Conor Lynam with a new poem from his expansive collection. 

Let no man say that 1916 failed.
Dreams, impossibilities and sacrifice never favoured the weak.
Struggles are for the strong, the patient and the unrepentant.
In arms a republic was declared, blood and butchery from the British followed.
But now the wind is changing direction, the dream is almost realised.
800 years of resistance, an unstoppable movement.
Our time is close, our resolve remains, our commitment is concrete.
Call us dissidents, whatever that might mean.
Try to terrorise us, do your worst.
We are almost there, and will not be stopped.
Beautiful things take time to perfect.
Patience, resilience and resistance.

Others fell, they left without goodbye.
They chewed the cud, and greedily gobbled over the graves of the great.
They dined with the enemy, laughed, smiled and washed their filthy food down with Irish tears.
Remember them when they knock,
Asking for ballots.
Remember Pearse, Emmet, and countless others first.
Remember who the dissenters really are.

1916 did not fail.
It awoke a slumbering nation and encouraged the fight.
The Unfinished revolution, that soon will no longer be a dream.

Baptised in British blood our brave will never be forgotten.

Remember Sands and the selfless struggle that is self sacrifice.
There are places within that they can never touch.
Places that remain unbroken.
The ones that fought, died and dreamed of a republic.
We salute them one and all,
and their flame will never be extinguished.
It lives on, sometimes the smallest of flames can spark the most magnificent fire.
Cupp your hands around it, nurture it, feed it and will never disappoint.

In 1916, at Easter, a people that swore an oath,
The Irish people.
The Patriots that refused to play dead as bloody British boots tried to trample over our flag.
They tried to suffocate the struggle, they failed.
And they forever will.

Before you go, before you forget.
Remember the bold, remember their dream.
Remember this city is ours,
Remember Belfast is too.
Remember that borders exist on maps only.
Never forget the fallen.
The streets run red with rebel blood.

⏩ Conor Lynam is a campaigner with the IRPWA

Unfinished Business 2019


Conor Lynam with a new poem from his expansive collection. 

Let no man say that 1916 failed.
Dreams, impossibilities and sacrifice never favoured the weak.
Struggles are for the strong, the patient and the unrepentant.
In arms a republic was declared, blood and butchery from the British followed.
But now the wind is changing direction, the dream is almost realised.
800 years of resistance, an unstoppable movement.
Our time is close, our resolve remains, our commitment is concrete.
Call us dissidents, whatever that might mean.
Try to terrorise us, do your worst.
We are almost there, and will not be stopped.
Beautiful things take time to perfect.
Patience, resilience and resistance.

Others fell, they left without goodbye.
They chewed the cud, and greedily gobbled over the graves of the great.
They dined with the enemy, laughed, smiled and washed their filthy food down with Irish tears.
Remember them when they knock,
Asking for ballots.
Remember Pearse, Emmet, and countless others first.
Remember who the dissenters really are.

1916 did not fail.
It awoke a slumbering nation and encouraged the fight.
The Unfinished revolution, that soon will no longer be a dream.

Baptised in British blood our brave will never be forgotten.

Remember Sands and the selfless struggle that is self sacrifice.
There are places within that they can never touch.
Places that remain unbroken.
The ones that fought, died and dreamed of a republic.
We salute them one and all,
and their flame will never be extinguished.
It lives on, sometimes the smallest of flames can spark the most magnificent fire.
Cupp your hands around it, nurture it, feed it and will never disappoint.

In 1916, at Easter, a people that swore an oath,
The Irish people.
The Patriots that refused to play dead as bloody British boots tried to trample over our flag.
They tried to suffocate the struggle, they failed.
And they forever will.

Before you go, before you forget.
Remember the bold, remember their dream.
Remember this city is ours,
Remember Belfast is too.
Remember that borders exist on maps only.
Never forget the fallen.
The streets run red with rebel blood.

⏩ Conor Lynam is a campaigner with the IRPWA

24 comments:

  1. Beautiful thing - shaped from the corpses of thousands of men, women and children. It appears that rebel blood means much more than theirs. If a UI emerges from that murderous soil, it will be cursed.

