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One Ireland. Apart from NI. April 18, 2010

Posted by Garibaldy in Irish Labour Party.
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The Labour Party conference had as its slogan One Ireland jobs, reform, fairness. So interesting to see where the one (perfunctory) motion dealing with Northern Ireland was. International and European affairs. The Labour Party doesn’t do irony, but if it did…

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1. sonofstan - April 18, 2010

Yeah, that struck me about Gilmore’s vision for a constitutional convention for ‘our’ country in time for the 1916 centenary, where it was fairly clear that this country was the 26 county republic, no more, no less.

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2. Garibaldy - April 18, 2010

Quoting Bobby Kennedy too I see.

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3. que - April 18, 2010

Labour see Ireland as the 26 counties and with a good reason. A 32 county Ireland would see them contending with a much more powerful Sinn Fein.

Anyone who thinks that Labour is interested in upsetting the applecart and hooking up with SF in order to change the country should smell the coffee.
Labour and the SDLP have hooked up and you aint wanted and yez can go back to the foreign country that is the north.

so much for the alliance with labour

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Ciarán - April 18, 2010

Given that they’re both electoral parties that put such weight in their representation in elected institutions, Labour are still slightly larger than SF even though they don’t contest elections in the Six Counties.

What will be interesting is if the SDLP under Margaret Ritchie’s direction doesn’t come to anything. With Fianna Fáil starting to stick a toe into electoral politics in the North-East, the SDLP could finally disintegrate with members going to FF and Labour (as well as a few other places undoubtedly, I mean jumping ship from the SDLP to Sinn Féin isn’t unheard of). What that would mean for the poor Labour Forum, still trying to straddle British Labour and Free State Labour, remains to be seen though.

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4. Joseph - April 19, 2010

The Irish people have chosen to recognise that Ireland consists of the 26 counties. Northern Ireland is not governed by the Irish Government. It IS an international issue- a unique one, but an international one none the less.

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que - April 19, 2010

Jospehh,

Fascinated to learn when this has happened.

Sounds like a very selective, very unlegal reading of the various agreements; and a fairly inaccurate reading of the GFA referendum result.

Its a very provocative position you take and one likely to get some spittle flyiing but seeing as how its removed from the realities of the situation I think we can all remain fairly relaxed about it.

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Ciarán - April 19, 2010

Would you like me to return my Irish passport then?

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5. Leveller on the Liffey - April 19, 2010

@ Joseph

So people born in the Six Counties – including President McAleese, among many others – aren’t Irish?

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Tim - April 19, 2010

don’t start ….

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seamus - April 20, 2010

Being the subject of Dail Eireann and the civil service/guards/church etc makes you Irish? This sort of argument is a slippery slope, its also of course commission of the sin of thinking like the state. My young lad was born in America and carries his Irish passport along with any other he’s entitled to but that is not what makes him Irish. By that silly logic some Irish kid in Manchester is not Irish because he has no Irish passport. Absurd. Ireland has two failed states, something republicans often forget.

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6. Garibaldy - April 19, 2010

Joseph,

Just out of curiosity. What is the island as a whole called now then? Should the rugby team be called Ireland and Northern Ireland? Or should we be able to differentiate between the state ruled from Dublin and the island as a whole?

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alastair - April 19, 2010

It’s clear enough that the nation is distinct entity from the country, and therefore NI correctly falls under international/euro affairs as far as the Labour party’s national policies are concerned. So I’m not getting the contradiction of ‘One Country’ sloganeering and national policy constrained within the practicalities of an actual, you know, nation.

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WorldbyStorm - April 19, 2010

It’s not ‘nation’ which is a distinct entity from the country, it’s the state. The RoI is the ‘state’, Ireland as a whole is the ‘nation’. The terms country and nation tend to be used colloquially almost interchangeably, but even there most of us who have conducted research into political or national identity or who know the literature in this field are aware of the clear distinction between them and indeed between them and ‘state’.

So while Labour can put it whereever it likes, the Republican Socialist terminology police are unlikely to be knocking on the door of the party, in the context of the actuality of the island it’s a little curious they would argue that it was ‘international’. Not least because we have a constitutional relationship under the terms of the GFA that makes NI fundamentally different to anywhere else on the planet, let along Europe, and we actually through shared instrumentalities as part of the GFA exercise some degree of shared sovereignty with institutions in the North.

Given that I think it’s a real pity that the Labour Party would be so cloth eared, not only to its own heritage as a party that sees itself as an heir to the ICA and Connolly but also to the reality of x number of Irish citizens who live north of the border. There’s simple ways Labour could express this which are open to the nuances of the situation and would eschew revanchism.

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Tim - April 19, 2010

The idea that the ‘nation’, whatever that is, is distinct from the island of Ireland is hardly a new one. Given that nobody, as yet, has proposed the “ethnic cleansing” of Protestants from Ulster, there remains more than one nation on the island.

While I don’t agree with Paisley -who said that there are no circumstances that could ever emerge that will see the two nations join together – it seems that there will several definitions of Irishness for many years to come.

Labour’s position was sloppy, but probably unintended. Their indifference to the national question shines through…

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7. que - April 19, 2010

WBS,

Indeed if the north is now international then the All-Ireland maybe the Gaelic football League should be called the World Series from now on.

Kerry versus Tyrone in the World Cup. The excitement of it all would be too much.

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alastair - April 19, 2010

If sports are to provide a basis for definition, how to explain international matches between Rep. of Ireland and Northern Ireland?

