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Redmond and Adams? August 31, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

What do people make of this, written in the IT by Ronan O’Brien, an advisor to the last government, a piece that seeks to make a comparison between John Redmond and Gerry Adams? I was particularly struck by the following line.

The difficulty is that while Redmond was open to a more positive association with Britain, Adams is not. Nor is he alone in that. Redmond, like Parnell before him, had underestimated the attachment of unionism to its British identity. But it is well established now. The challenge, post-Good Friday agreement and the consent principle, is how that British identity can be reconciled with a republican view that nothing positive emerged from our past membership of the UK?

Is any of that correct? Adams, as the author of the piece acknowledges, has been clear about being open to to ‘other arrangements’ than a unitary state. And as part of that would, inevitably, be links to the UK of some form or another during a perhaps very long, perhaps indefinite, transitional period. Adams, like many, may not consider that optimal, but recognising that the optimal is unachievable in the short to medium term is not the same as saying that he/they are not open to more positive associations.

And what then of the claim that republicans view that ‘nothing positive emerged from our past membership of the UK’? I’m a republican, I know some here also are, and others are not. But it would be a fairly unreconstructed example of the former who was so simplistic in their thinking as to believe nothing good came from that period.

But it’s also interesting because – in my reading of it – it evades a central aspect of republican critiques (in both large and small ‘r’ versions in relation to Ireland, and by the by I’d be an English republican too while we’re on the subject) which is about how political power is exercised and who represents and who is represented.

In other words it wasn’t simply the issue of being a member of the UK or whether there were positive or negative aspects of that ‘membership’ but what that entailed, a more rather than less inevitable democratic deficit, loss of sovereignty, local representation, democratic representation and so on.

And he completely ignores the reality today that in Scotland those issues still loom sufficiently large, even in the context of a more advanced British polity, to power the representation of the SNP – perhaps not quite to the point of rupture with the UK, but certainly to a devo-max situation.

Nor is it particularly difficult to see a certain softening of north-east/west identities between NI and the UK still being entirely possible in the context of an Ireland that is shifting towards a unitary state situation.

Ironically if anything is putting that last at risk it is the threat of Brexit, an almost entirely home-grown English political dynamic.

Notable is the lack of an actual example of how that reconciling of British identity and Republican views might be achieved. Is he talking about rejoining the Commonwealth, or some other all islands (plural) representative structures or something else entirely. Does he think that the only barrier to these are Sinn Féin? And would they be of any particular utility?

His last line is interesting for it seems to swerve off on a different tangent entirely:

It is a while since the Irish State or politicians grappled with these issues. We talk about the financial obstacles to unity but surely when there is a will a way can be found. It might be that we find the cultural challenge too demanding?

It is difficult to know precisely what cultural challenge that is. It certainly won’t be for want of trying on the part of some. But it surely won’t be made easier by the indifferent to Ireland but far from positive dynamics of English nationalism.


1. Gerryboy - August 31, 2016

The ethnic question raises its ugly head. Blood is thicker than water. Scottish and Welsh ethnic identities have always been strongly there, only that British Labour drew most of the votes, for class reasons, until lately. The Labour distractor has eroded in Scotland and ethno-populism has taken over. South Wales changes more slowly due to the industrial class factor. Within ten years an independent Scotland could make many Ulster unionists, some of whom are Ulster-Scots, change direction from the magnet of London to the new magnet of Edinburgh. A single Ireland could become West Fife, and the Wild Atlantic Way could stretch from Aberdeen to Bantry. Just thinking.


2. Joe - August 31, 2016

There might be a little too much thinking going on. David McWilliams in the Indo thinks our future is out of the EU. The future he says is “an Atlantic Ireland, an essential mercantile part of the global supply chain, home to the largest and most innovative companies in the world. This way lies prosperity.”

I think we should go for it. I’d say the Scots and the Ulster Scots (both of whom due to their ethnicity are innately ‘canny’) would want to join us for a piece of the action. Immigration from English and Welsh workers, looking for jobs at the lower end of the global supply chain, would have to be carefully managed. Here also, ethnic make-up could come in handy – if they’ve a bit of Paddy in them, they should get a few extra points.

It is mad Ted.

PS: I’m jesting.

Liked by 1 person

3. Joe - August 31, 2016

More from McWilliams:

“Let’s not forget, without multinational investment, Ireland would be Albania with brutal weather. The multinationals have completely transformed the capital base of the country, totally upgraded the type of careers that are available to people here and plugged Ireland into the global economy in a way that is impossible to quantify. In short, they – not the EU – are the key to Ireland’s economic modernity. The future is the smartphone, the technology and the Silicon Valley way of looking at the world.”

Is he channelling the Irish Industrial Revolution? And so, is he right?


Ed - August 31, 2016

Well, all the technologies used in smartphones were created using US government money for R&D and later picked up by Apple and co, so the Silicon Valley way of looking at things really means sucking at the public teat while presenting yourself to the world as a swashbuckling individualist with a Wild West spirit.


4. deiseach - August 31, 2016

The money quote is “the Rising effectively marked the beginning of the end of a search for an all-island solution”. The school of national self-loathing that has managed to dominate the discourse in these islands for the best part of half a century likes to smarmily suggest that unity was possible until the Rising hardened British/Unionist hearts. The fact that half a century of efforts to advance the nationalist cause in the mother of Parliaments was upended b y events in Larne in April 1914 never seems to enter the equation. Oddly enough, articles like this routinely do Unionists the disservice of thinking that their national identity can be bought and sold. If only the Irish state ‘grappled with these issues’ then an accommodation could be reached, right? Wrong. This was a mistake both John Redmond and Gerry Adams made. Perhaps if the former had lived long enough he might have seen the error of his ways, as the latter did. But I can’t see those who view Redmond as a prophet who was not recognised in his own land ever admitting that he might have gone down a historical dead end, not least because they can’t see it themselves, despite having the benefit of hindsight denied to Redmond.