    The only UI worthwhile would be one gained with the free consent of the PUL people. But at the moment no one would want to be a part of a nation run by unrepentant murderers of their people.

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  2. Wolfsbane - yet you expect nationalists in the North to be part of a nation run by unrepentant murderers of their people: the government that has not only sponsored state terrorism but inflicted it, and to boot has been busy helping in the mass murder of civilians in Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq. How many corpses of men, women and children do you think the government you currently live under has been responsible for? Is partition not then similarly cursed? 50% + 1 is all that is required for a UI. There is no easy way to resolve the matter but you could at least spare us the cant.

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  3. Presumably that’s the British state you’re referring to, Wolfesbane? Couldn’t agree more. Speed the Irish Republic — under whose realm we will finally, at last, know peace.

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  4. Did Conor Lynam not get the memo after the murder of Lyra McKee? Your struggle is over; defeated. You really do have a problem with the critical mass of the Irish people exercising "their right to do wrong".

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  5. As far as I'm concerned the struggle goes on

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    1. As in 'armed struggle' which a broad majority of the CNR populace have always rejected?

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  6. AM,

    I've no problem deploring the unnecessary suffering inflicted on the Irish nation over the centuries. But we can't change that. We can change how we handle differences between us now. Partition was one way to stop a civil war, so was worth it. A pity both sides could not have agreed a partition instead of having one imposed. An agreed Ireland would also have been possible - if the Irish had been willing to have the British Irish as co-inhabitants and equal partners, instead of a Catholic Gaelic-dominated Ireland where we would have been no more than a defeated minority. All the equality talk was on the basis that we became Irish, rejecting our ethnic roots. The way the Free State/Republic developed shows that was so. Where was the celebration of British identity?

    I agree that the British Empire was theft and oppression just as all Empires are. I'm sure an Irish Empire would have been no different.

    The Irish seem happy enough to occupy the land of the native Americans, Australians and New Zealanders. So I assume they take things from where they are, rather than try to alter the flow of history. Same for us PULs. It would have been good had Britain never invaded Ireland and planted it. But it did and we PULs are here. So lets agree a way forward that respects both nations on the island. There are several possibilities I can think of that might work. But a Catholic Republic is not one. Nor is a Socialist Republic. Nor is a Gaelic Republic.

    All suggestions welcome.

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    1. Wolfsbane - none of that explains your use of a double standard.

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  7. I would be very keen to hear your own suggestions, Wolfesbane. The Éire Nua Plan is for me the only serious effort undertaken thus far. I recently spoke alongside a loyalist ex-prisoner in Belfast on the subject and he remarked that it was something that appealed to Ulster Protestants in the event their preferred constitutional outcome, the retention of the Union with Britain, should ever come to be no more.

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  8. AM,
    I don't see a double standard, as I regard an unagreed Partition as not the ideal. Expecting either side to submit to the other was and is not good. But better than a civil war.

    Nor do I write off combatants who used terror and murdered non-combatants, their neighbours. I expect them to have reflected now that the heat of conflict is over and they have had lots of time to do so. To remain unmoved and unrepentant is a mark of a hard heart that is heading for divine retribution. And the mark of a person I would not like to rule over me or mine.

    Both sides have cause to repent of a lot of their actions. The whole conflict indeed was the result of a too quick resort to arms. An immediate defence of one's community was understandable, but the use of terror to pursue a war was not.

    Let's acknowledge whatever part in our unjust war we played, and not boast about it. Regret, mourning, and a patient attempt to get an honourable settlement are what is needed.

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  9. Sean,
    I'll get back to you once I have reviewed again the EN Plan. I take it the definitive version is available on-line?

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  10. Wolfsbane - often the problem with double standard bearers is that they don't see the double standards they bear. You don't want to live in a united Ireland governed to some extent by people you call murderers but are content to live under a government largely run by people you don't call murderers but who are responsible for much worse than anything republicans ever did.

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  11. AM,

    Sorry, I should have been clearer. I don't want to live in a UI ruled by those who have murdered my kith and kin and still celebrate the fact.

