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After the Assembly elections… and how Brexit is now impacting politics on the island. March 9, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Another thought or two to add to those articulated here already this week.

Newton Emerson is uncharacteristically subdued in his assessment of the Assembly elections in the IT. He weaves a picture where SF is delighted to see the Executive out of the picture for the moment, and suggests that for that party unity is the big ticket item.

Now Stormont can serve directly to remove the border – by triggering a border poll, exploiting Brexit, or sustaining a crisis that draws Dublin into Northern affairs. That may or may not involve a bit more governing with unionists, but no matter. The big picture is in play.

I’m sceptical. I can’t see that it could be that easy. I’m inclined to the view that, yes, the Assembly elections, and more pointedly Brexit have made unity more rather than less likely – certainly more likely than it was a year or two ago, but that it will still be a long long decades long process.

But he’s got a point in the following. That even if the Assembly survives…

The DUP may continue to disgrace itself in an assembly, further boosting the forces behind last week’s election. More interestingly, unionism may learn some humility and not veto motions, acts or private member’s Bills on landmark issues such as same-sex marriage or the Irish language.
But either way, unionists will be demonstrating their new minority status on Stormont’s benches. The centrist Alliance party, which holds the balance of power, is “presumed unionist” although officially unaligned. It does not take much to shake that assumption, however, as shown by the 2012 flag row at Belfast City Council – another non-executive assembly where Alliance is the meat in a DUP-Sinn Féin sandwich.

That’s actually spot on re Alliance. Softly unionist but willing to compromise in a way that the UUP and DUP simply can or will not.

And are pennies dropping in relation to how matters are changing in Northern Ireland?

Under the Belfast Agreement, the secretary of state may call a border poll if it seems likely that nationalism might win.
The test for this is undefined but a nationalist majority in the assembly is usually cited. While we are years away from that eventuality, if ever, unionism would not have to lose many votes to muddy the waters.

Even with soft unionist outriders the big picture has shifted, and substantially. Here let me give credit where credit is due. Emerson has long argued that Unionism should ‘cut a deal’ now, or rather in the immediate past, when it was much stronger rather than allowing events to overcome it. The basic point is that now there’s a rough parity internally (not at Westminster elections). But how long until that rough parity is reflected at Westminster? What happens when DUP/SF are level pegging?

And Emerson asks a good question:

Of course, once this occurs to unionism (border polls being called et), it will veto everything and become even more off-putting to everyone else – a win-win scenario for republicans.
Anything less than full devolution means a degree of direct rule from London, enabling Sinn Féin to demand input from Dublin.

And in his horrible scenario (from his perspective – sort of kind of)…

Brexit has created a political basis for Dublin intervention, along with a slow-motion, all-Ireland crisis that can be synchronised to problems at Stormont.
Enda Kenny has already said he will speak for the North in Brussels in the absence of an executive.
Early last decade, when Sinn Féin began abandoning its euroscepticism, it described the European Parliament as “a site of struggle”.

And so. Finally. The penny does indeed drop.

He moves beyond the line that Brexit is something he can tut tut over the irrational fears of the RoI in regard to. It is a tangible presence that has impacted directly upon politics on this island even in advance of being made manifest through the calling of Article 50. It has – without question, lifted SF to a particularly high polling position. It has altered the complexion of the Assembly, actually shifted the balance of power in relation to Unionism and Nationalism/Republicanism.

And whether one thinks his last line is absurd if only because it describes every political party in the world ‘It is always about the struggle for Sinn Féin, in every parliament. Stormont is never an exception’ or whether one thinks it accurate, the point is that everything is changed utterly.

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Comments»

1. irishelectionliterature - March 9, 2017

Brexit could well change an awful lot for The North. It was always assumed that there were economic reasons to stay in the Union, with Brexit that may not be the case. London doesn’t give a hoot about the North and it certainly won’t be replacing the EU funding in The North with the extra amounts of The Queens shilling.
If Scotland goes Independent , then the Union is in further jeopardy. Now I know this is far fetched but I wonder before we see a Border Poll could we see a (post Scottish Independence) UK Referendum on getting rid of The North. The North being a financial drain on all those Daily Mail readers, Spongers as it were.

Liked by 1 person

EWI - March 9, 2017

I think you underestimate the emotional attachment of Daily Mail readers to King, Country and Empire. Finally losing the last piece of Ireland they hold would force a mental re-drawing of the ‘British Isles’ malarkey, and that would it anything push them further to the right.

Anyone else following the UK demands to all of Lough Foyle as their territory? I cannot imagine the EU allowing this, even with the habitual Dublin prostration before British demands.

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sonofstan - March 9, 2017

I agree. I’ve said it before, but not many of the DM readership had any strong feelings about the Falklands before 1981.
Something that we tend not to factor in either, but something that’s clearer when you’re away from metropolitan areas here, is the attachment to, and experience of, ‘the forces’ that runs through large sections of society. I’ve had some curious encounters with guys who served in the north, eager to explain their take on Ireland to me, and those views percolate.

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sonofstan - March 9, 2017

And just to add, if the UK is humiliated by the EU in negotiations and the economic consequences start to bite, a short sharp war might be just what they need..

Liked by 1 person

irishelectionliterature - March 9, 2017

Where’s left other than The Falklands and Gibraltar that anyone would be likely to invade?

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sonofstan - March 9, 2017

The battle of the Foyle!

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Michael Carley - March 9, 2017

Rockall!

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shea - March 9, 2017

the scots claim rockall, not though the medium of bad song though.

If they go independent it could be the grounds for the first argument with the new neighbours, which would be nice.

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GW - March 9, 2017

Sure a little (civil) war would be most convenient at some point in the Brexit debacle, I fear.

We say it partly in jest perhaps but UK has a good deal of form in this regard.

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Michael Carley - March 9, 2017

So who is the Cromwell of our day?

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shea - March 9, 2017

lough foyle perhaps.

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1729torus - March 9, 2017

What views? That Irish secession shouldn’t have been “allowed”?

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dublinstreams - March 9, 2017

I wonder if Brexit was foreseen in any Sinn Fein policy documents on unification say 7 to 10 years ago or more?

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shea - March 9, 2017

Adams could fall in to the liffy and come out with a new suit.

When his project looks like it has no Road left a world recession happens or what ever.

They are over egging it a bit but alot is luck, positioning maybe for there part.

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1729torus - March 9, 2017

The IIEAhad been considering Brexit for a long while.

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2. EWI - March 9, 2017

[…] Unionism may learn some humility […]

Unionism will never, ever ