Tommy McKearney writing last summer was less than impressed by ideas from a book by the late Seamus Mallon.

June 2019
Seamus Mallon’s recently published book A Shared Home Place is not merely an unhelpful contribution in a difficult situation but is positively dangerous.

Thanks to his profile as a former leading member of the SDLP and former deputy first minister, he is gaining publicity for an ill-conceived and poorly thought-out proposal that might otherwise be dismissed as the musings of an old man. 

Mallon insists in his book that in the event of a border poll a return of “50 per cent + 1” in favour of unity should not be sufficient to end partition.

Not only would this be yet another perversion of democracy but it would have consequences even more damaging than those envisaged by Mallon.

The northern state was created in the first place by riding roughshod over the expressed wishes of an overwhelming majority of the Irish people. Thus founded, Northern Ireland’s ruling elite continued to govern for decades, with little or no concern for democratic norms. To once again set out a constitutional template giving precedence to the wishes of a minority would have continuing and dangerous implications for democratic governance in Ireland.

Bear in mind that Seamus Mallon is not alone in advocating this position: Leo Varadkar said much the same last year in Belfast, while the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is also on record as saying that 50 per cent + 1 ought not be enough to end partition. If unionism is not bound by adherence to a universally understood application of democracy, might a property-owning elite not adopt a similar position in the event of a socialist government coming to power in Ireland?

However, apart from these admittedly important philosophical questions, there are serious practical issues that have to be considered when discussing this matter.

The first difficulty thrown up by the Mallon line is that we no longer know what percentage is required to bring about change. If 50 per cent + 1 is not enough, what arbitrary level should be acceptable? And what message would this send to dangerous and intransigent elements within unionism? Telling those reactionary elements that threatening or practising violence secures their place within the United Kingdom would guarantee that very outcome. If ever there was such a thing as a self-fulfilling prophecy, surely this is one.

Anybody with even a superficial understanding of Northern politics knows only too well of an almost irresistible tendency within unionism for its leaders to be pushed towards the “not an inch” and “no surrender” position. Terence O’Neill, Brian Faulkner and David Trimble all fell foul of what we might now describe as Orange populism. So, instead of encouraging “understanding and reconciliation” within Northern society, Mallon’s proposal would simply give an incentive to irreconcilable loyalism.

As a consequence, it would undoubtedly marginalise and intimidate the emerging unionist middle ground, leaving it subject to well-practised accusations of Lundyism or possibly worse.

Moreover, and apparently overlooked in this discussion about unionism’s response to a poll favouring Irish unity, is the reaction from within the republican/nationalist population in the Six Counties.* What might be their response if told that nothing changes after gaining a democratic majority is surely the second and possibly greater flaw in Seamus Mallon’s thinking.

Left abandoned by the Southern state in 1921, and subjected for decades thereafter to the systemic injustices of the Orange state in the North, there is little affection within the republican/nationalist community for the political entity that is Northern Ireland. This community is unlikely to remain indifferent or passive if denied what has long been promised, i.e. that a vote to leave would be respected.

This throws up at least two unpalatable scenarios.

For a start, there is the obvious fact that even a slim majority in a border poll would be reflected in the make-up of any devolved administration. Under existing arrangements, this would mean a non-unionist first minister in charge of an administration with an anti-partition majority elected by a disgruntled community. Faced with an aggressively hostile unionism, and in order to appease its electorate, the assembly would probably introduce nationalistic legislation.

Imagine the tremors that would convulse many unionist circles when parity of esteem would be granted to Irish, to flying the Tricolour, and to enhancing all-Ireland institutions. How could peace and reconciliation prosper in that climate?

And this is the more benevolent scenario. It hardly needs pointing to something still more serious. There is the distinct possibility, indeed probability, of an intense republican armed campaign. How would a British government then defend its decision to ignore the democratically expressed wishes of the majority of people in Northern Ireland? How long could London sustain support for such a position? And what scale of catastrophe might ensue if it were forced to withdraw in the face of domestic and global condemnation? How, indeed, would a Dublin government respond to such a situation?

Ideally it would be best if 100 per cent of the North’s population were to vote Yes in a border poll. Common sense indicates that this is a pipe dream; and therefore the next-best option, even if deemed the least-bad one, must prevail. Standing firmly over the democratic norm of 50 per cent + 1 offers the only viable option. It brings clarity and therefore reality to the process. Avoiding the ambivalence of a movable, arbitrary ceiling would force all concerned, including both states and people, to think seriously about the future.

