veto to unionism. That's where I cannot go - sure isn't it the reason we argued against the Agreement in the first place. That a 'de facto' veto might come to exist through a commitment to peaceful persuasion does not concede its legitimacy - and that for me is as far as I can stretch.

    Indeed if we were to proceed along the line you advocate we would successfully remove the mostly unspoken-of British government veto over Irish Unity (contained in the Triple Lock), reducing the matter to a decision for the people of Ireland alone. Through this we can chart a path to Irish Unity; through the Good Friday Agreement we cannot. So most certainly I have no fear of such a departure.

  28. I had meant to pass comment last night on the dreadful news coming out of Inishowen, where a family were drowned in the sea outside Buncrana. Mind-numbing, it really is. I drove past where it happened less than an hour beforehand on my way home from a break in Donegal. Who would have thought this possible? Puts our own trivial differences in a bit of perspective. May they rest in peace.

  29. Sean,

    a terrible tragedy which is not easy to push to the back of the mind. The courage of the guy who saved the baby was so selfless, we can but solemnly admire the man. The problems we think we have shrink when put alongside what happened last night.

  30. Indeed. It's just absolutely surreal, it's very upsetting. I cannot imagine the grief for the mother and the wider family. For the man that helped the anguish must be unimaginable. It goes without saying but for those affected life will never, ever be the same. My stomach is in knots just writing this and my wife is in tears beside me. It really is beyond belief.

  31. Over half of Irish people want a united Ireland

    OVER HALF OF Irish people would like to see a united Ireland. The findings are contained in a Claire Byrne Live/Amárach Research poll for TheJournal.ie that was carried out today.

    The question was posed “Would you favour a united Ireland?”

    54% of people said yes.

  32. Thanks Frankie,

    haven't got to the full data yet but the information in your link clarifies that the survey of 1,000 is confined to citizens of the 26 counties, weighted for CSO demographics and confined to smart phone users. No consideration of those in the wee six or dumb phone users!

    I wonder as to how the question was framed; was it asking about a nebulous aspiration or did it enquire of a firm and immediate commitment to Unity?

    Anecdotal conversations over the years with people down here about Unity suggests that most are somewhat like Ignatius in his pursuit of chastity; sure, they aspire to it ... but not just yet!

  33. Am I the only one waiting on Sean's answers to Peter's questions?

  34. Apologies Steve, I was more focused on the debate with Tony about what constitutes democracy and simply forgot. After the discussion wound down due to the drownings in Inishowen - a place I hold dear - I thought we'd pick up whatever needs thrashed out again. And no doubt we will. I have a piece going up tomorrow as far as I'm aware so it can possibly be dealt with over there. Alternatively, I can give it some thought tomorrow but will need to re-read what was said. For now though I'm off to bed. Oiche mhaith a chairde.

  35. Steve,

    I think Sean is right - the ardour for the discussion seemed to dissipate when that tragedy in Buncrana occurred.

    In relation to Sean's arguments (possibly in response to his democracy piece rather than this one) someone who wanted to comment tried to post two comments in support of Sean which did not come through to either the blog, the spam section of the blog (where sometimes comments get automatically sent by blogger) nor did we get Blogger email notification of the comments which invariably happens even when comments are automatically sent to the spam section.

    Sean referred the issue to us although without a copy of the comments being sent either to him or to us there is not much we can do.

    People who comment on the blog are advised to make a copy of their comment so that they can be resubmitted in the event of there being a gremlin at work somewhere along the line.

    Sean's arguments might not have been as isolated as a reading of what appeared in the comments section would make them appear. It is important for TPQ that it provides the widest possible band of ideas.

  36. As I was saying elsewhere Anthony, I don't mind if my argument appears isolated when the discussion itself is what's important. It was a useful discussion and offers a better idea to the reader of the issues that will be important going forward, if constitutional change should occur. I suppose in that sense perhaps the most important query, which did as Steve notes go unaddressed, is how can Irish Unity reconcile with the British identity of the Ulster Protestants and how can we shape an Ireland that includes them and assuages their fears going forward. The position of the Societies reflects the 1916 Proclamation and its assertion that all of the children of the nation be treated equally. I suppose you could say we imagine a civic society based on the principles of equality, secularism and non-sectarianism, one where divisions of the past give way to a common future. Rhetoric I know but it still stands.

  37. Sean,

    that's fine in so far as it goes and you can obviously deal with it but a feeling of isolation can dissuade others from making a case. So it would have been better had those comments from the guy that that never made it thru were to have appeared during the discussion. It would have allowed for an atmosphere where more voices might come forward. We used to cite a comment on The Blanket that people would rather be wrong than isolated. So they would stay with the wrong programme rather than risk isolation. This is why it is important that as many dimensions as possible are considered and why we are always pour cold water on suggestions that this or that should not be discussed.