WorldbyStorm - August 31, 2016

+1 entirely agree with you re assumption made in such pieces. Quite apart from which HR and the GFA are radically different from one another.


deiseach - August 31, 2016

Good point. Remember the fraught atmosphere around the GFA? Imagine trying to overlay such a solution onto Ireland in the 1910’s. It’s ludicrous, but this article seems to believe some kind of peace conference could have been thrashed out but for . . . seriously, what set of first principles does the likes of Ronan O’Brien imagine could have been agreed upon by the various parties that might have led to such a get-together?


EWI - August 31, 2016

It’s ludicrous, but this article seems to believe some kind of peace conference could have been thrashed out but for . . . seriously, what set of first principles does the likes of Ronan O’Brien imagine could have been agreed upon by the various parties that might have led to such a get-together?

It’s (to coin a phrase) ahistorical shite, but that’s what the Brutonist school of Irish history relies on to defy reality, which is where there were several attempts to avert such a catastrophe (partition). All of which floundered on the blank cheque given to Ulster Unionism by the English Tories and the Imperial army.

Incidentally, Geraldine Dillon (neé Plunkett) and other contemporaries related a belief that the lawyer Carson actually had no genuine interest in the whole issue, and instead was being bankrolled as a frontman by the Tories, with the (backfiring) aim of stopping Home Rule.

Liked by 1 person

5. Paddy Healy - August 31, 2016

Michael Collins: We have won the freedom to win freedom. The Treaty is a stepping stone to Irish Unity (But in the meantime we must cut pay and pensions)

Sinn Féin; The establishment of the Stormont executive is a step towards IRISH UNITY. WE EXPECT IRISH UNITY by 2016! (But in the meantime we must implement British cuts)

Liked by 2 people

6. gendjinn - August 31, 2016

“…with a republican view that nothing positive emerged from our past membership of the UK?”

Membership? We were a colony. Colonised, brutalised, repeated genocides.

No other former colony in the history of the world lamented their freedom from tyranny, nor longed for it’s return, so cravenly as the Irish media to. It is frankly astounding how many people sell themselves for the hope of a few extra quid in their pocket by getting a job in the UK media.

Liked by 1 person

EWI - September 2, 2016

It is frankly astounding how many people sell themselves for the hope of a few extra quid in their pocket by getting a job in the UK media.

At least two very high-profiles of whom, to my knowledge, had very close relatives (allegedly) in the IRA. Something they never shared with their Little Englander target demographic!


WorldbyStorm - September 3, 2016

You gotta pm me with that!


EWI - September 3, 2016

Done. The first name has appeared here before, but the second’s a ‘doozy’.


7. An Sionnach Fionn - August 31, 2016

John Redmond was an Irish “regionalist” not a “nationalist”, despite the title he assumed as the “leader of nationalist Ireland”. He was a green unionist with no desire to see the establishment of an independent and sovereign nation state of Ireland, partitioned or not. His whole career was built on the premise he repeatedly avowed in public and in private: a devolved government in Dublin ruling a devolved country within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for the peaceful and ordered benefit of the UK as a whole. That was the “association” he desired.

All this Redmondite nonsense is simply a form of empire and big house nostalgia from the usual suspects in Ireland. In a British context it would manifest itself in the politics of UKIP and Brexit.

In terms of reunification the likely form has been discussed in SF, SDLP and Irish government circles since 1998. The GFA-in-reverse model seems the only practical one since the bones of it are there already (minus the opt-out referendum post-reunification).

Liked by 1 person

8. Joe - September 2, 2016

This Keady man has a good take on the reality of Home Rule. The last verse nails it.


9. Paddy Healy - September 3, 2016

A Commemoration of Seán Treacy will take place in Talbot St, Dublin at 11.45 AM tomorrow Sunday , September 4 before the All-Ireland Hurling Final
Seán Treacy was shot in October 1920, on Talbot Street in Dublin, by British forces.
Please make a special effort to attend in this 100th anniversary year of the 1916 Rising


10. roddy - September 3, 2016

One of my favourite rebel songs of all time is “Tipperary so far away” ,a fitting tribute to Sean Treacy.


Joe - September 11, 2016

Only seeing this now. Never heard of that song before. Had a great night in the local with a Tipp friend after they won the all-Ireland. Sorry I hadn’t heard of this Sean Treacy song before then – a man can only take a set number of renditions of Slievenamon and Galtee Mountain Boy.
I’ll learn the Sean Treacy one for next year.


Paddy Healy - September 11, 2016

From Galtee Mountain Boy
“we crossed the Wicklow Mountains, we were rebels on the run….”
Ask your Tipperary friend what this means and how did it occur

Hint: It is a very anti-free state song though I have heard many FG supporters sing it!!!!


11. Paddy Healy - September 11, 2016

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey in an Interview with Ronan Burtenshaw in Us left-wing Journal “Jacobin Magazine”
In the North “Sinn Féin are losing the trust and the support of the people who once voted for them, the Catholic working class”
Full Interview http://wp.me/pKzXa-tz
Bernadette Devlin:”But many who fought in the democratic and the armed struggle perceive themselves to be no better off. The economic and social system we have has consigned them to is continued welfare, poor education, and now austerity. Yet their opposition to this is described as “dissidence” and dismissed.
Meanwhile, I am seeing things come full circle. I have lived to see food banks in Dungannon, where I work. When we were young and angry enough to be marching here against poverty in the 1960s, there was nobody living on food banks. The social housing waiting list in this town is now greater than it was when the Dungannon Housing Action movement started(in the 1960’s).”


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