Moreover, and contrary to Mallon’s jeremiad, by making it clear that a majority vote would be vigorously upheld would offer positive benefits. In the first instance it would become clear that violent resistance is futile while simultaneously strengthening the case of those advocating positive engagement.

Finally, though, none of the above removes the enormous onus that is on those advocating an end to partition to engage positively with the unionist population. Let us keep in mind that many in that community view the prospect of constitutional change with deep apprehension and fear. It is important, therefore, to argue persuasively and to convince them that socialist republicanism does not view this step as crude annexation by the “Free State.”

It is vital that our unionist neighbours (and indeed all workers) come to understand that they are being invited to join in the building of a new and better political entity in Ireland—a workers’ republic.

It has to be made clear that such a republic will not only guarantee freedom of conscience but will also provide a better standard of living for all. To do this requires the development of a programme encompassing these objectives.

In January of this year many of our readers and their friends gathered in Liberty Hall, Dublin, to celebrate the centenary of the first Dáil and to promote a Democratic Programme for the 21st Century. This initiative offers the opportunity to address these issues, but it must be developed and built upon by working at the grass-roots level to involve people meaningfully at the heart of political and economic life. We have to demonstrate to people what a progressive and thoroughly democratic Ireland will look like.

Let us therefore lay to rest the profoundly undemocratic notion being promoted by Seamus Mallon in A Shared Home Place. The elderly politician waited eighty-two years before writing this, his first book. It would be helpful if he waited another eighty-two years before writing a second.

*Republican/nationalist: Neither term is perfectly accurate in all cases, but it is used here for the sake of brevity.

Seamus Mallon, 2019. A Shared Homeplace. Lilliput Press. ISBN-13: 978-1843517870

Tommy McKearney is a left wing activist and author of

An Unhelpful Contribution

Tommy McKearney writing last summer was less than impressed by ideas from a book by the late Seamus Mallon.

June 2019
Seamus Mallon’s recently published book A Shared Home Place is not merely an unhelpful contribution in a difficult situation but is positively dangerous.

Thanks to his profile as a former leading member of the SDLP and former deputy first minister, he is gaining publicity for an ill-conceived and poorly thought-out proposal that might otherwise be dismissed as the musings of an old man. 

Mallon insists in his book that in the event of a border poll a return of “50 per cent + 1” in favour of unity should not be sufficient to end partition.

Not only would this be yet another perversion of democracy but it would have consequences even more damaging than those envisaged by Mallon.

The northern state was created in the first place by riding roughshod over the expressed wishes of an overwhelming majority of the Irish people. Thus founded, Northern Ireland’s ruling elite continued to govern for decades, with little or no concern for democratic norms. To once again set out a constitutional template giving precedence to the wishes of a minority would have continuing and dangerous implications for democratic governance in Ireland.

Bear in mind that Seamus Mallon is not alone in advocating this position: Leo Varadkar said much the same last year in Belfast, while the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is also on record as saying that 50 per cent + 1 ought not be enough to end partition. If unionism is not bound by adherence to a universally understood application of democracy, might a property-owning elite not adopt a similar position in the event of a socialist government coming to power in Ireland?

However, apart from these admittedly important philosophical questions, there are serious practical issues that have to be considered when discussing this matter.

The first difficulty thrown up by the Mallon line is that we no longer know what percentage is required to bring about change. If 50 per cent + 1 is not enough, what arbitrary level should be acceptable? And what message would this send to dangerous and intransigent elements within unionism? Telling those reactionary elements that threatening or practising violence secures their place within the United Kingdom would guarantee that very outcome. If ever there was such a thing as a self-fulfilling prophecy, surely this is one.

Anybody with even a superficial understanding of Northern politics knows only too well of an almost irresistible tendency within unionism for its leaders to be pushed towards the “not an inch” and “no surrender” position. Terence O’Neill, Brian Faulkner and David Trimble all fell foul of what we might now describe as Orange populism. So, instead of encouraging “understanding and reconciliation” within Northern society, Mallon’s proposal would simply give an incentive to irreconcilable loyalism.

As a consequence, it would undoubtedly marginalise and intimidate the emerging unionist middle ground, leaving it subject to well-practised accusations of Lundyism or possibly worse.

Moreover, and apparently overlooked in this discussion about unionism’s response to a poll favouring Irish unity, is the reaction from within the republican/nationalist population in the Six Counties.* What might be their response if told that nothing changes after gaining a democratic majority is surely the second and possibly greater flaw in Seamus Mallon’s thinking.

Left abandoned by the Southern state in 1921, and subjected for decades thereafter to the systemic injustices of the Orange state in the North, there is little affection within the republican/nationalist community for the political entity that is Northern Ireland. This community is unlikely to remain indifferent or passive if denied what has long been promised, i.e. that a vote to leave would be respected.