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EWI - April 20, 2010

Wikipedia, fwiw:

The FAI was formed in Dublin in September 1921 by the Free State League (League of Ireland), founded the previous June, and the Leinster FA, which had withdrawn from the IFA in June. This was the climax of a series of disputes about the alleged Belfast bias of the IFA. The IFA had been founded in 1880 in Belfast as the governing body for football on the island of Ireland, which was then a single part (“Home Nation”) of the United Kingdom. The Leinster FA was an affiliate founded in 1892 to foster the game in Leinster, outside its Ulster heartland. In 1921, all but two clubs in the Irish League were based in Ulster, in what had become Northern Ireland the previous year. While this largely reflected the balance of footballing strength within Ireland, southern clubs felt the IFA was doing little to promote the game outside the professional clubs in its heartland. Elsewhere soccer was under pressure from the Gaelic Athletic Association, which banned members from playing or watching soccer as being a “foreign” game. World War I increased the gulf as the Irish League was suspended and replaced by regional leagues, foreshadowing the ultimate split. The Belfast members were mainly Unionist, while the Dublin members were largely Nationalist. Tensions were exacerbated by the Irish War of Independence of 1919-21, which disrupted contact between northern and southern clubs and prevented resumption of the Irish League. The security situation prompted the IFA to order the April 1921 Irish Cup semi-final replay between Glenavon and Shelbourne to be replayed in Belfast, rather than Dublin as convention dictated. This proved the final straw.[3]

Both bodies initially claimed to represent the entire island. The split between Southern Ireland (which in 1922 became the Irish Free State) and Northern Ireland did not produce a split in the governing bodies of other sports, such as the Irish Rugby Football Union. The Munster FA, originally dominated by British Army regiments, had fallen into abeyance on the outbreak of World War I,[4] and was re-established in 1922 with the help of the FAI, to which it affiliated.[5] The Falls League, based in the Falls Road of nationalist West Belfast, affiliated to the FAI, and from there Alton United won the FAI Cup in 1923. However, when the FAI applied to join FIFA in 1923, it was admitted as the FAIFS (Football Association of the Irish Free State) based on a 26-county jurisdiction. (This jurisdiction remains, although Derry City, from Northern Ireland, were given an exemption, by agreement of FIFA and the IFA, to join the League of Ireland in 1985.) Attempts at reconciliation followed: at a 1923 meeting, the IFA rejected an FAIFS proposal for it to be an autonomous subsiary of the FAIFS. A 1924 meeting in Liverpool, brokered by the English FA, almost reached agreement on a federated solution, but the IFA insisted on providing the chairman of the International team selection committee. A 1932 meeting agreed on sharing this role, but foundered when the FAIFS demanded one of the IFA’s two places on the International Football Association Board.[6]

The IFA did not feel obliged to refrain from selecting Free State players for its international team. The name Football Association of Ireland was readopted by the FAIFS in 1936, in anticipation of the change of the state’s name in the pending Constitution of Ireland, and the FAI began to select players from Northern Ireland based on the Constitution’s claim to sovereignty there.[7] A number of players played for both the FAI “Ireland” (against FIFA members from mainland Europe) and the IFA “Ireland” (in the British Home Championship, whose members had withdrawn from FIFA in 1920).[8] Shortly after the IFA rejoined FIFA in 1946, the FAI stopped selecting Northern players.[9] The IFA stopped selecting southern players after the FAI complained to FIFA in 1950.[10]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_Association_of_Ireland

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alastair - April 19, 2010

For that matter, how do you explain London and New York teams competing in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship?

Sports is another world.

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8. DublinDilettante - April 19, 2010

There were a hell of a lot of things to get worked about at the Labour conference, but I can’t say this one registered with me at all. Although I accept I’m a very small majority when it comes to matters like this (and in believing the Irish left to be essentially crypto-republican in nature.)

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DublinDilettante - April 19, 2010

Meant very small minority, obviously.

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Garibaldy - April 19, 2010

I can’t speak for anyone else, but it’s not so much that I’m especially worked up about this so much as riding a hobby horse, which I’ve ridden here before. But if there was a serious point to be made here, it is about the triumph of spin over substance, or even stopping to think about things for a minute. That they can come out with the slogan One Ireland and then put the north into international affairs shows, in my view, that someone came up with what they took to be a clever slogan, they stuck it at the top, and gave little thought to the rest, especially, as WBS notes, when the leader is raising the shades of 1916-21.

And I should, of course, add that I don’t consider myself a crypto-republican. Simply a republican.

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DublinDilettante - April 19, 2010

No disputing that it was a stupid, bland slogan. I did actually find it pretty sinister for different reasons. Gilmore used the One Ireland motif in his speech to attack the unions, calling for One Ireland of “employers and employees” and saying that now was “not the time for conflict or division.”

Funnily enough, I’m pretty sure I discerned an (opportunistic, this is Labour we’re talking about) alignment towards SF and republicanism generally at the conference. As I said on my blog, Michael D’s speech was particularly notable for this.

I’m well aware you’re a republican in the best and most honourable tradition, of course. Can’t pretend it’s my bag, though.

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Garibaldy - April 19, 2010

I found your point about Micky D’s speech and the Provos interesting. It’s possible, although knowing Labour it might have more to do with the Irish Times series on renewing the republic or whatever it’s called. For what it’s worth, I think that over the next few years we will see pretty much every party – not sure about FG – really push the idea that 1916 was an attempt at instituting democratic, progressive, secular European politics, and leaving the enmities of the past behind. In that sense, Labour might be slightly ahead of the curve here.

