A Nation Once Again…?? Part 2 of a Guest Post from Cleenish

Hello to you. I hope you are all well folks. I’m hoping you’ve read Cleenish’s previous post, otherwise here’s a link to it. What I liked about the post aside from dealing with someone who has clearly thought about the nuts and bolts of unity and how we can bring this about is some of the practical solutions that Cleenish has come up with. Of course, if you have any practical solutions yourself please let me know here otherwise we’ll hear from it during the course of the piece…

If we constantly think and promote an Irish national approach there is then an impact on public services; their plans, strategies and operational arrangements. Any outcome that is organised and deliver services on a national basis must be presented and promoted within the context of the nation, in this way a sense of Irish nationhood is imparted, underpinning & promoting a wholly Irish perspective. A change from the status quo to a UI is therefore a easier proposal to sell.

If you consider the following you will see how a national perspective changes outcomes, please do not be tempted to quibble on the detail or obstacles of any particular aspect (I know detail counts and can/will alter things), however it is the broad principle that is being demonstrated. If we are to promote the Irish nation we need to actively think in the Irish terms and to constantly seek opportunities for an expression of Irishness and a national Irish outlook.

The narrative being one of…..

Irish Solutions to Irish problems; We are better together; stronger, fairer and ultimately richer.

Fully using the talents of the Irish nation for the benefit of all.

Futile, groundhog debates that trap us all in political amber to become a thing of the past.

Rail

The DRD recently published a Strategy that will chart the development of NI Railways over the next 20-30 years. http://www.drdni.gov.uk/index/publications/publications-details.htm?docid=8604

How many of will look at the plans and think immediately and what is planned for the Derry to Belfast line and the cross-border Belfast –Dublin Enterprise service?

The paper is structured in a series of packages and carefully prepared by the officials to sway the reader towards to what they have previously decided, classic civil service approach! The focus is primarily on the Belfast commuter belt with some options on aspects of interest to Irish nats ie services on the Derry line and the Enterprise.

The Strategy is largely confined to internal NI consideration, which will be the default setting for any NICS official (irrespective of their personal background) as that is the organisational culture and the remit given to the team. In this case such an approach is reinforced by a UUP Minister.

For comparison purposes here’s the link to the Irish Rail http://www.irishrail.ie/index.jsp?p=124&n=264

If we step back and view from a national perspective then a number of developmental objectives & priorities come to the fore;

· Belfast to Dublin – hourly service, line electrified

· Belfast to Cork service – hourly or 2 hourly server depending on demand

· Cross Dublin rail interconnector (Heuston – Connelly)

· Derry to Dublin – hourly service

· (requiring increase in capacity on Derry line, Derry station and re-commissioning of Lisburn to Antrim track)

· Commuter Service Dublin to Newry

· Derry Commuter services

Due to lack of interest from NIR the Derry to Dublin could be established as a franchise run by Irish Rail with the Antrim-Lisburn connector being maintained by Irish Rail.

As Irish Nationalists these are the services we should be demanding and tactically planning for. Just as importantly the presentation and marketing needs to reflect a national perspective with the Rail map of Ireland (and ticketing arrangements) changing accordingly http://www.irishrail.ie/index.jsp?p=115&n=126

Roads

Isn’t it strange that the ‘cross-border’, infrastructure projects with an Irish flavour have run into problems and seem to have been a5 roadstymied? I am talking of course of the A5 and Narrowwater Bridge. The history of the A5 http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/roads/a5omaghstrabane.html is certainly troubled and there SF seems to has faced opposition from their partners in government. The is UUP well known to oppose the road http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/its-time-to-scale-back-844m-road-urges-uup-leader-28571097.html  Isn’t it strange how things work out. Incidentally this scheme may very well become a test of the GFA and SF on their ability to deliver for Irish nationalists. It currently bears the hallmarks of a historic wrong in the making.

From a national viewpoint there are number of issues that come to mind regarding Ireland’s road network.

The Atlantic Road Corridor http://www.nra.ie/AboutUs/NDP2007-2013/ stretches from Letterkenny – Sligo –Galway – Limerick etc. The road from Sligo to Letterkenny goes Bundoran/Donegal Town. From an national perspective the road would’ve been planned to go through Sligo –Enniskillen – Omagh –Derry and then Letterkenny.

This road would link in nicely with the A5 and make more sense from an economic and developmental perspective than the current plans for the corridor.

The road networks in both parts of Ireland are at times mismatched in grade of road at the border e.g the Enniskillen to Dublin road with the Fermanagh stretch being of a lower standard. Nor do the road identifiers match – for example we have two M1’s going in different directions.