This throws up at least two unpalatable scenarios.

For a start, there is the obvious fact that even a slim majority in a border poll would be reflected in the make-up of any devolved administration. Under existing arrangements, this would mean a non-unionist first minister in charge of an administration with an anti-partition majority elected by a disgruntled community. Faced with an aggressively hostile unionism, and in order to appease its electorate, the assembly would probably introduce nationalistic legislation.

Imagine the tremors that would convulse many unionist circles when parity of esteem would be granted to Irish, to flying the Tricolour, and to enhancing all-Ireland institutions. How could peace and reconciliation prosper in that climate?

And this is the more benevolent scenario. It hardly needs pointing to something still more serious. There is the distinct possibility, indeed probability, of an intense republican armed campaign. How would a British government then defend its decision to ignore the democratically expressed wishes of the majority of people in Northern Ireland? How long could London sustain support for such a position? And what scale of catastrophe might ensue if it were forced to withdraw in the face of domestic and global condemnation? How, indeed, would a Dublin government respond to such a situation?

Ideally it would be best if 100 per cent of the North’s population were to vote Yes in a border poll. Common sense indicates that this is a pipe dream; and therefore the next-best option, even if deemed the least-bad one, must prevail. Standing firmly over the democratic norm of 50 per cent + 1 offers the only viable option. It brings clarity and therefore reality to the process. Avoiding the ambivalence of a movable, arbitrary ceiling would force all concerned, including both states and people, to think seriously about the future.

Moreover, and contrary to Mallon’s jeremiad, by making it clear that a majority vote would be vigorously upheld would offer positive benefits. In the first instance it would become clear that violent resistance is futile while simultaneously strengthening the case of those advocating positive engagement.

Finally, though, none of the above removes the enormous onus that is on those advocating an end to partition to engage positively with the unionist population. Let us keep in mind that many in that community view the prospect of constitutional change with deep apprehension and fear. It is important, therefore, to argue persuasively and to convince them that socialist republicanism does not view this step as crude annexation by the “Free State.”

It is vital that our unionist neighbours (and indeed all workers) come to understand that they are being invited to join in the building of a new and better political entity in Ireland—a workers’ republic.

It has to be made clear that such a republic will not only guarantee freedom of conscience but will also provide a better standard of living for all. To do this requires the development of a programme encompassing these objectives.

In January of this year many of our readers and their friends gathered in Liberty Hall, Dublin, to celebrate the centenary of the first Dáil and to promote a Democratic Programme for the 21st Century. This initiative offers the opportunity to address these issues, but it must be developed and built upon by working at the grass-roots level to involve people meaningfully at the heart of political and economic life. We have to demonstrate to people what a progressive and thoroughly democratic Ireland will look like.

Let us therefore lay to rest the profoundly undemocratic notion being promoted by Seamus Mallon in A Shared Home Place. The elderly politician waited eighty-two years before writing this, his first book. It would be helpful if he waited another eighty-two years before writing a second.

*Republican/nationalist: Neither term is perfectly accurate in all cases, but it is used here for the sake of brevity.

Seamus Mallon, 2019. A Shared Homeplace. Lilliput Press. ISBN-13: 978-1843517870

Tommy McKearney is a left wing activist and author of

35 comments:

  1. Republican/Nationalist works for me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What is so appealing about a United Ireland save the romance?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm of the view that if a majority (+1) vote for a UI in NI then so shall it be.

    I'm looking at the political landscape of the South and it seems to be a bit of a mess just like the North.

    No idea what Mallon was on about either. The main conflict isn't about Unionists/Loyalists and Southerners, it's the hatred of the Northern Shinners.

    Without the Shinners there'd be a United Ireland tomorrow!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Naturally the higher the vote the better but SK's argument of the benefits of a united Ireland aren't the most convincing; namely freedom of conscience - we have that now. And a united Ireland does not mean it will be the workers utopia he envisions.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Steve, Economies of scale. They would work on an all-islands basis as well if it wasn't for the democratic deficit and frankly hateful way the Irish were treated by Britain. They don't treat their own people particularly well and the Scottish people are keen to leave too. Having a one island economy, one tax system, health system, public transport system etc makes sense economically.

    The value of making the major decisions for the people of this island by the people of this island can't be overstated.