Genuine question. What’s your problem with republicanism? Is it that you think it stands in the way of socialist politics?

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DublinDilettante - April 19, 2010

I think any nationalist creed is inherently inimical to socialism, and I think it would be very hard to make the contrary case as far as our little local difficulties are concerned.

It’s nowt personal though, my family background is entirely left republican (both grandfathers were IRA from the 30s onwards, one of them was prominent in the WP locally until his death just before the DL split.) I was never tempted down that route, though.

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LeftAtTheCross - April 19, 2010

DD, but does republicanism have to equate to nationalism?

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Garibaldy - April 19, 2010

I see LATC has beaten to the response to DD. At this point, it’s always worth quoting MacGiolla, who liked to point out that republicans fought nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. Republicanism, from my point of view, has always been an internationalist poltiical philosophy by its very nature.

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Tim - April 19, 2010

I had no idea “Republicanism” meant just one thing. Has it ever, historically? American Republicans are different to Irish ones, and both are different to Spanish (civil war) ones.
In an international context, it seems to mean simply not having a monarch…

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LeftAtTheCross - April 19, 2010

Garibalty, sorry to have interrupted you there. I’d agree with you that republicanism is internationalist. That’s a good quote about the Spanish civil war.

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EWI - April 20, 2010

Gilmore used the One Ireland motif in his speech to attack the unions, calling for One Ireland of “employers and employees” and saying that now was “not the time for conflict or division.”

And just where is Comrade Gilmore to be found when the “conflict and division” is in full fury against the public sector, the unemployed and the poorer-off?

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9. alastair - April 19, 2010

The shared instruments of the GFA are pretty solidly based on international agreement mechanisms. TBH the Ministerial Council has less cross-sovereignty impact than most EU law-making bodies – nothing can be agreed within the Council without the consent of both administrations, and any decision is liable to subsequent withdrawal of consent from either side. Bog standard EU legislation has the force of supreme law once it’s agreed, and it’s pretty difficult to walk away from at a national level – so by practical measure, the shared sovereignty with the North, as defined within the Ministerial Council is pretty watery stuff when compared with any other EU mechanism. Beyond that you’ve the powerless talkshop of the British-Irish Council, and a few niche bilateral bodies that really don’t impinge on respective sovereignty at all.
The reality is that any prospective Labour national policy ends at the border (regardless of Irish citizens beyond those borders), and NI policy would have to be conducted via an international channel of one type or another.

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10. Joe - April 19, 2010

Fact is Northern Ireland is different. There are two competing nationalities sharing it as a place to live in. It is unique as WBS says in that this state has some (small) degree of shared sovereignty over it with the British state, through the Belfast Agreement. Seems to me then that International is the correct heading under which NI should be discussed at any conference.

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Garibaldy - April 19, 2010

And would that include the conferences of all-Ireland parties Joe?

I’ve no problem dealing with the realities of the north being separate and having a separate system. But, as socialists, we of all people are aware of the international nature of capitalism, the commonality of problems faced by workers across borders, and the commonality of their interests.

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Joe - April 19, 2010

I suppose, by my definition, an all-Ireland party is an international party. So every discussion at their conference could go under the International heading! I guess SF and WP would not describe themselves as such. SP might though.

We could go on forever on this. What really really annoys me is the view of many nationalists/republicans that the Unionist people of NI are not British. Maybe my take on this topic and others is a reaction to that reactionary view.

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Garibaldy - April 19, 2010

I can understand your annoyance at the ‘you orangies are Irish whether you want to be or not, but if you try coming to Dublin you’ll get a brick in the head’ mentality that was evident in those riots a few years ago. And more particularly the idea that the unionists are just puppets who dance to London’s string. I think though that idea is much much less important than it once was, and is held only on the wilder edges of dissident nationalism.

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WorldbyStorm - April 19, 2010

Joe, I think it is true that Republicanism and Nationalism for far too long denied the simple fact that for many Unionists their identity is one that is British, albeit that much of the literature in the area demonstrates a considerably greater degree of complexity in that respect than that phrase conveys (Ulster-British, Anglo-Irish, Ulster, Irish etc, etc are all Unionist identities expressed by different Unionists in differing ways). But that being the case all we can work with is the fact that in the North we have two national identities both of which have rights to expression both within and beyond the borders of the North. Even as a Republican I believe that the future will involve a considerable period of a shared or layered political and national identity in that part of the island with links both East and South. But there’s no point in entities in the South pretending that the North is a foreign country any more than those in the South should pretend that for many in the North the UK is not a primary source of identification. I think that much of the trouble of the past forty odd years was generated precisely by a sort of 26-county introspection that ultimately sought to wash its hands of those in the North who shared a national identity which they were effectively unable to express politically, etc.

Let’s be clear about what this is and it isn’t. The Republic of Ireland is a state. Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is not one. Since the GFA establishes bilateral relationships between the RoI and the devolved political institutions in NI any relationship between the two is clearly sui generis and sharply distinct from the relationship between the RoI and the UK or any other state. That being the case it should be treated as sui generis – even by the LP.

What it most certainly isn’t is an ‘international relationship’, not merely due to the respective
nature of the two but because the institutions that have been established under the GFA in certain areas operate through joint decision making between the two executives (something at variance with the EU model where the EU through the Commission and the Parliament has political institutions of its own distinct from the governments). The NI political institutions are essentially free-standing in all but reserved matters retained by London. It’s irrelevant whether the overall GFA itself is an international agreement because we’re talking about the nature of the institutions established under the agreement and the relationship of the RoI with them.