Ironically we need a strategy for reconnecting the road network in Ireland on (as far as possible) a common framework of civil engineering standards, terminology, as well as forward planning of schemes.

Why is it we have not planned and acted in a national fashion – can we really blame the unionist community?

Rural Development /Emigration

Across Ireland we have a common problem of emigration of an entire generation, particularly from rural communities whether it’s Tyrone, Carlow, Fermanagh or Kerry. It’s a common Irish problem requiring a common Irish response. http://www.southernstar.ie/News/Pat-Spillane-calls-on-locals-to-help-develop-rural-jobs-strategy-08022013.htm

Should this commission not be on a national basis? All it takes is for like minded people motivated to find common cause to make it happen. “Nation before county before party – to coin a certain phrase”.

Could the commission be extended to cover all of Ireland’s rural communities?

Snowstorm

The recent response to the blight of the hill/sheep farmers during the snow storm was interesting The initial response of MSM and perhaps no doubt by DARD officials was to call for the RAF, with the Irish Army Air Corps being subsequently used (and was well presented/handled by SF in making it public that Irish Army helicopters cost nothing compared to the charges required by the RAF). However, was the initial response a default setting by DARD senior officials or was their pressure from the nat grassroots involved, perhaps I’m being unfair to Michelle O’Neill? Was there not a certain pride in seeing Irish Army helicopters helping in this way? The episode also illustrates the difficulties we face as Irish nats in a NI British orientated set-up – requiring national thinking to be at the forefront and where possible pro-active planning.

De-regulation Opportunities

Bus

The bus services provided by Ulster and Bus Eireann enjoy a significant level of co-operation that is reflected in the routes& timetables of both and the mutual support services at each other’s depots. Within this context there is scope to look afresh at what a national inter-city bus service should look like.

A small example being the Sligo-Derry service which whilst going through Enniskillen it then goes via Donegal Town/Letterkeny – not exactly of use to Fermanagh. There is no Goldine server from Ekn to Derry, Bus Eireann could double each service with express buses then going through Omagh/Strabane.

From April next year Bus services in NI will be partially de-regulated http://www.drdni.gov.uk/public_transport_reform_-_pdf_version_of_the_final_consultation_report_-_may_2010.pdf

And http://www.drdni.gov.uk/index/pt-publictransportreform/content-newpage-7.htm

This provides the ability for Bus Eireann to provide service in a complimentary manner to the existing Ulsterbus services. In doing so, the needs of our citizens can be met whilst also providing a national service with a very visible expression of an Irish national identity in NI.

The opportunities for Bus Eireann include additional services on main routes e.g. Belfast-Ekn where there is a shortage of space at peak periods and on additional local routes. One or two buses located at a number of border depot’s, providing enhance local services, would have an impact out of proportion to the cost.

If the will existed the opportunity will be there. Are our politicians prepared to take that step, to campaign and to exploit the opportunity?

Postal services

The changes to the regulatory framework for the Royal Mail also now offer the possibility of An Post offering services in NI, and thereby on national scale.

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/post/

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/e2e-guidance/statement/ Note that TNT have provided a trial end to end service in London. An Post could commence with an end to end trial in Derry or South Down areas.

The opportunity is now being provided for a truly national service, as Irish nats should this not be an objective and a priority, unconstrained by a Unionist perspective and cage.

3rd Level Education

As a Irish nationalist in this part of our country when 3rd level university education is raised our immediate demand and desire, and rightly so, is for Derry to have its university, correcting a historic wrong. That tends to be the limit of our expectations.

As a nation we should expect each of our major cities with a University serving the needs of our young men & women and helping to develop our industries.

Currently however the system is based on a UK model and students are ‘steered’ to UK universities, with the elite universities in GB benefiting from our most able young people. We as a nation are poorer as these students tend to settle in GB and we lose their talents. Although I know of some politicians that did return to Ireland who perhaps we might have wished faraway places were better!

To help our young people make an informed choice they need to be clear as to the rankings of the Irish universities, per subject, and to be clear as to what are the ‘elite’ universities in Ireland.

Should it not be just as easy to consider and to apply to an Irish institution as a GB one, and to have clarity on funding and the arrangements in obtaining loans etc.

Should we not create a third level university tier based on an Irish basis, with research, study and academic links between all Irish universities the norm rather than the exception?

CoastGuard

The Irish CoastGuard is presented as a national service http://www.transport.ie/marine/IRCG/About_Us.asp?loc=2417 Is it really? There are 4 stations (Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo) http://www.transport.ie/marine/IRCG/CGinformation/index.asp?lang=ENG&loc=2076

What would a truly national service look like? Would it not have a station in Derry or Coleraine?