    We are a neutral country and many of us don't support fighting the endless inhumane wars in the Middle East. The Irish have played a major part in fighting for the Empire and I long for the day that ends, for the British peopld too. Stop sparking international conflict, millions of dead and refugee crises please

    ReplyDelete
  5. A cara Tommy, the ranting of a comfortable old man who never really had to face the harsh reality of Catholic life in occupied Ireland, in the first, and please bear in mind the lack of support for democracy expressed by the EU recently regarding UK exit from their empire and the decision of the Catalan's to depart Espana, both democratic decisions following a vote.
    Given where you grew up you will be aware that the principle reason for 'unionism' is simply greed, holding the land stolen from the indigenous population, and even the working class Protestant in the Moy or Moygashel felt they had a stake in unionism despite being despised by their overlords, 'one man one vote' was as necessary for them as for their Catholic neighbours in the period following the return of the Stormont dictatorship, why we got the emergence of the DUP.
    Stupidity is common in Ireland, simply look at the recent GE in the saor stat but were we to achieve the 50%+ 1 which should come next year, eighteen years before these children can vote us out of their empire, then this is what we have to live by, for my own part I wish no part in the 'second Republic' if we go back to the state of having 86% of our law's imposed by those we cannot elect and the remaining 14% having to comply with the diktat of their treaties but hopefully by then the threat to our children and grandchildren will have abated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Menace

      Seamus Mallon lived grew up in Couny Armagh with personal experience of the rottenness of the Stormont regime which he worked to rectify, not through a futile armed struggle, but through the Civil Rights Movement and later the SDLP. He fearlessly denounced violence from all sides; the forces of the state, Republican and Loyalist armed groups. His relentless campaiging to get to the truth behind the Shoot to Kill policy and his frequent calls for the abolition of the UDR among made him a target for Loyalist asssasins in a part of the country where the Glennane Gang was active.

      He persoanlly witnessed the murder of many friends and made a point of going to the funerals andx wakes of all Trouble victims in his area, IRA volunteers; RUC and UDR members and uninvolved Catholics and Protestants.

      For most of his political life, Seamus had to exist on expenses and the earnings of his wife Gertrude who worked long hours as a nurse. Not for him, the salaries and retinue of SPADs for Sinn Fein Ministers and MLAs in the "Sunningdale for Slow Learners.

      Seamus Mallon's life was not that of "a comfortable olds man who never reallyk had to face the reality of Catholic life in occupied Ireland" and it is a gross travesty for you, Menace, to say so.

      And finally, if we have learnt anything from the Brexit referendum it is the sheer folly and danger in taking monumental decisions on the basis of narrow majorities in binary referendums.

      Delete
  6. Steve R,

    What's so appealing about a United Kingdom save the romance?

    What's so appealing about having a United France or Germany?

    Would English people tolerate foreign partition of England?

    Why do you hold the Irish and Ireland to a different standard?

    Since only traitors & carpetbaggers like invaders or occupiers.

    And as much as I don't like the Shinners either...

    It's the British who maintain their partition of Ireland.

    The operative word here is "their" not yours or mine.

    ReplyDelete
  7. A happier way to achieve a UI would be to gain the vote of the majority of the Unionists. Sort of like the Belfast Agreement vote had to carry a majority in both NI and ROI.

    That would guarantee a peaceful transition.

    But it will not happen if we Unionists feel we will be second-class citizens in this new Republic. It needs to be a British and Irish Republic. An acknowledgement that two peoples are uniting to form one new nation. The new nation should not be Irish, with former British as a minority. The British and Irish Republic of Ireland would have equal respect, as NI is supposed to have now for its British and Irish components. Shouldn't be too hard, as we have lots of experience in a contested atmosphere now, so should be easy in a final settlement.

    I doubt if changing a Catholic Republic for a Marxist knew will gain any traction among most Unionists. I think most Nationalists would stand by us on that.

    If this all is too much to bear for the Gaels, be they Catholic or Marxist, the only other peaceful resolution would be repatriation of every Unionist who did not want the new UI, to GB. And perhaps an exchange with Irish people currently in GB. Property exchanges facilitated by the governments. The candidates would be qualified by the way they voted in the Border Poll that gave rise to the change, so it would have be be a registered voting choice, with only the No vote being eligible for compensated repatriation.

    Any help?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Eoghan
    What is so appealing about a United Kingdom is the great benefits that we enjoy. On a day when an American kid with coronavirus died after being refused a hospital admission because he hadn't health insurance, I can say that would never happen in the UK because NOBODY is refused care at British hospitals, and for all UK citizens and most Europeans it is completely free at the point of use. The health service in the republic is not free at the point of use and is not as good as our NHS. Also last week the UK government announced that it would pay 80% of the salaries of all those who lose their jobs during the current crisis. We in NI benefit greatly from the union. I don't know where you live but you seem to me like one of these republican dreamers that foolishly cling to the glorious republic pipe dream.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Peter, a little disingenuous of you, comparing the NHS with the Republic of Ireland by giving an example of someone who died in the USA of all places.