    That I live in a nation ruled by those who have murdered in unjust wars I find regrettable too, but at least we can change them at each election. The British people have the power, if they are wise enough to use it. But being a minority in a UI the PUL people would not have that option.

    Of course, it is the personal element that makes the difference - the Iraq War and other ventures did not involve our neighbours setting up and murdering us. Our work mates did not betray us and murder us. Nor are they celebrating the fact. They may have murdered countless thousands more than the IRA ever did, but not among us.

    I expect Irish nationalists and republicans to have the same feelings about a Northern Ireland ruled by unrepentant comrades of Johnny Adair and Billy Wright.

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    Replies
    1. but you remain relaxed about nationalists living under a government that engaged in state terrorism against them and which continues to cover up the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their kith and kin. There is as much a personal element there. I don't want to be ruled by a government that is up to its neck in mass murder and widespread starvation in Yemen and I don't know why you would either.

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  12. Sean,

    I've read over 'Éire Nua – A New Democracy', and Finnian O Domhnaill's 'eire nua - unionisms last hope' article.

    The promises of respect and accommodation for our Britishness are welcome. But I ask you to consider the problems that we might have in relying on such promises.

    Many of the same people who spoke of “religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens . . . cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the
    differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past” in the 1916 Proclamation went on to establish a Catholic State where Protestants were in a form of dhimmitude not unlike the Catholics in NI. A Catholic State for a Catholic people - a Protestant State for a Protestant people.

    But let me respond to some specifics from the document:

    'The Éire Nua programme provides for a strong provincial and local government in a federation of the four provinces, designed to ensure that every citizen can participate in genuinely democratic self-government, and to guarantee that no group can dominate or exploit another.'p3

    I don't see how a regional government in a 9-County Ulster, with a Gaelic/catholic majority, would guarantee the rights of the British/Protestant minority. An appeal to the Central government would be an appeal to an even bigger Gaelic/Catholic majority.

    'There is an Irish nation which is based on an organised society and distinctive culture, with roots stretching back more than 1,500 years. This Irish nation has long endured invasion and colonisation by a more powerful neighbor. For more than 800 years the Irish people have heroically resisted this aggression and each generation handed on the torch of liberty to the next. Over the centuries the descendants of many of those who came as conquerors were assimilated and were accepted as Irish. Some of the Anglo-Norman families, for instance, became “more Irish than the Irish themselves” and have made an enormous contribution to Irish life, including the struggle for freedom.'p5

    The assumption here, it seems to me, is that the Irish nation is identified as the Gaelic nation, and the invaders/planters are expected to assimilate with it, to adopt the Gaelic identity. Is it to be a New State, not a New Irishness? Is the New Ireland to be the uniting of Gael and Planter into a new Irish nation, or the assimilation of the Planter into the Gaelic nation? The reality is that there are two nations in Ireland, and a union of them is not the assimilation of one by the other.

    Granted, equal respect for Planter and Gael would be a difficult thing to ensure. The heroes of one side may be the villains of the other. Until Cromwell and King William III are recognised as heroes as much as their Catholic counterparts, we have a problem.
    Part 2 to follow.

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  13. Sean,

    Part 2:

    Some positive comments:
    'Sinn Féin Poblachtach regards the European Union, as it has developed and continues to develop, as a modern form of imperialism. It serves the interests, above all, of big business and the super-rich. Corruption is rampant there also as we saw in 1999 when the whole EU Commission had to resign. It is undemocratic in its institutions and it is overcentralising; in this it runs counter to the 13 Republican aims of increasing the democratic power of citizens and decentralising decisionmaking to manageable units where all citizens can participate in a meaningful way.'P12/13

    That's why I support Brexit - not for any British imperialist longings.