What is to stop the Irish government establishing a station in Derry for instance, could it be organised through the Irish Ministerial Council (aka officially as North South Ministerial council – language matters ;))

Since the creation of Northern Ireland Irish Nationalists within its confines have had our lives; with its hopes, expressions of identity and rights as members of the Irish nation expressed through a Unionist construct & prism. It is up to us to break free of that prism and the restrictions placed on our own thinking.

The present Sinn Fein strategy of National Reconciliation/Unionist outreach is a political step, despite my own cynical doubts as to its ultimate success, is rooted and expressed in national terms. It’s outworking and engagements would need to be on a national basis, rather than code for Irish nationalists talking to the unionist community. The presence of SF as a national party is also a step in underscoring a national perspective and provides an opportunity to encourage that mindset.

I think we need to complement the political strategy with a practical-based strategy for national re-awakening and reconnection.

A twin-track approach which whilst reconciling the nation on a political level with all sections of the Irish nation, particularly the British/Unionist community, I think we as Irish nationalists need to pursue a strategy aimed at emphasising and encouraging an emotional identification, sense of pride and of belonging to the Irish nation, and underpinning this with practical and very visible expressions of a being part of a wider Irish family.

In doing so we begin to correct the warping that partition has brought to the development of the Irish nation. The first step has to be to change our way of thinking and to change the language and concepts that shape debate and discussion, and that has to start with ourselves.

It is a primary responsibility of all of our political parties to act in a broad common purpose to realise the Irish nation. There is a tendency to react with anger, disdain even, with interventions from FF purely as electioneering point scoring. FF are exploiting a current weakness in SF’s strategy, however to react in kind is to miss an opportunity to open the debate and to challenge a common purpose along the lines above.

My father lived most his life within a Unionist inspired cage that manifested itself in a visible expression of control and discrimination on a large scale. The C/N community knew it’s place. For myself or for my children I would hope our lives are not lived out within a Unionist/British cage that is partly constructed by our mode of thought, engaging in solely NI based discussions/debates and with low expectations on our national expressions. To accept we are a place and a people apart.

If we and our children are to live as free Irishman and women we have to start by removing the Unionist cage from our own thoughts. We need to first and foremost, to think and demand to have our place as part of the Irish nation, and wherever possible to have this expressed and represented in everyday life.

Waiting for the eventual United Ireland, currently being a vague notion, hidden in the mists of the future, only provides the British free to promote an alternative narrative of a shared and peaceful Northern Ireland, as a country within a wider British context.

If we are to A Nation Once Again, should we not be thinking and acting in that way, demanding that our political parties have a clear strategy on creating a new Irish nation, to exploit opportunities wherever possible, irrespective of Unionist opposition, in the here and now.

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31 responses to “A Nation Once Again…?? Part 2 of a Guest Post from Cleenish

  1. Pingback: A Nation Once Again…?? Part 2 of a Guest Post from Cleenish | footballcliches·

  2. The A5 project is a important one for Irish Nationalism. I just hope it doesn’t become a victim of political horsetrading up at Stormont. The Narrow Water Bridge is important as well maybe just as important. We need a couple of victories under our belts to show those who still think nothing has changed here that they are wrong. Great post by the way.

  3. These two posts have been wonderful. I hope we will be hearing more from Cleenish on these pages. They also seem fairly timely in light of recent proposals to move childrens heart surgery operations from Belfast to Dublin.

    In addition to the all Ireland infrastructure/public services projects you outlined, I think we also need to start promoting similar in sporting and cultural enterprises. The question of who curly Rory swings a club for in the Olympics is just the tip of the iceberg here.

    The formation of an all Ireland soccer team needs to be seriously pushed for. Merge the IFA and FAI. Alternate the games between Dublin and Belfast. Use ‘Ireland’s Call’ as an anthem if necessary. The cynics may say that instead of one utterly hopeless and one pretty bad team we could have one moderately bad team, but hey – it could be one that even the Linfield and Glasgow Rangers fans we share this island with could be persuaded to get behind.

    In broader cultural terms, the digital switchover has seen RTE channels available throughout Ireland so now the children of Coleraine can get as excited as the children of Cork when the the Late Late Toy Show comes around. As far as ‘the battle for hearts and minds’ goes, this is a step in the right direction. In other television related matters, I was idly flicking through a copy of the Newsletter recently and was pleasantly surprised to find that they ran television listings for TG4 alongside the other main channels, as opposed to hiding them in the small print somewhere between E4 and ITV4. A positive step I think.