    The NHS is definitely a benefit of staying in the Uk but I am not an expert on the Southern system and based on your arguments, I doubt you are either.

    In Northern Ireland, after 40 more ventilators arrive next week we will have one ventilator for every 10,614 people. In the Republic of Ireland there is one ventilator for every 3,769 people.

    The Republic of Ireland's health system is far from perfect. 30% of the population are on the medical card system as they otherwuse couldn't afford healthcare. I don't know many who are keen for taking the Republic's system lock, stock and barrell into a united Ireland.

    Sinn Fein say it is "committed to the realisation of a world-class system of universal health care, accessed on the basis of need, free at the point of delivery, and funded by progressive taxation for the Irish state." Sounds like if there was a united Ireland you would vote for Sinn Fein, if health care is what is most important to you.

    The percentage of early leavers from education is higher in the UK than in Ireland and educational attainment is higher in the Republic than in the UK according to EU statistics. I know education isn't indicative of standard of life or quality of life. Both jurisdictions need to tackle many other issues, homelessness,for example. The Southern government wouldn't get my vote but I would want people on this island, making decisions for people here. An all-Ireland economy would ne boosted by economies of scale.

    Would you vote for a united Ireland if it had a better health system, Peter?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Simon - it is not a wise rule of thumb to go by individual experience but with that caveat in mind my own experience of health care down here has been more positive than it was in the North. I think the GP service up there is for the optics and people like those in West Belfast get a doctor but not always proper medical care. The greedy rich have been moving to destroy the NHS through privatisation. But this is still Rip Off Ireland. Still, nobody gets turned away. I think private medicine is a bad reflection on a society although not on private practitioners as such who can deliver a very capable product. Anyone voting for SF on the basis of what it promises would be foolish. It would simply rename the virus and claim to have cured it. SF are not going to make the slightest change to health care down here or anything else for that matter. My observation of them over the years has been that they are eager to be just like the other parties, not dissimilar to them.
    But it is interesting how both you and Peter place healthcare at the centre of the debate. When we do that we reveal something to ourselves that we might previously have suppressed. For example when thinking about it a while back, if offered the choice between a UI with its current healthcare system and rule by London that delivered a world class state of the art healthcare system I would prefer the latter. That is in an ideal world which does not currently exist. Nationalism means nothing to me but I would be more persuaded by your logic than I would by Peter's. However, I think you are wrong to dismiss him as being disingenuous when all he really is doing is expressing a different preference based on his won experience.
    Otherwise, I hope you are well - good to see you commenting again. Check the last comment you posted on Booker's Dozen as I am going to respond to that,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AM, thanks for the response and welcome back. I was only messing Peter about with my Sinn Fein example so it was unfair of you to give him a quick get out clause. Lol

      My point was that unionists who would never vote for a united Ireland and nationalists who always would, will argue their case no matter what. My original points above in the fourth comment were the ones that immediately came to mind, not health. Although it is interesting that is where the debate led.

      The private sector should not be allowed into the public domain, with prisons, schools, health, transport or anything else for that matter.

      The argument from my first comment (#4 above) would be

      1. Economies of scale
      2. People on this island representing themselves
      3. No longer having to hold responsibility for endless wars across the globe. Maybe not individual responsibility but certainly on a national level.

      I forgot in my original post to mention Britain's hereditary system. To paraphrase Tony Benn, if I went to my dentist and they said 'I am not a dentist but my father was one' I wouldn't be happy. Why should we accept heriditary systems in other spheres of life?

      I like the idea of a Republic although the Scottish policies on bread and butter issues currently are to be admired despite them being keen on retaining the monarchy.

      Delete
    2. "rule by London that delivered a world class state of the art healthcare system I would prefer the latter." Your credit is misplaced. Be in no doubt the NHS has had plenty of tax payers monies threw its way over the years and wilfully squandered and siphoned by corrupt management and top doctors. It should indeed be a 'world class' health system with all them monies, but there's many that can say it is certainly not. Watching BBC shows like casualty and Holby is mere propaganda on behalf of the State.

      Delete
    3. Simon - I favour a Republic much for the same reasons you have outlined. My main attraction to republicanism these days is the secular element to it. I have no real interest in nationalism, preferring the concept of society to that of the nation - to the extent that we can realistically separate the two. Because nationalism is Janus faced, my attitude towards it is always conditional. I certainly don't believe in obligatory nationalism any more than I believe in obligatory Catholicism. Ultimately, the society that best supports a quality of life for its citizens is what I favour.