    'Article 3. Every citizen has the right to freedom of conscience, to free choice and practice of religion, and to the free and open teaching of ethical and political beliefs. This includes the rights to freedom of assembly, the right to peaceable association, the right to petition, and the right to freedom of expression and communication. P17
    Article 9. In the exercise of their rights, citizens shall be subject only to such constraints as may be necessary to ensure recognition and respect for the rights of others and the welfare of the larger community.'p17

    If implemented, this may well give more protection to my Christian free-speech than the UK will have in a year or two. Respect for the liberties of others to live their own life-styles is fine, but we should not be obliged to declare it moral, or be silent as to its immorality. The persecution of Christian bakers for not decorating a cake with a gay slogan had to be appealed to the Supreme Court to be rectified. If a New Ireland had true libertarian values, that would be welcome.

    A suggestion that might be helpful to the IU case: a state where the Planters and Gaels would each have a veto on matters that effected their identity, similar to the present Assembly veto. We have the luxury of using the veto and still being maintained by the UK, but an independent Ireland would not have that easy resort to veto - it would be a big issue that would warrant it and both sides would feel the pressure of making things work.



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  14. AM said:
    'but you remain relaxed about nationalists living under a government that engaged in state terrorism against them and which continues to cover up the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their kith and kin. There is as much a personal element there.'

    I see the Westminster Government as an outsider to our essential oneness as Northern Irelanders. Yes, they used terror in their war against terror - and if it was a matter of those individuals being lauded or even being themselves part of a future government of Northern Ireland, then I agree that it would be unacceptable for many nationalists. I'm content for Westminster to deplore the terror, and I would do the same if the Republicans did the same. But the latter boast of their terror campaign rather than regret it. They eulogise the murderers of innocents. How could a unionist be happy in a UI led by people who think like that?

    The British Government at least lie about their part in the terror - a few bad apples, no structured policy, etc. But what would the offence be if they came out with justifications for their terror; eulogised the players who shot and bombed innocents? Their lying is deplorable, but not as brazen as the IRA politicians!

    I'm saying we unionist/loyalist and nationalist/republican people should acknowledge the sins/crimes we have committed against each other in pursuit of our national aims, accepting there was and is a better way to solve the problem of two nations in one land. That we failed to do all in our power to peacefully resolve our differences. We may plead ignorance and reacting to provocations, and those indeed are mitigating factors. But confess it we must.

    Then address the problem again - with all the tragic knowledge we have learned in the conduct of our Troubles.

    'I don't want to be ruled by a government that is up to its neck in mass murder and widespread starvation in Yemen and I don't know why you would either.'

    To be free from a government that did not ally itself in dubious conflicts would be a great feat. But the complexity of international relationships requires an on-going campaign of investigation and criticism/opposition, not shutting our state off from international relationships. The best we can impose is a non-involvement in others' quarrels. That should include a ban on supplying arms. But then we might need to give some support to oppressed innocent nations - so a difficult line to observe.

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  15. Wolfsbane - is this not part of the problem when you see things in a certain way and then expect nationalists to have a similar view when they look through different eyes at it? Nationalists generally do not see Westminster as an outsider but as an integral part of the problem. Nor is your essential oneness as Northern Irelanders shared. Their own terrorism was part of a dialectic which helped provoked a war on their own terror. You seem to think the government lying is a good thing whereas nationalists are calling for the to stop lying and tell the truth.
    And you are still happy to live under the rule of the British crown which has massacred throughout the world and is currently up to its neck in Yemen but not happy to live under a government where the odd IRA person or more might be in government only after they have sold their souls.

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  16. AM

    If the nationalists have an economic solution to separation from the UK, then they should present it along with their offer of cultural inclusion of the Planters and the Gaels. I know many nationalists would eat grass if they could get a UI, but we unionists wouldn't.

    No, I don't think the government lying about the Troubles is a good thing - just that it is less offensive to victims than boasting about it, which republicans do. But neither can the government be blamed for initiating the terror in the late Troubles. That seems to me to be down to both of our communities reacting and overreacting, then a deliberate decision being taken to wage a war to oust the British. That gave rise to their use of terror to suppress the republican terror.

    I would not be disturbed 'to live under a government where the odd IRA person or more might be in government only after they have sold their souls'. Every nation has its extreme elements. But I would be disturbed to live in a nation where unrepentant terrorists form the government.