    Sorry, these are just half baked thoughts. Hope I am not taking up space here.

    • RJC, never apologise, those are great thoughts and thanks for coming on by. You and all others who’ve dropped on by have really added to the conversation and this is what I was hoping for when I spoke to Cleenish on the matter, that we could start something were we move away from grand statements towards the nitty gritty, the nuts and bolts stuff of what a UI or even an Agreed Ireland will look like.

  4. I’m preparing a blog in answer to this lot as it throws up a serious amount of food for thought but, FC, in a nutshell, surely we agree that if the hardware is in place the software will follow?

    • Thanks BD, Cleenish’s pieces have been great, a breath of fresh air and something which has definitely put meat on bones in relation to a uniting Ireland.

      In relation to the hardware being there, software to follow, I don’t even think it is in place. Politics is in massive flux in the north and one side is dong all in its power to essentially dig its heels in on any kind of progress. Further we need to get the software right first time, no bugs, or it may set our cause back years. Also, bear in mind we will have a section of pols doing all in its power to starve this beast as they will see it as a massive challenge to their hegemony.

    • Oh lord no, they don’t know what they’re at or appear to be stuck in some kind of stasis.

      I believe we’ve got to drive this change, we’ve got to hold out reps to account and ask why haven’t you brought this change about.

  5. I feel that on a basic level, the aim to create a language of anti-partitionism fails because it uses terminology that will not be acceptable to those who you wish to convert/argue with.

    RJC, a UI football team will never happen in the context you describe. If my team (Glentoran) and my country (Northern Ireland) are removed from me, I will not jump on to their replacement’s bandwagon. Back when Belfast Celtic removed themselves from the IL, their followers did not, en masse, make the move to Distillery; they absented themselves from football support in Belfast completely.

    On a practical level, there is so much sharing and good-neighbourliness to be carried out between RoI and NI. The children’s heart surgery is one aspect of it, I trust also that if a child or adult from RoI needs extremely advanced medical treatment, they can access that from the mainland, for an east-west link. Where it is possible to create links between the two countries on the island, that should be encouraged. I feel that unionism has nothing to fear from that, and nationalism in NI also shouldn’t be fearful. They have hopefully accepted (and I would say that comes through in the original blog points) that RoI is not really their spokesperson but there are plenty of articulate people from the Nat/Rep communities who should and do speak strongly on their behalf. Just as I don’t trust an English politician to represent me, so you shouldn’t trust a southerner.

    • Hi Carrick, many thanks for dropping on by and apologies if my response comes across as shorter than usual, however, I am in Australia at the moment and I wanted to give you a response before I went to bed.

      I think we could have a fairly cyclical argument about the use of language. You dislike the use of anti-partitionist language as you feel it would not be acceptable to those who we wish to convert or argue with. In relation to the latter, I have no problems and do not shy away from the argument, they need to tell me why I should not use this language especially as my raison d’etre in politics in Ireland is to reunite it. As for the former, you would need to confirm who these people are I wish to convert, to be honest the use of the word ‘convert’ may be something I have read far too much into or a Freudian slip on your own behalf and show who I wish to really convert (in the main) to my cause? Perhaps I’m being a tad cheeky to say that or that’s the honest truth and would chime with what FDM has been saying over on SOT about ‘unionism’ in it’s current political guise is not infact unionism but merely Protestant nationalism but that’s a discussion for another day.

      Regarding a UI football team, if the vast majority of delegates at the IFA support to unite with the FAI would you be in support of this or would you take your ball (figuratively) elsewhere? As for BC ‘removing’ itself from the IL, I think you and I both know that it didn’t remove itself but was in effect removed, thanks in no small part to Linfield fans invading the pitch. If the club and the RUC were unable to guarantee the safety of the players then you can’t go on and this, tbh, is an especially sore point in our family as our uncle Jimmy McAlinden played for BC.

      I do also love the use of the term ‘mainland’ by many of my unionist chums, not really converting myself to your cause by showing that you see another island as your main nexus, maybe even home, as opposed to the one you live on but again, perhaps a post for another day :)!

      ‘They have hopefully accepted (and I would say that comes through in the original blog points) that RoI is not really their spokesperson but there are plenty of articulate people from the Nat/Rep communities who should and do speak strongly on their behalf.’

      I think you are being perhaps a little facetious here or deliberately controversial or worse, not understanding what it is we are trying to get at. To be honest, do I think that a southerner would have a better grasp of what goes on up in the North East compared to say Theresa Villiers? Short answer, yes, especially the closer to the North they are from. BTW, no, I do not believe there is some magical line I would draw down South and say that people on the other side have no idea what goes on up North, but it is safe to say that more people in Louth might have a better idea of what’s going on in local politics in the North than someone say in Cork due to their more regular contact with Northerners.