Indeed the GFA is explicit itself about this in the following

CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES
1. The participants endorse the commitment made by the British and Irish Governments that, in a new British-Irish Agreement replacing the Anglo-Irish Agreement, they will:

(i) recognise the legitimacy of whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland with regard to its status, whether they prefer to continue to support the Union with Great Britain or a sovereign united Ireland;

(ii) recognise that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland;

That first line of (ii) positions this as being entirely different to relationships between this state and other states.

Whether the form of the agreements is similar to ‘international agreement’ mechanisms is again entirely irrelevant. Form isn’t synonymous with function, and truth is the form isn’t that similar given that bilateral shared sovereignty even between states, however weak, is actually quite unusual in international affairs.

As regards the comparison with EU law, again the obvious rejoinder is that the EU is starkly different since that represents a multilateral pooling of some aspects of sovereignty in clearly defined areas between many individual nation states. But more importantly one shouldn’t elide the issue of EU law with policy making and implementation by executive authorities. These are two distinct areas.

It’s also important to note that unlike the EU the GFA covers a relationship not just between a sovereign state and institutions within a subsidiary part of another state but with institutions in an area that is adjacent to that state, an area that has specific historical, political, cultural economic and other ties with the South and more over is now – almost absolutely uniquely, in a position whereby it is open to the inhabitants underwritten by the GFA to opt for unity with the South if they so choose.

CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES

(iv) affirm that if, in the future, the people of the island of Ireland exercise their right of self-determination on the basis set out in sections (i) and (ii) above to bring about a united Ireland, it will be a binding obligation on both Governments to introduce and support in their respective Parliaments legislation to give effect to that wish;

It’s not just Unionism that has pointed out that that option is effectively irrevocable even under the terms of the GFA. That too is pretty unique.

Taking the NSMC it’s worth reading the text of the GFA:

1. Under a new British/Irish Agreement dealing with the totality of relationships, and related legislation at Westminster and in the Oireachtas, a North/South Ministerial Council to be established to bring together those with executive responsibilities in Northern Ireland and the Irish Government, to develop consultation, co-operation and action within the island of Ireland
– including through implementation on an all-island and cross-border basis – on matters of mutual interest within the competence of the Administrations, North and South.

2. All Council decisions to be by agreement between the two sides. Northern Ireland to be represented by the First Minister, Deputy First Minister and any relevant Ministers, the Irish Government by the Taoiseach and relevant Ministers, all operating in accordance with the rules for democratic authority and accountability in force in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Oireachtas respectively. Participation in the Council to be one of the essential responsibilities attaching to relevant posts in the two Administrations. If a holder of a relevant post will not participate normally in the Council, the Taoiseach in the case of the Irish Government and the First and Deputy First Minister in the case of the Northern Ireland Administration to be able to make alternative arrangements.

6. Each side to be in a position to take decisions in the Council within the defined authority of those attending, through the arrangements in place for co-ordination of executive functions within each jurisdiction. Each side to remain accountable to the Assembly and Oireachtas respectively, whose approval, through the arrangements in place on either side, would be required for decisions beyond the defined authority of those attending.

Note a crucial distinction from ‘international’ agreements or even the EU. This is a situation where executive responsibilities are ceded not simply to Dublin and Stormont but to the NSMC which is in effect the two working together and to organisations established by them. The idea that Labour or any party is limited in terms of national policy to the border flies in the face of all this, particularly since the LP will soon enough one imagines be sitting at precisely those NSMC meetings and could, were it of a mind, start pushing with the knowledge of at least some support from one party on the Stormont side for some expansion of said organisations.

That the competencies have yet to be tested to the full extent of its potential, that the terms of the GFA allow for an extension and expansion of agreed areas between the RoI and Stormont, without any further legislation at all but merely at the agreement of the two as they now stand, merely underlines further how unique it is. Most important in that regard is that Stormont itself in tandem with Dublin can decide for itself how deep the relationship and agreed areas should be with no reference back to London.

And all of that means that it doesn’t in any sense have to go through ‘international’ channels because this is predicated on an entirely different set of principles and different relationships. The idea then that the Labour Party is constrained by some notion of ‘international’ agreements and therefore the Int’l section is the only, or even the most appropriate section is a complete diversion, indeed even to phrase this discussion in those terms demonstrates how pointless it is.

But that’s also to ignore a raft of other issues.

Firstly that Labour never felt this in the past as is evident from other documents including some in the Left Archive where Northern Ireland was always treated with a specific section of its own.

Secondly that the relationships on this island aren’t constrained simply by the ‘constitutional’ but are, as noted above bound up in a web of historical, political, cultural, ties that make them once again sui generis etc…

Thirdly that there are numerous entities on this island in sporting, economics, politics, etc many of which are in no sense ‘Republican’ which feel no such constraints

Fourthly that the LP itself is a party which has always and even today (unless I missed it) been in favour of unity – a certain relationship with Connolly being a clue

Fifth that in the last two years there were serious discussions inside the LP about how they might manifest themselves politically North of the border, and so on…

All of which point to relationships on this island politically and otherwise as being qualitatively different to those on an ‘international’ level.