    The present British government has its problems, but those are common to big nations. The supply of arms to Saudi Arabia is a moral question that needs discussed - there may or may not be balancing elements in the decision. Are the rebels those we would prefer to control Yemen, etc? Should NATO forces have been involved in the Balkans? When did Serbia become our enemy and Albania our friend?

    Maybe you have had all the relevant information on which to make a choice in each of those. I haven't.

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  17. Wolfsbane - the nationalists don't really need to present anything other than the 50 per cent + 1. Any nationalist who would eat grass just to be in a UI can have my share too because I will not be eating any.
    The British state boasts about it role in the troubles while lying at the same time. It boasts that it was a piggy in the middle rather than a player.
    The later troubles as you term them were characterised by a large measure of infiltration and agent running. The British state arguably was even more responsible at that point that it was at the start. That is not to absolve the rest of us.
    You live in a state at present formed by unrepentant terrorists who have waged state terror and are currently sponsoring it in Yemen.
    All you are really telling us is that the big thieves hang the little ones.

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  18. AM

    Sorry to be late in replying. Holidays!

    Yes, they do need more than 50% + 1 - if they want a viable UI. Otherwise many PULs will leave or stay and do all they can to undermine the State. Sound familiar?

    The rest of us have enough blame without making out the British Government were the main source of our war. They would gladly have had NI progress under O'Neill; many of them would gladly supported our merging with ROI. They truly had no selfish or strategic interests in keeping NI British. But they were stuck with us, and did begin as piggy-in-the-middle.

    When the war caught hold, the military interest began to drive policy, as far as I can see. Anti-terrorist strategy and tactics were imported from foreign campaigns and refined. But being who we are, that did not succeed either. At least, not for the short war I'm sure they hoped for. "Bash the paddies and we'll be home for Christmas" idea.

    So NI became a testing ground for European counter-terrorism in the middle and long term. Agents, double agents, etc.

    On the political side, several attempts were made to get an Agreement from both sides - but all were scuppered by the Unionists or IRA, or both. So the military intelligence war became the main lever for future negotiations. Multiple agents and players to make the price of continuing the war unacceptable to the IRA and Loyalists. Ramping up the cost to the IRA and their supporters seems to have been the main idea. To show that they would never get a UI by violence. I believe it worked.

    That was the aim - ending the war. Not keeping NI British or merging it with the ROI. So the Belfast Agreement came to be, and we have hobbled on since. Bit by grudging bit. Not the best way to end a war, but better than the alternative. How much better it would have been if all parties had sat down and genuinely tried to meet the concerns of the other side!

    So I don't class the British Government and their army as the 'big thieves' in NI. They may well be outside the UK, and have their place with the other powerful states. We - the Republicans and Loyalists - were the instigators of the war and kept it going. The Brits just used terror to end the terror, professional players in a dirty war. Those elements of the Army and MI who used terror are terrorists like our own terrorists - I have no problem believing that. And as far as it got political sanction, the politicians involved are also terrorists.

    I'm saying to you that our problem is not the British Government and their forces, but us. If we want to defeat each other, we are to blame. If only one side wants to defeat the other, only that side has the blame. So what is it? If we don't want a UI, we can clear off? If you don't want a British NI, you can clear off? That's what got us into the war in the first place.

    What about finding a solution that we both can live with? Our common ground is NI and the folks who live there. Our neighbours. Not GB or ROI. I'm sure we can find a solution that may involve either ROI or GB or both or neither. That is, if we really care about our neighbours.



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  19. Wolfsbane - just as the North only needs 50% + 1 to stay in it also needs only 50% + 1 to leave. That is what it says on the tin. That is what the North signed up for. Those who threaten violence against the internal democratic decision can expect to be faced down.
    The stability of it is quite another matter and I anticipate it working out along the lines discussed by Richard Humphreys where the whole thing will move rather slowly.
    But to be fair, it no longer taxes me as it once did. I more identify with Europe than Ireland. The never ending pity party that is Northern politics stupefies me. The contempt for anything but lining their own pockets and forging ahead with their political careers hardly merits comment, the most notable but not sole case being Paisley Jnr.