  38. I get much by way of positive feedback from others who read the conversations but don't contribute. So that's good enough for me. As I've said on a few occasions though, I just wish more people would join in, especially from a OIOV perspective. I think the problem is Facebook to be honest and came across an interesting article by an Iranian dissident and blogger - he was known as the 'Blogmaster' but can't recall his name - which touches on that subject, about social media, people's attention spans and the death of the permalink. Very good it was and something I could relate to. Regardless, there seems to be an interesting mix going on at the minute in terms of the OIOV discussions here on TPQ, what with a trio of unionists (Peter, Steve and HJ - with the odd guest appearance from Robert), the like of Kevin, yourself, myself and some of the guys from Buncrana pitching in. It's certainly worth the effort to bounce things off each other as far as I'm concerned, no matter how limited the participation.

  39. Good man Sean,

    but you'll need a bigger key than that to wind HJ up.

    There's a substantial difference between a pragmatic partitionist and a Unionist.

  40. A 'pragmatic partitionist' who not only argues for the merits of the Unionist Veto but takes glee in doing so is a unionist plain and simple. But yes, it was a wind-up a chara. Couldn't help it but fully deserved all things considered!

  41. There is no doubt that a veto exists but I wonder how useful is now is to see it as a unionist veto exclusively. That seems to mean Northern nationalists are not responsible for it also. I think the argument can be made that the veto is now a shared veto rather than a unionist one. That will hardly make it any more palatable to republicans but they should realise that northern nationalists have also vetoed a united Ireland.

  42. Sean,

    I am a Socialist first and foremost. I may be from and understand the 'PUL' community, but I am also VERY critical of their leaders and their actions.

    As I have said to you before, as long as physical force is not involved then I have no problems with a united Ireland. It's been clearly demonstrated that violence has advanced nobodies agenda one inch in NI.

    Holding onto weapons as a means of 'defense' could be construed as a threat to the other community, would you not agree?

  43. Sure Sean,

    you're well entitled to attempt the occasional 'wind-up'.

    As AM points out though Nationalists have exercised their veto also on a United Ireland. Indeed if we look at the mandate the SDLP secured throughout the violent years its becomes apparent that a majority of Nationalists opposed Republican means of achieving a United Ireland. Even if an aspiration for Unity was there at all, a majority always rejected violence as a means to achieving it.

    Realising this and to secure electoral success Provisional Republicans adapted and adopted the policies of the 'Stoops'. As Mallon famously quipped the slow learners eventually got a grasp of what had been on offer years earlier in the 'Sunningdale Agreement'.

    The main merit in having another vote would be to clarify beyond doubt and completely democratise the already largely accepted limitations on how we achieve Unity.

    Then there'd be no need for any more of this torturous ambiguity about the retention of arms for defensive purpose or otherwise . Steve's comments highlight the counter-productive futility of such like rationalisations of some so called 'republicans'.

  44. @ AM

    "You tell us that if the "democratic will" of the Irish people is for unity then that should proceed. You catastrophically fail to tell us how. But this leads to another question: if the democratic will of the Irish people is for partition to continue until such times as a majority in the North decide otherwise, should that democratic will proceed also? Or is it only some democratic will that is to be respected but not another? Why not ask the people in your referendum (and allow them the right you say is theirs) the question that would allow you to find out both what they want and how they want it? The more people are allowed to empower and constrain those who seek to govern them is healthy for democracy. Expanding their choice rather than limiting it seems a most democratic thing to do.

    How can we label that which excludes the will of the people as democracy?"

    I'm sure Antony from your responses on the thread that you are playing devil's advocate.

    The major issue, which we are avoiding here and which is rather sad in a forum such as this! As it is rather massive Elephant, even in the biggest of rooms, is that of sovereignty. That how the people of the Six Counties have elected to forgo there electoral mandated control of Six Counties, in other words their sovereignty to a wholly unaccountable body, which is beyond their control, Westminister. This not democracy in any sense of word!!

    That anyone who presents themselves as progressive even in the slightest sense of the word, who gives credence to a minority of narrow minded bigots in this island, that haven't the confidence in their own ability to self govern, who would rather let a Tory cabinet of Millionaires ripe our infrastructure to shreds over ideological whim rather than facing up to the real realities of what real democracy entails, have serious questions over their own motives and agendas hanging their heads.

    For all OIOV's 'So Called' failings in terms strategy etc, it is actually the only contemptoray political concept which has any real teeth, because it is the only one that actually questions sovereignty, and unless you have sovereignty which is accountable. Then you do not have Democracy.

  45. I agree with Sean O'Bro. I do not agree with the notion that anything can not be changed even the GFA or that anything is permanent. I do not agree that we have to accept anything that is wrong or devised through deception and even coercion. In fact it is our duty not to accept it and to try to confront it.
    I believe that it is the overwhelming wish of the Irish people to have a peaceful democratic solution and this has to be demonstrated by all sides especially the British.
    The OIOV is a manifestation of all this. I see AM's point but don't think that 'coercion' is the right word and the two choices somehow contradict each other. Perhaps any referendum should have one question like 'should Ireland be united democratically and peacefully'.
    The main point is this referendum is a 32 county one. However, this referendum, whether it comes to anything or the establishment allows it, is symbolic and political and as such it is important.
    One last thing there is a time and place for being a devil's advocate, satirical etc but in a discussion like this maybe best to be frank.