      The spokespeople for Northern Nationalism is, you guessed it, Northern Nationalism. While we look to the South and Southern parties as they are in the main willing to fight our corner and want the country reunited, we do not leave our talking to them nor have we ever really, hence why the SDLP and Sinn Fein exist. The point of the articles is that if we as Northern Nationalists want to bring about a UI and start to plan for it then we have to speak to Southern Nationalism and basically get rid of the language of artificially dividing ourselves from the rest of our country. We need to become Irish Nationalism in the truest sense and this will make our voice stronger, our case stronger and allow us to better plan to try and make a better go of Strand 2 of the GFA, something that while it is working out in a few areas (heart surgery) it is clearly not for many others.

      If I may be honest, it’s not only unionists such as Alex Kane or letsgetalongerists like Gerry Lynch who are disappointed with the outworkings of the GFA, Republicans or Nationalists like myself are also, we want great Strand 2 cooperation and delivery and we aren’t seeing what we expected at the moment.

      • If that’s the short version…!

        I don’t dislike the use of anti-partitionist language, I find it (without being offensive) quite quaint on one level as it harks to a long-distant past of Ireland as a whole within the UK and whimsical on the other, as it is far removed from the language of reality politics. I had discussions just last week with a CS in the NSMC, a southerner who was using the logical language of partition.

        In a way, my mainland use is the reverse of anti-partitionist language and something that you are right to pick up on. The converting statement is you guys winning over misguided Irishmen like me. Just as it is beginning to dawn on our side that we need your Castle Catholics, for a long time your lot have talked about Protestant outreach and winning us over to a UI. But then have done nothing about it.

        As an aside on BC, they had a history of withdrawal, the 49 one was reckoned to be another ball-snatching huff by the IL. A big void was left, which we partially filled until Health and Safety killed the domestic game from 2005. The vast majority of IFA delegates will never vote for a UI team so we’re moving even further into “what if?” territory. If that was ever the case, I would have no interest in international football in the same way I have no interest in rugby, golf or tiddlywinks. If my team ever disappeared, I’d give up on football altogether, which will be hard to countenance, considering how excited I am about the Irish Cup final on Saturday!

        Villiers and her ilk care little about what happens in the UK outside the southeast of England. I would say that many RoI politicians are equally parochial. I have nothing to fear from NS links, if it improves the quality of life for people on both sides of the border, that is great. If it allows income to flow into NI border areas, even better. The more that we talk to our nearest neighbours on a NS and EW link, the better it will be. Who knows, some day we might even welcome RoI into the Commonwealth (and wouldn’t it be great to see a Northern boxer knock out one of the Micks inside three rounds at the CG!).

      • Twas a short version and by that I most likely meant I would take little time with it (it was very late in the evening for me!)

        Offensive? Not really, I actually find your own opinion to be rather quaint, one where you seemingly struggle to acknowledge a whole land to the South (figuratively speaking) and its connection with the rest or how a rather undemocratic decision nearly 100 years ago would extinguish the language used by what is approaching a near equilibrium of those who would prefer like yourself who either find the language unacceptable, ‘unrealistic’ or quaint.

        To be honest Carrick, I don’t think we will ever win over an Irishman like yourself for, and I do not wish to be offensive here, the vast majority of Irishmen like yourself seemingly vote for what FDM and Ian Parsley would refer to as Protestant Nationalist parties; there is little or no convincing the dogmatic lets be honest.

        In relation to BC, I am well aware of their history, as I have mentioned, my uncle did play for them and yes, they had financial difficulties, however, one team and its supporters did act as the final straw on a camel’s back and subsequently the team was no more after it’s tour of the States for reasons we all can figure out which you have alluded to with your point that it ‘was reckoned to be another ball-snatching huff by the IL’, which in effect it was.I’ll leave your opinion on an IFA amalgamation with the FAI on the record and not argue as there is little point. I would note that it has and shall forever remain an organisation (the IFA) that I could never countenance supporting and I have enjoyed watching it bleed over the past 15 years.

        You’re of course right, there is many a parochial politician in the South, just like across the globe, however, you have missed the point I was raising concerning how the vast majority of Irish pols or civil servants would have a far better idea of what’s going on up North than the likes of Villiers, but of course, you merely ignored this.