What’s intriguing to me, and somewhat dispiriting, is how the arguments of those who claim that this best belongs in the ‘international’ section – due to some purported practical or international agreements aspect of our relationship with entities beyond our border – are so clearly wedded to a Westphalian view of sovereignty which in essence entirely contradicts the governing principles which underpin the GFA.

It’s quite some achievement to argue that the relationship of the RoI and all within it with Northern Ireland is effectively the same, or should be treated as such, as our relationship with Bosnia or Norway, a position that is hardly dissimilar to what the 32CSM argues is the case under the GFA and what the TUV or the most benighted portions of the Conservatives believe should be the case – simply to defend a rather cack-handed piece of work by the LP.

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alastair - April 20, 2010

It’s quite some achievement to argue that the relationship of the RoI and all within it with Northern Ireland is effectively the same, or should be treated as such, as our relationship with Bosnia or Norway, a position that is hardly dissimilar to what the 32CSM argues is the case under the GFA and what the TUV or the most benighted portions of the Conservatives believe should be the case – simply to defend a rather cack-handed piece of work by the LP.

The relationship between the RoI and NI, including the mandate and mechanisms of the NSMC, are fairly typical of friendly cross-border (and yes, international) co-operation – it’s quite clearly different from the relationship between Ireland and Bosia for obvious reasons, but very like the Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai Eurometropolis body – which covers very similar areas to the mandate of the NSMC in a very similar fashion. I’m not really fussed what the 32CSM have to say about the matter, because they’ll consider anything democratic a sellout regardless.

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Ramzi Nohra - April 20, 2010

Alasdair – is that really the case? (the Lille -kotrik thing I mean – I’m not sure where this message will end up).
ie – in particular there’s a large number of people in one territory who openly identify with a neighbouring state? I cant think of anywhere else in Europe which would fall under that

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alastair - April 20, 2010

ie – in particular there’s a large number of people in one territory who openly identify with a neighbouring state? I cant think of anywhere else in Europe which would fall under that

I was more focussed on the political and bureaucratic mechanisms. The NSMC isn’t about fostering any national cultural identity, but about cross-border collaboration that’s in the interests of both parties. In that regard it’s just like the activities of Eurometropolis – Parliamentary representatives meeting regularly, state public service bodies combining forces to chase EU Interreg funding etc, pretty much the bread and butter of the NSMC.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2010

The relationship between the RoI and NI, including the mandate and mechanisms of the NSMC, are fairly typical of friendly cross-border (and yes, international) co-operation – it’s quite clearly different from the relationship between Ireland and Bosia for obvious reasons, but very like the Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai Eurometropolis body – which covers very similar areas to the mandate of the NSMC in a very similar fashion. I’m not really fussed what the 32CSM have to say about the matter, because they’ll consider anything democratic a sellout regardless.

I think that there’s a misunderstanding of, or a mischaracterisation, of the nature of LKT in order to try to suggest that it is somehow similar to the NMSC. This isn’t the case for the following reasons.

First and most importantly the LKT isn’t a socio-economic and political (since it’s strictly speaking a socio-economic structure in the case of LKT with almost no political representation aspect) element to a broad based number of aspects of a conflict resolution process – as is the case with the GFA institutions.

Secondly the LKT area is not a politically contested territory in the sense that the North remains so, even under the provisions of the GFA where it is entirely legitimate for either Nationalists/Republicans or Unionists to pursue their aims constitutionally.

Thirdly the LKT area is restricted not to a national government and a subsidiary institution of another state – which I have to reiterate happens to be quite an innovative development in such contested areas – but is structured between partners at regional or municipal level. You won’t get the President or Prime Minister of France or the French cabinet sitting down with the regional heads in LKT structures. No shame in that, it’s a great idea. The clue though is in the fact that Lille, Kortrijk and Tournei are all cities and the term ‘Eurometropolis’ is applied to them and their surrounding regions.

Fourthly it doesn’t have the same instrumentality as the NSMC, and other institutions of the GFA.
Useful to reflect on the following from this document:

http://www.espaces-transfrontaliers.org/en/conurbations/Eurometropole_Lille_en.pdf

The organisation set up by the Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai Eurometropole is achieved without any transfer of
competence in as far as the various organs created cannot take the place of the already existing
national components.
This being the case, each member will see to it, within their own institution, that
the decisions taken are implemented.

That being the case it cannot as the GFA institutions can establish new structures that could supplant pre-existing ‘national components’. Which leads directly to the next point…

Fifth, it is very clear that it is about what it is: http://www.eulib.com/thelille-kortrijk-tournai-eurometropolis-new-generation-european-cooperation-222

the Eurometropolis aim[ing] to improve cross-border cooperation, focusing on mobility, jobs and the problems ofcross-border regions.

The GFA by contrast has the potential, and indeed in the NSMC the authority – should it choose to do so, to encompass considerably more than that, indeed pretty much everything bar the reserved matters (IIRC, and there may be scope there for future development) held by London.

And LKT is most certainly not about blurring the boundaries between the nation states those areas encompass, implicitly or explicitly which leads to…

Sixth, there’s no possibility at all implicit in the provisions of LKT that it could ever result in the development of a political entity encompassing the area. Unlike the GFA.

But most importantly it doesn’t even regard itself as being analogous to the NSMC given that it regards itself as being:

…the creation of the EGTC, the first European legal instrument facilitating territorial cooperation, had stemmed from a CoR political initiative.