    Anyway, hope you enjoyed the holiday. The height of my season is the threat by a Free Presbyterian minister to come along in August and take me out for breakfast! He took me out last year but I enjoyed it immensely so I hope he manages to make it.

    As they sometimes say, hard to hate people you break bread with. Maybe more should be doing it!

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  20. AM

    'Wolfsbane - just as the North only needs 50% + 1 to stay in it also needs only 50% + 1 to leave. That is what it says on the tin. That is what the North signed up for.'

    Indeed. That was the stupidity or craft of both Unionist leaders when they talked of the 'will of the majority' and included the Nationalists in that. As you know, that was not the position of historic Unionism, who held to the right of the Ulster Scots nation to determine their own future apart from the Gaelic nation. But that's what we got with Molyneaux and Paisley, and later the Belfast Agreement, so I reckon we have only ourselves to blame for our Nationalist neighbours assuming a simple majority is sufficient to bring acceptance from the Unionist people.

    'Those who threaten violence against the internal democratic decision can expect to be faced down.'

    Yes, but would a sullen and at times violent minority be an acceptable price for attaining a UI? A NI rerun? Will Gardaí riot squads and anti-terror units be kept busy for a decade or so?

    'The stability of it is quite another matter and I anticipate it working out along the lines discussed by Richard Humphreys where the whole thing will move rather slowly.'

    Yes, 'rather slowly' might cover it. IF goodwill existed among the Unionists and they participated in the State. Just might happen if the present mutual veto Assembly ran Ulster affairs in a Federal Ireland. An Assembly where SF was not trying to use the Assembly to bring an unwanted change of nation. Maybe. But if goodwill did not exist, no participation in the State might be one course for Unionists, or participation to subvert the State.

    But the economics may make it all moot. The assumption that the Brits will pay for a UI is extremely debatable, despite the confidence of some: "The Oireachtas report states that the current full Northern Ireland deficit should continue to be paid by HM Treasury for a period of 30 years after a vote for unification. This could be a hard one to sell to the British."

    'But to be fair, it no longer taxes me as it once did. I more identify with Europe than Ireland. The never ending pity party that is Northern politics stupefies me.'

    I share your pain, but not your vision for the EU.

    'The contempt for anything but lining their own pockets and forging ahead with their political careers hardly merits comment, the most notable but not sole case being Paisley Jnr.'

    Yes, I'm sure Jnr thinks it makes him fit in with the boys of Westminster and the Dail, but it is despicable for a party professing to be moral examples.

    'Anyway, hope you enjoyed the holiday. The height of my season is the threat by a Free Presbyterian minister to come along in August and take me out for breakfast! He took me out last year but I enjoyed it immensely so I hope he manages to make it.'

    That's good to hear concerning a FP minister! The church seems to have had a rethink about political involvement and become more concerned with behaving as Christians. May you both have a beneficial engagement. Maybe some day we can meet up and have a coffee or lunch together. And if you are up this way speaking I would be interested and would make it if I could.

    'As they sometimes say, hard to hate people you break bread with. Maybe more should be doing it!'

    Amen to that! ;)

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  21. Wolfsbane,

    you would need to make a very persuasive argument for the right to an Ulster Scots nation to even get remotely across the line. How many unionists identify as Ulster Scots? While it is never wise to generalise my own experience of talking to loyalists is that they laugh at it and define themselves as Northern Irish. British or Ulster people. There have been unionists (TARA) who believed they were the lost tribe of Israel. A crackpot idea. Ulster Scots is not as braindead but by how much I am not sure.

    What it says on the tin is what will have to be defended. It would mock everything we have ever heard to think otherwise. We can hardly argue minority rule.

    The South might not vote in favour of a UI but I think they will, despite the lack of interest.

    I have neither vision nor love for the EU - I feel European for reasons wholly separate from it. Although I prefer the EU to Brexit.

    Of course we shall have coffee - not that I get up there but if you plan on getting down here give me a shout. The Free P minister has a deliciously wry sense of humour

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