      Delete
    4. Yes, quality of life trumps much else and I'd include doing our best for people of other nations, particularly if significantly worse off, if at all possible.

      I read Richard English's book on Irish Nationalism and if memory serves me correctly he has a chapter on the meaning and conflicting definitions of the word 'nationalism'. It isn't necessarily an unhelpful or divisive thing yet it too often has negative conotations.

      Delete
  11. Barry, I should beg to disagree and I am one who can remember the early civil rights marching.
    Following one I remember rioting with the RUC while Seamus Mallon went off for his tea in a local hostelry with none other than his fellow first minister so no, his experiences were nothing like those of the author and others who were shot, blown up and persistently harassed by state paid paramilitaries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Menace

      I acknowledge your personal experienes but I would judge Seamus Mallon and any other public figure on the totality of their public life not on individual anecdotes written from subjective perspectives.

      Seamus is to be judged by his total opposition to violence (for which he got in the neck from Provos as well as Loyalists and state forces) and injustice and for the generous and inclusive from of civic nationalism which he espoused in his later life.

      Delete
    2. menace,

      "Following one I remember rioting with the RUC while Seamus Mallon went off for his tea in a local hostelry with none other than his fellow first minister so no, his experiences were nothing like those of the author and others who were shot, blown up and persistently harassed by state paid paramilitaries."

      Surely that says more about Mallon's aversion to violence than anything else?

      Delete
  12. Anthony, I am pleased that your experiences of healthcare in the Free State however this has not been the experience of everyone.
    The key thing is, in the six counties we actually pay more than in the Free State with VHI et. Al however, one pays for what one gets

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Menace - which is why it is never wise to generalise from our personal experiences. My experience of both says there is not a lot of difference. But we need to assess the strengths of each in more objective terms than personal experience.

      Delete
  13. Simon
    That made me chuckle, you thinking that the Shinners will deliver an NHS!!!! They are great at lies and murder, not much else. You also don't mention the British stimulus package. Britain is still a big hitter economically and I feel much safer in the UK than with a second division government that needed bailed out 10 years ago. Maybe the Shinners will provide an NHS and Brexit will cripple the Brits, maybe then I will consider a UI. Though the thought of alternating governments of ultra nationalist FF/SF and right wing god botherers FG/DUP doesn't appeal in the slightest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peter - this seems an attempt to derail the discussing rather than engage with Simon. The Shinners will never deliver an NHS but the lies and murder is a weak one given the history of the British state. And some of us recall the British economy being bailed out in 1976 by the IMF. Brexit will probably cripple the Brits. It is probably reasonable to imagine they have handled it no better than they did this virus. As bad as the government we have here is (not just the current incumbents) they have made the British look stupid in respect of both Brexit and Covid19. FF are not ultra nationalist by any stretch of the imagination and the nationalism of SF is more for party political advantage than any love of nationhood. FG are certainly right wing but much a god bothering outfit than the DUP and less so that FF. There was more disquiet in FF about Repeal than there was in FG.

      Delete
  14. Yes, the British stimulus package during this pandemic is greater than that of the South but my point on economies of scale stands. A united Ireland would throw harder punches due to economies of scale and eventually the British could save themselves the bother of subsidy.

    I would be happier in an country which isn't the sixth biggest arms manufacturer in the world. Your point about lies and murder could easily be put against any British government down the years but on a global scale. They are running the NHS into the ground but you're happy as long as those arms shipments and murder overseas keeps the economy going.

    I like our independence although there is much work to be done with Shannon Airport, rendition flights, etc.

    If you think the bailout was philanthropic think again. It was just another major investment.

    Britain is a major player economically because it colonised most of the world through pillage, murder and torture not just down to great brains like those who created and nourished the NHS. I welcome the genius of the NHS but moreover I reject Britain's genocidal past.

    You remind me of Varadkar describing Venezuela's economics as disastrous without mentioning the elephant in the room which was sanctions. You also remind me of those who romantically follow Nationalism without any insight. All your arguments are rose-tinted and one-sided. Funny that.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Simon
    "I would be happier in an country which isn't the sixth biggest arms manufacturer in the world" - but presumably you are happy in an EU that exports arms around the world?

    "If you think the bailout was philanthropic think again" - I don't, why would I think it was anything other than long term investment?

    "Britain is a major player economically because it colonised most of the world through pillage" - as is the case with all empires including the RC church. What is your point? How far back in a nation's history should we be ashamed of?