        As for the South joining the Commonwealth, why ever would it do that? This is an organisation that even unionists care little for and it would never sway a single unionist to the merits of a UI, there is no payback for an Irish government or people in this relic of a dead empire. There is a better chance of the USA or France, both formerly under the crown, applying to rejoin the commonwealth than the South and IMHO, it would actually be a massive step backwards.

        As an aside, thanks for taking the time to come over btw, quite insightful

  6. Sinn Féin is planning to stage simultaneous local referenda in Crossmaglen (north) and Creggan Upper (south) on the question of reunification. This idea was inspired by the many municipal referenda that were held in Catalonia from 2009 to 2011 by progressive Nationalist groups (and outside the control of the established, conservative Catalan parties). Those polls spurred the development of the mass pro-independence demonstrations that we saw over the last 12 months in the Catalan country.

    This is the pro-active political action we need to see from Nationalists and Republicans (and which might well attract young people away from joining the ranks of the Republican Resistance groups. As well as showing those groupings that other ways exist to forward the cause of Irish freedom and unity).

    If the referenda are successful more are promised along with the possibility of motions favouring Reunification being tabled in Nationalist-dominated local government councils across the North of Ireland. These would provide a democratic legitimacy to the campaign that naysayers would find hard to challenge. Handled carefully and with the right PR they might create their a momentum of their own. They would certainly show the world (and the rest of Ireland) that geographically, communally and politically “Northern Ireland” is not majority British and has not been for a long time.

    I would certainly like to see Kenny and Gilmore trying to reject a mass profession of loyalty to the Irish state from a majority of local councils in the north-east over the next two or three years.

    • That’s all great, Seamas. I’m going to organise a referedum in rural Punjab that will ask the question about a return to the Empire. It will be as official, as open to international, independent observers and as likely to give the right response as the SF one. Or the East Donegal petition in the 1930’s.

      Anyone know what the rates are for RoI councils? I’d love to see the Nationalist LGC’s working out services on that basis when they profess their loyalty to RoI.

      • Who is Roy? 😉

        Fair enough. But I would rather young Republicans are putting their energies into imaginative and peaceful ways of tackling the anti-democratic nature of partition and the continued British Occupation than being forced down the military path their parents’ and grandparents’ generation had to take. Especially when this particular tactic has proved so successful elsewhere.

        But at least with the Punjab comparison you tacitly admit that “Northern Ireland” is a relic of Empire. Ireland was the first colony – and it seems it will also be the last. A nice set of bookends to Britain Inc.

  7. Roy, must be that boring guy from Corrie! I hear you talk, interestingly, about the militant path and being forced to take it. Would you be so understanding of my terrorism if I were subsumed into a united ireland? I am the British occupation; I’m sitting on Irish soil, stopping the return of that fourth green field. I’m afraid that while I may have nearly emigrated twice within the last decade, when it comes to anyone trying to remove me, I will not be going quietly to the Larne boat.

    You’re right about Ireland hosting the first colony. It’s been the unofficial settlement areas that have remained the most British, there must be a historical lesson there. I’ve taken a little bit of Punjab back for the Empire, and rather touchingly, there’s an arch just down the road!

    • But it was terrorism that kept “you” out of an independent and united Ireland in the first place. The terrorism of some 17% of the entire population of the island of Ireland in opposition to two democratic all-island national votes and several local votes in support of some form of autonomy from Britain for the entire island of Ireland and its peoples.

      However that is an old argument, well rehearsed, and I’m sure both of us have gone through it many times before in many different fora. There is little point in repeating it again.

      As for the tired “we are the British Occupation” argument there is a world of difference between an unwanted and unwarranted colonial Occupation (in 21st century Europe, no less!) and an ethno-national minority in a nation where they feel some form of difference from the majority population based upon their unique history, language, culture and religion and wish to have that difference given formal recognition. That is the norm across Europe (and the European Union) and very, very few Irish people would object to that. If the price of a Reunited Ireland is a form of regional autonomy in the north-east of the country to assuage the fears of the British-Irish/Scots-Irish minority that is a small price to pay indeed. In fact I believe “you” would be quite justified in asking for it. Regional/provincial governance is one key to reforming our democracy in a far too centralised state.

      If you don’t mind me saying, you seem to imply that when Reunification takes place the ideological (and irreconcilable) Unionist minority will take to separatist terrorism to pursue… Well I’m not sure what? A British military re-intervention post-withdrawal? That worked out well for the Turks and the Cypriots. What would be the political aim of British Unionist terrorism in Ireland post-reunification aside from killing Roman Catholic men, women and children for the sake of killing Roman Catholic men, women and children? And what could an ideologically committed and avowedly “national” British Unionist population achieve now that it accounts for less than 10% of the entire population of the island of Ireland (and falling)?