*****************************

I was more focussed on the political and bureaucratic mechanisms. The NSMC isn’t about fostering any national cultural identity, but about cross-border collaboration that’s in the interests of both parties. In that regard it’s just like the activities of Eurometropolis – Parliamentary representatives meeting regularly, state public service bodies combining forces to chase EU Interreg funding etc, pretty much the bread and butter of the NSMC.

Then you’re focusing wrong. There are no parliamentary representatives meeting regularly from the French Assembly with regional representatives from Belgium in relation to LKT. This is largely a technocratic structure which has stakeholders (regional, municipal, etc) involved rather than political or executive representatives. The LKT ‘Assembly’ is structured as follows:

http://66.102.9.132/search?q=cache:H2n2WMBVABYJ:cesci-net.e
/docs/State%2Bof%2Bplay%2B2009%2B-%2BEGTC.pdf+Assembly+of+Eurométropole&cd=10&hl=en&ct=clnk&client=safari

Establishing a platform to strengthen political commitment for coopera-
tion: Eurométropole Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai has succeeded in achieving the
highest level of political commitment in the cooperation area, which is reflected by its internal governance structure: An Assembly with 84 representatives, where the mayor of Lille serves as president, assisted by 3 vice-presidents.

The Mayor of Lille – eh? Now there’s a political figure to conjure with. But that alone demonstrates that the comparison with the NSMC is incorrect since the two would be in no way comparable.

In any case, even if there were parliamentary meetings that’s not the model that the NSMC takes given that it (the NSMC) has meetings between the executive arms of Dublin and Stormont (it’s a Ministerial Council). And although it is true that some of the areas of agreement discussed under the aegis of the NSMC are similar to the areas discussed within LKT that’s about as relevant as arguing that because the Dublin Cabinet discusses regional cooperation within Ireland that means that regional cooperation is all the Dublin Cabinet is about.

And to date no-one has said that the NSMC is about ‘fostering a national cultural identity’, what ever that may be given that a national identity is not synonymous with a cultural identity and is not synonymous with a political identity. What it is about doing is fostering cooperation between the representative bodies on this island, enabling shared decision between the two executive bodies on the island in various areas and providing a space for potential future economic and political developments on an all island basis (again, a strikingly different goal to that of LKT where the cooperation is seen as being worthwhile in and of itself).

But at root what this discussion demonstrates is a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of the Good Friday Agreement and the nature of the institutions, and in particular the NSMC, established under it. The point isn’t what they’re discussing or making decisions about, although that has some significance and the fact there’s scope to increase those areas is crucial. It’s the fact that it is the representatives of the two executive authorities on this island – one a state government, the other an executive, with those representatives elected directly in national or near national elections – unlike the Mayor of Lille, coming together to make decisions jointly without external interference.

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Starkadder - April 20, 2010

Speaking of Two Nations Theories, does anyone
remember the time Jack Conrad of the CPGB
floated one a few years ago?

http://www.cpgb.org.uk/worker2/index.php?action=viewarticle&article_id=805

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2010

I’d forgotten that. It still seems reductionist, to me, in other words trying to shift to territory rather than people, although it is couched in the context of people.

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Ramzi Nohra - April 19, 2010

Joe raises a good point in that we need to recognise Unionists have a British aspect to their identity / are British.

My concern thoguh is that the debate in the south has moved so far from that to the extent that there are key figures trying to deny the Irish identity of Northern nationalists

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Ramzi Nohra - April 19, 2010

errrr, to reply to my own reply, the position of the vast bulk of Irish nationalism has been to recognise Unionists are British.

Whether that constituents them being part of the British state is another matter of course.

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WorldbyStorm - April 19, 2010

That would be my concern too.

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Skarp-Hedin - April 20, 2010

Be very careful, that’s a two-nationist position. In fact it’s the two-nationist position. Be very careful.

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Tim - April 20, 2010

There’s also been much movement in NI among Unionists denying their own Irishness, Ramzi, something unthinkable 50 years ago. Playing right into the hands of those who consider us ‘foreign’. I was constantly threatened growing up for being “English” -which I’m not – and took a few knocks for it, hardly endearing me to Irish nationalism.
Unionists need to learn that they are, indeed, Irish, but at the same time that there is more than one way to be so.
We will not a happy minority make…

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Tim - April 20, 2010

Correction: that previous comment’s wording identifies me as a Unionist, when it is intended to mean Irish Protestant.

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Ramzi Nohra - April 20, 2010

Hi Tim,

Correct re diminishing view of irishness among unionists. An inevitable reaction to the “Irishness” of the other side. I wonder if there was a diminishing view of the Britishness of nationalists in the North?… although i doubt it, as I doubt they felt it in the first place.

Sad to hear you’re story about being branded English etc -was this in your view due to you being Protestant? I have to say that does surprise me (genuinely by the way – I’m not doubting you)

Skarp-Hedin. The fact is Unionists consider themselves British. Seems a bit ridiculous as they left “Britain” a few hundred years ago, but there you go. I am aware that comes across as being patronising – I would consider the same if people in Australia or Canada of British descent considered themselves British.

However, I dont think that should stop eventual unification.. and it certainly doesnt justify the undemocratic creation of Northern Ireland. It does however also impel nationalists to make Irishness open to Unionists (without cravenly surrendering all cultural aspects which dont appeal to the most recalcitrant unionists). Thats another debate however.