    "You remind me of Varadkar describing Venezuela's economics as disastrous" - I used to live in Madrid during the Chavez years and I rented my spare room for 3 years to a Venezuelan girl. I followed the situation very closely and listened intently after she returned from visits there, and to describe Chavez's policies as anything other than disastrous is laughable. Get your red tinted specs off!

    "You also remind me of those who romantically follow Nationalism without any insight. All your arguments are rose-tinted and one-sided" - you got all that from short comments? LOL

    ReplyDelete
  16. Peter - I doubt you will find much sympathy here for the RC Church - not much to choose between on its evil empire and the British one. I don't know about Simon but I would rather be in the EU than outside it. There are great reasons to be outside the EU but Brexit just wasn't one of them. The EU is the cause of much grief but in terms of militarily ravaging other societies it pales into insignificance compared to the British. I take it for granted that you resolutely oppose the recent (not ancient) history of British atrocities from the Iraq war on including its arms sales to Saudi Arabia for its war on Yemen.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I potentially would have voted for a left wing brexit but definitely not one that leaves the UK to the mercy of the Tories. I am not happy with arms production anywhere.

    I am not a big fan of the Church. How far back in history do we need to go? Your country is still at it and doesn't look likely to change. How about Iraq or even the bombimg of Yemen which is coordinated by the UK who also were involved in supplying arms, equipment and training. People warned a war in Iraq would create bigger problems, would spread across Middle East and kill hundreds of thousands if not millions of civilians. Yet, the UK government went ahead with its war. It wasn't a hundred years ago. It's never-endimg.

    Chavez' policies worked for the majority, increasing literacy rates and quality of life for example. Venezeula's elite were normally whiter and they didn't want their wealth shared with the larger Mestizo poor who were mixed race. It is a largely racist and classist problem. The rich bought into the sanctions and the coups. Chavez was elected, fairly according to independent observers. You should read a little more and stop basing your knowledge of a country on your house-mate's perspective. I am not a red. I see the advantage of socialism when compared to capitalism but my focus would be on sustainability and welfare so in that respect I am more of a social democrat. You don't have to be a Communist to understand the crippling power of sanctions, sure that's why they are enforced.

    They may be short comments but they were all one-sided. You criticised Eoghan as "one of these republican dreamers that foolishly cling to the glorious republic pipe dream." You criticised me for wearing "red-tinted specs". All from short comments. You really don't understand irony do you? Or hypocrisy.

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  18. AM
    I too would rather be in the EU than out, I didn't vote for Brexit and as I said that may change everything. I also am not going to defend the British government's foreign policy but having lived in Madrid for 6 years it made me appreciate the Uk more. The UK is a brilliant country, better run than most, more tolerant than most, with great culture and freedoms, rich and prosperous, good healthcare, diversity etc. To leave it for some FF/FG/SF/DUP Irish utopia is a no go for me. As I said maybe Brexit and the Shinner's shiny new NHS will change my opinion. But I doubt it.

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  19. Peter, I agree the UK is generally a multicultural society which is definitely a big plus. The NHS is definitely a big plus. We differ on political allegiances which will lead to opposing perspectives.

    To me an attractive prospect with unity is for people on this island to make decisions on behalf of people on this island. I have mentioned a number of pros and cons with the united kingdom system but for me and a growing number of others a united Ireland is attractive.

    The polls which ask 'Would you vote for a united Ireland tomorrow' are misleading as many would vote for one if it was properly planned but not in an ad hoc referendum tomorrow. Still, support remains untested.

    Good luck and stay safe.

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  20. Simon
    I have read dozens of Eoghan's posts not a few and your assertion that Chavezs' policies worked for the majority is the sort of nonsense that can only be said by a person with red tinted goggles on. I have read widely on Chavez and heard multiple anecdotes from multiple sources, and as a Spanish speaker have read articles from South America. When you remove all dairy farmers for being bourgeois and hand production to clueless party hacks then the ensuing milk shortage is absolutely inevitable. There were multiple similar mistakes and his critics include notable socialists. When a leader replaces a corrupt regime with another corrupt regime he is unworthy of his position.
    I am not a British nationalist, nor a loyalist, nor even a big U unionist. I have voted APNI in the last 2 elections. I think both Boris and Corbyn are clueless, and will not defend British foreign policy, I just see many more benefits to a United Kingdom.

    Stay safe yerself.

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  21. Peter,

    You said: “I have read dozens of Eoghan's posts not a few”.

    Atta boy! Keep up the good work.

    But you also said that I was:

    "…one of these republican dreamers that foolishly cling to the glorious republic pipe dream."