  8. I think the most important infrastructure projects are the dualling of the Dargan Bridge (rail) in Belfast and dualling of Belfast-Ballymena, which will allow better faster and more frequent services on the Northern line to Foyle.

    • Seamas, I can’t see any plan for re-unification that won’t involve terrorism. If it is led by the same types who murdered their way around the highways and byways from 1966, then there won’t be a political aim and it will be sectarian. Mind you, they could always dress it up as a war against occupation by attacking economic targets and the Irish Army and Guards.

      The regional autonomy model sounds very much like what SDLP talk about (in hushed tones) because they recognise that even northern Nationalists are different from southerners. You’ve had almost 100 years of a different story to southerners, that creates a gap in the national story.

      • I think you’re over egging matters re the 100 years apart there Carrick, as has been noted elsewhere when we are abroad it doe s not matter a jot and tbh, when we are in Ireland it really doesn’t matter either, isn’t that right Jamie?

        Jamie: ‘Indeed, you’re not wrong mucker!’

      • @carrickally,

        You are in effect saying that there can be no reunification of Ireland because a British and Unionist ethno-national minority will oppose it through violence and the threat of violence no matter what the circumstances. Therefore it must not happen. That is the same argument, the same violence, the same threats that led to the partition and the creation of “Northern Ireland” in the first place.

        What then is the point of the Belfast Agreement?

        I’m sorry but that simply echoes the arguments made by those Irish Republicans still committed to military force as a means of bringing the last eight centuries of conflict to an end. There can be no peace except from a position of military strength. There can be no end to the British Occupation except through military means. Everything else simply protracts the conflict and is pointless.

        There has always been a strong sense of regional identity to the north and to people living in that part of the country. Obviously this was reinforced and heightened by the Ulster Plantation and, yes, partition. I think both the SDLP and SF (and parties down here) have accepted the likelihood of a settlement in a Reunited Ireland based upon a regional assembly and executive in the north-east (“the Belfast Agreement in reverse” as I put it).

        The thing is that settlement was offered by Sinn Féin and the Irish government to the Unionist minority in “North-East Ulster” in 1921 and in most decades thereafter. Unionists have simply taken 90 odd years to catch up with the rest of us!

        Talk about a Sunningdale for slow learners! 😉

      • Sorry folks – we will not be having a federal Ireland. Too expensive. Its best to be clear on this.

        Either you have NI as a self-governing unit as part of the UK or you have integration into the current Dublin administration.

      • In the long run, who knows Factual? I’m listening to the Guardian Football podcast at the moment so excuse me for borrowing some of their terminology but I would expect some parachute payments for the North from Westminster if a UI to come about, then it could vote itself out of existence as we’ve form in this country …

  9. @factual,

    I don’t believe anyone is seriously contemplating a federal or confederal Ireland (beyond Conall McDevitt!). The template for reunification is already in place via the Belfast Agreement. A devolved assembly in the north-east with a form of limited regional governance, policing and judiciary, under the auspices of a national government in Dublin. The 1998 Agreement and the Bunreacht na hÉireann permit both with minimal adjustments. That is not a federal system and all the talk about a new capital, flag, anthem, etc. is just hot air.

    It is also the least we can (and should) offer the British-Irish/Scots-Irish minority in the north-east to assuage their communal fears.

    Expense is irrelevant. We cold have paid for a reunited Ireland several times over with the money we have used or intend to use to pay off bond market pirates in Britain, France, Germany and the United States. When the time comes the money will be found, both at home and abroad (from Britain, the EU, US, etc.), because it has to.

    • Expense is not irrelevant. Politics is all about costs and who pays.

      “A devolved assembly in the north-east with a form of limited regional governance, policing and judiciary, under the auspices of a national government in Dublin”

      So legislative devolution? Good grief. People in the NI having a say in the rest of Ireland (rIreland) but not vice versa, the West Lothian question transferred to Lagan Valley. So people from NI would have MLAs and TDs, and people in rIreland would have TDs only. Duplicated civil service jobs covering the departments under the GFA – paid for by Dublin. The same system of powersharing up north so the same political parties. As with the Scotland-Westminster tug of war a recepie for tensions and north-south unionist-nationalist strife on a big scale, with DUP being the SNP and squabbles about costs and complaints about treatment by “Dublin”. Calls for ever greater powers to be devolved as the unelected FG government of the south attempts to impose its cuts in NI with limited electoral mandate. NI would be a lot more expensive to run than rIreland and has been used to high-cost services more than it can pay for. Devolution would perpetuate all that.