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Joe - April 20, 2010

Tim, that’s a disheartening story about you being hit for being “English”. Did you grow up in the RoI? I grew up in middle class Dublin and I do remember an encounter between two young lads about my age (10ish at the time) in which one Catholic lad whose da was an army officer calling his Protestant neighbour “English”. The answer was a very strong “I am not English”. But it shows that sectarian difference was a reality bubbling for the most part pretty far under the surface, but there nonetheless.
Ramzi, in what way was the creation of Northern Ireland undemocratic? The majority of the people of Northern Ireland supported its creation. I’m pretty sure the majority of the people at the time of the entity of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland also supported its creation.

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Ramzi Nohra - April 20, 2010

Joe
In two profound ways:

1) The majority of the Irish people (ie people living in Ireland) wanted independence from Britain. Of course there was some geographical variation in this feeling, but why should one essentially arbitrary area get to opt out? Its not as though they could opt-out in a general election if the vote didnt go that way ( a stretched analogy, I appreciate).

Which leads to …

2) Even if one thinks there was a democratic mandate for partition, there were large areas of Northern Ireland itself in which the majority of people wanted to be independent from Britain. Two of the Six counties – at the time of Partition – had an Irish nationalist majority. They were Fermanagh and Tyrone.
As well as that Derry City, East Derry, South Armagh and Down also had Nationalist majorities. The inclusion of these areas gives the lie to the idea that NI was created for democratic reasons.

That is before getting into the widespread gerrymandering carried out by the state after its creation.

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Tim - April 20, 2010

Ramzi/Joe
yep, I grew up in Waterford.
It was about going to a Protestant school (primary and secondary) and having to walk past De la Salle to get there. So, going to the school marks you out, and if you have a hint of ‘posh’ in your voice .. you’re just “English” !
But, kids are kids, and I’m sure fat kids and ginger kids get picked on for that too 🙂

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Joe - April 20, 2010

Cheers Tim. Some of the kids in the Corporation estate in Kilbarrack had a go off us the odd time because we were posh. Or now that I think of it, maybe they could see that I was iffy on the national question.
I had a really enjoyable time in Ballymun just last year talking to some grandmothers about growing up around Bolton St and Nth King St in inner city Dublin. They told stories of slagging the Protestant kids as they went to their school in that area – and they said the Protestants were well able to slag them back.
Ramzi. I don’t get that Northern Ireland was an arbitrary area. It was an area that had a majority in favour of partition. And some of your other points could be taken to mean that some form of partition of a smaller, more heavily Unionist area of NI, would have been ok.
We could go on forever and we probably will. But maybe we should park it and spend our time more usefully e.g. trying to stop the Corpo closing swimming pools or some such.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2010

Tim, I had a not entirely dissimilar experience since my mother was English and there was a strong Protestant aspect to my family… In part that was an accent thing. Still, I guess if it hadn’t been that it would be something else, height, weight, hair length, who knows….

Skarp… two nations is problematic to me because it seems to argue that these are contiguous with the geographical areas on this island whereas I think that we’d be better employed in seeing it as one and two half nations, with dual national identities in the north. Quite a difference from a Unionist take all position I’d hope.

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Skarp-Hedin - April 20, 2010

WBS: “one and two half nations, with dual national identities in the north.” I think was Desmond Fennell’s take on the two nations position and is the reason he is now published by Athol Books.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2010

Interesting. Fennell’s stuff even if one doesn’t agree with it is well worth reading IMO.

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Ramzi Nohra - April 20, 2010

Joe
Sorry you did ask the question!

By the logic you’re using, Antrim & Down combined arbitrarily with any four counties from the current Republic (except Dublin and probably Cork) would have made a “democratic” British state as the majority in that area would have wanted to stay with Britain.

And that ignores that for Ireland as a whole, one would say the most natural unit of calculation, the democratic mandate was clearly for independence.

But you’re right… its probably worth leaving. There are indeed more pressing matters which we can hopefully influence.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2010

Just to add, it is true that as regards partition and the North it can sometimes seem as if people are arguing for a repartition (I’m not suggesting that of you Ramzi, by the way have I ever said what a great name that is?), but, the thing is that it was Unionism which was quite happy to jettison the other 3 Ulster counties, who had seen their Unionist populations sign the Covenant as well, when it was expedient. I’m not suggesting an argument as facile as they started it, but when it comes to partition no one can walk away with any great dignity, not least because it was intrinsically paradoxical and contradictory (consider the cutting of the links over time, with the railways as late as the 40s/50s, in Donegal and Cavan and Monaghan as the natural hinterland of urban centres in what is now Northern Ireland). Moreover, and this is where I think it is truly pernicious, there was never any effort on either side of the border to move away from an official national identity (such as could be constructed under the circumstances) which engaged with the fact that in the South a small but not insignificant minority considered themselves to have a British identity and in the North a much larger minority considered themselves to have an Irish (capital ‘I’) identity. That little thought was put, bar the rather cosmetic, but not entirely so, Seanad seats to allowing expression to this in the South, and frankly none at all was done in the North is to no-ones credit.

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Tim - April 21, 2010

Joe
“maybe they could see that I was iffy on the national question.”

brilliant!

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Ramzi Nohra - April 20, 2010

You’re very kind Mr By Storm. Without meaning to get into a sycophantic spiral I think you have a cool name too.

As you have no doubt guessed my name is assumed – I took it from this somewhat misguided but interesting Lebanese gent

http://reminiscor.blogspot.com/2005/07/double-agent-played-deadly-game.html

Proposition Joe would like him, if he still visits these parts.