    Why foolish? Why a pipe dream?

    Isn’t France a united republic?

    As is Germany, Italy, and the US among others.

    In my lifetime I have seen Germany & Vietnam reunited as Republics.

    So, why do you hold the Irish & Ireland to a different standard?

    Would you have clung to the glorious US pipe dream of South Vietnam?

    If so, why so and if not why not?

    Because if you really don’t support British foreign policy…

    Then why do you support British rule in Ireland?

    Or are you one of those colonial dreamers who foolishly cling to...

    Maggie Thatcher’s glorious “British as Finchley” N.I. pipe dream?

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  22. Eoghan

    Once again when your assertions are challenged then you resort to "who is not with me is agianst me" false accusations or assumed positions of the the person who comtradicts you.

    France, Germany, Italy and most other democratic nation-states or Republics because they have a demos; that is there is a shared notion of the legitimacy of the political system and territorial boundaries of the state. Apart from Catalonia, the Basques, Corsicans and Bretons there are no serious ethno-nationalist divisions in these states not any conserted efforts, past or present at secession.

    Despite its federal nature and its recurring culture wars, the USA also has a demos of sorts. Ireland before 1921 and the state of Northern Ireland conspicuously did not have a shared demos because of the presence of substantial national minority populaces who, in the former case, were opposed to any seperation from the UK and, in the latter, disputed the state's legitimacy and authority.

    Germany and Vietnam (and Korea and Yemen) were partitioned as a result of Cold War geo-politics not because of ethnic or nationalist divisions which led to the partitions of Ireland (and Cyprus and {Palestine).

    To point out the differences therein is not a norrmative attack on the aims and ambitions of Irish Nationalists/Republicans nor to defend the totality of each partition solution and any injustice which it led to. It is simply a statement of reality that on the island of Ireland there has always been a national minority that does not consider itself to be part of an Irish nation and has no desire to be part of an all-Ireland unitary political arrangement. That of course is not a defence of the means used by the political leadership of that national populace to secure and maintain their supremacy merely a statement of reality which some nationalists, like the late Seamus Mallon, engaged with and wnhich others, notably the armed groups wnhich fought such a futile struggle did not.

    So it is not a question of holding the Irish and Ireland to a different standard as there is disagreement over who the Irish are and besides Irish identity is much more plural now. It is one of securing agreement among the variety of people on the island (for which the GFA is a starting point) rather than insisting on a priori "one and indivisible Republic" based purely on territory.

    And no one has ever agreed that NI is "as British as Finchley". It differs in so many respects.

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  23. Eoghan

    The US is as divided as it's been since the civil war and Italy is a massively divided country between the rich "cultured" European north and the "peasants| of the poor Mediterranean south. I can recommend the Maradonna video on Netflix where you see the sectarianism the Napolese face when they play Juventus and Inter. You may want to rethink your examples.

    You are a foolish dreamer because, as I have argued ad nauseum in previous posts, there will never be a 32 county Brit-hating republic. That ship was sunk before it could even sail, thanks to republican violence. Today's Irish kids are an eclectic mix, many are Eastern European with more arriving by the week. Many in the south are unwilling to risk a UI and many in the north don't want it. If there is a UI it will be some loose hybrid/joint sovereignty/commonwealth member type state with much mutual kowtowing and stroking of egos. The UI republicans want and killed for is a pipe dream.

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  24. Barry,

    Geo-politics has many clothes and configurations, the cold war being just one of many.

    As such, it is simply a statement of reality that on the island of Ireland there has always been a democratic national MAJORITY that does consider itself AS WELL AS ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE ON THE ISLAND OF IRELAND to be the Irish nation. AND FACT THAT AN UNDEMOCRATIC IMPERIAL GERRYMANDERED MINORITY has no desire to be part of an all-Ireland unitary political arrangement IS SIMPLY A FUNCTION OF BRITISH MIGHT MAKES RIGHT.

    Which is why England insists on a priori "one and indivisible ENGLAND+" based purely on territory.

    And IF no one has ever agreed that NI is "as British as Finchley”, then tell Newton Emerson that:

    Newton Emerson:

    “I do not feel Irish in the slightest. For people my age Northern Ireland really was as British as Finchley.”

    Tue, Sep 13, 2016

    https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/newton-emerson-i-do-not-feel-irish-in-the-slightest-1.2788939

    That all said, I don’t think Peter needs your help.

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  25. Barry "And no one has ever agreed that NI is "as British as Finchley". It differs in so many respects." I remember public statements by unionist politicians for years after Thatcher made that statement, quoting it and agreeing with it.

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