      Sorry. You haven’t thought it through. We in Dublin will not want that system. Its a unitary state or the staus quo. Unionists I would have thought should be given a clear choice, not promises that have not been thought through.

      • factual,

        Half the nation-sates in the European Union have autonomous or semi-autonomous regions and they seem to cope ok. I don’t see the Finns or Swedes plauged by civil war.

        Most also have considerable devolved powers to local government entities, often on a regional basis.

        We are not reinventing the wheel here.

        Ireland is the odd-man out with its obsessive centralisation and maintaining all legislative and executive powers within the Oireachtas Éireann (a cultural legacy of British colonial rule via Dublin Castle on one hand and the anarchy of the Civil War and fear of opposing political factions taking power in rival institutions on the other). We are nearly a century on. It is time to devolve power to the regions across Ireland (in line with our EU commitments).

        Personally I favour directly elected assemblies on a regional/provincial basis replacing the present local government system, with a party-list election system for our national assembly. This is a way of tackling “parish pump” politics and freeing up our national legislature to carry out national business. No more debates on potholes in Borris-In-Ossory! Others will have their own views.

        Surely, for the sake of peace and long-term stability, you cannot deny that granting the British Unionist minority community in the north-east corner of Ireland a devolved form of regional government to assuage their fears and aspirations would be a fair compromise for all involved? We first offered it in 1921 via Dáil Éireann.

        This like it or lump it attitude is utterly counter-productive. It offers a historic ethno-national minority on the island of Ireland, in our country, nothing.

        What would you offer, real concrete proposals, to the British-Irish/Scots-Irish community in a Reunited Ireland?

      • You need to be clear: you seem sometimes to be proposing NI has the same level of devolution (with law-making legislative devolution covering the same devolved areas with all the government departments civil service back up and and ministers from health roads to education to welfare payments) as at present. Would we devolve more and more like corpo tax and other taxes.

        Other times you seem to be suggesting a beefed up council system (i.e. replacing Stormont with a beefed up local council and getting rid of Belfast City Council, North Down Council etc).

        The latter is cheap but not much different from what we have. The former is very expensive and copperfastens a DUP strength in NI that is always asking for devo-more and complaining about FG/FF lack of legitimacy in NI just as SNP do about Tories – this could become more and more popular as Dublin plays the role of the bad guy.

        We have to be honest with Unionsts and respect them enough to give them the real choice that is realistically available. And I don’t know how much they want a regional assembly anyway.

      • You know Factual, and I say this with the greatest respect, but I think your post was the best one I have read so far. I find little wrong with your logic and I do believe you are right in so many ways. I still though think that a legislative assembly of sorts may be put in place to assuage Unionism in the North, a glorified council with bigger responsibilities but who knows?

  10. @factual,

    I have not gone into specifics simply because they will be shaped by the events themselves and the outcome of negotiations by all parties (and governments) concerned. Your points however are fair ones.

    Personally I imagine something like a limited form of the present regional legislature and executive with a minimal duplication of services and with local public bodies acting as regional branches of national ones. I would be surprised if there would be much tax-raising powers beyond local property taxes, commercial taxes and fees, etc. There are plenty of models we could adopt from elsewhere in Europe if the present dispensation was found unworkable (weighted voting, communal designations, etc. is not unique to Stormont when viewed in a European context and other minority community regions).

    I suspect the areas of policing, the judiciary, education and language/culture would be major bones of contention and would necessitate devolved or regional powers. Rather than an Irish Language Act instead an Official Languages Act putting Irish and English on an equal footing might be favoured, localised to the north-east. Then again others might favour majority votes on language use based upon local community polls (though that is incredibly messy, as witnessed in Canada/Québec and Belgium).

    Absent a regional assembly do you really imagine the DUP/UUP would sit in Dáil Éireann? Or the TUV? Or even the APNI?

    As for “regionalism” in terms of party politics and edges versus centre, again, it is commonplace throughout Europe and more often than not has no effect on territorial integrity. Sinn Féin is an All-Ireland party and would contest both regionally and nationally, no doubt using the north-east as its electoral heartland. The SDLP may remain a regional party or ally with a national party (or simply be subsumed). Fianna Fáil, Labour might well contest the north-east assembly. I see no reason why they would not in a Reunited Ireland. The Alliance or its successor might well contest outside it.

    The problem with Irish politcos is that we tend to think within an Anglophone sphere. Europe has many, many lessons for us to learn and to see that our communal problems are by no means unique.

  11. Pingback: Irish Nationalism & Party Representation – Nation Building?: Guest Post from Cleanish | footballcliches·

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