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11. que - April 19, 2010

forgive my youth but what do you mean by the Irtish left is generally crypto-republican

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12. Mick Herbert - April 19, 2010

‘but if you try coming to Dublin you’ll get a brick in the head’ mentality that was evident in those riots a few years ago.’
Was that all that was evident in those riots? Do you think that a march by victims of republican violence that was not led by Orange bands or by Willie Fraser, who made clear that he did not regard UVF/UDA violence as the same as that of the IRA at all, would have been attacked? I don’t beleive it would have. And all the trouble was with the cops: no loyalist got ‘a brick in the head.’

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13. Garibaldy - April 19, 2010

Yes you’re right, the trouble was with the cops. But my memory was that there were efforts by those fighting with the cops to move towards where the march was due to take place. Perhaps I am mistaken? I wonder too what would have happened had the march walked down O’Connell Street.

I agree with you that a march by victims other than Fraser would most likely have met with a different response. But the mentality under discussion tells Fraser he is Irish whether he wants to be or not. And the people protesting against Fraser quite rightly regard the old unionist regime’s ban on republicans marching, displaying the tricolour etc as anti-democratic. So it seems to me that arguing that unionists should not to be able to hold a protest march through Dublin while at the same time telling them that they Irish whether they liked it or not was contradictory. Treating them as less Irish due to their politics while insisting on their Irishness at the same time. It seemed to me that Irishness was being defined according to their own particular variety.

I’m fairly sure there were people who joined in for the sake of it, or hatred of the cops or whatever too.

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14. blogtok - April 19, 2010

The reaction from one or two over on Politicalworld.org was fairly sharp. I can’t say that I blame them. It appears to be a fairly conciously aimed kick in the teeth.

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15. Ghandi - April 19, 2010

The Dublin riots had liitle to do with Fraser etc, indeed I doubt if any of the rioters had ever heard of Fraser or indeed The Orange Order. On that day a number of factors came into play, including sunshine, a Celtic Match, plenty of drink and DCC providing ample ammunition in O’Connell Street.

It was an attack on the Police by disaffected youths in response to the heavy handed style of policing in working class communities.

It could have been any march the outcome would have been the same. It was an increase on the regular St. Patricks day riots.

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WorldbyStorm - April 19, 2010

Definitely agree there were more factors than just Fraser.

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Wednesday - April 20, 2010

There was no Celtic match on the day. It was alleged that some of the rioters came out of a pub on O’Connell Street which ordinarily served as a headquarters for Celtic fans, but if they were there (and I’m not sure it was ever substantiated that they were) it wasn’t for a Celtic game.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2010

That’s true now you mention it.

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alastair - April 20, 2010

I’ve attended a few Orange and Apprentice marches in my day. You’ve left out the camp appeal of the event. Militaristic, but with a Freedonian sensibility.

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alastair - April 20, 2010

It certainly wasn’t ‘an attack on the Police by disaffected youths in response to the heavy handed style of policing in working class communities.’ It was a mob of scumbags egged on by various ‘crypto-republican’ shit stirrers, who directed their violence at the cops, only when they got between the two groups, and then took rather more interest in looting and random vandalism than targeting the gardai.

Unless it was a distraction exercise to ensure Charlie Bird got a a kicking.

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Dr. X - April 20, 2010

In response to your ‘Freedonian’ point – I see what you mean, and there is always a certain carnivalesque element to the proceedings. . . but when you have lads in black uniforms with ‘Protestant Action Force’ on them marching past your house, it’s difficult to recognise any camp element. That’s drowned out by the tramp of the boots and the drums which sound like machine gun fire. . .

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Dr. X - April 20, 2010

Another thing is that very few people down here have actually seen an Orange march of the Loyalist kind. I have, and they are genuinely aggressive, chauvinistic, militaristic provocations. Now, the adult way to respond to provocations is not to respond to them at all – but unfortunately not everyone will make that adult decision.

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Starkadder - April 20, 2010

Perhaps the folk of the Garvahy Road should stick up
huge posters showing Innocent XI and Alexander VIII
supporting King Billy? 😉

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16. Ramzi Nohra - April 20, 2010

All the above may be true. I do remember the reaction of Shinners I knew to news of the riots. They went mental. Very pissed off – as they should have been.

Not that stopped the odd Indo-type from allegeding they were in the thick of it of course.

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17. Joe - April 20, 2010

@WBS long post above. Fair play. A comprehensive rebuttal. I’m trying to work out an alternative heading under which the LP can have their debate next year. One that could satisfy all of us! Suggestions please, all…

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Joe - April 20, 2010

I have it! They should debate Northern Ireland under the heading Northern Ireland.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2010

I entirely agree.

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18. shane - April 20, 2010

I’m kicking myself trying to remember the first name of a prominent UUP member in the 1940s – last name was Montgomery ( I think he was treasurer or secretary of the UUP) – who set up the Irish Association with a number of Ulster Unionists. He was a great great **** grandnephew of Hugh Montgomery who planted County Down with Scot settlers. His Association was set up to better relations with the south, and to promote reconciliation with Catholics. I read the correspondance he had with a Catholic priest- whose name escapes me – with the aim of securing his help to promote dialogue between the two traditions. They were fascinating, and I’m annoyed that I can’t remember where I read them. In those he utterly repudiated the two nations theory and wanted to promote a greater appreciation of Irishness among Protestants. I think he also wanted to eventually promote a united Ireland, but this hangs loose from memory. Anyway I know his association was welcomed by DeValera and condemned by the Northern Whig and the Belfast News Letter. Does anyone here know anything about them?

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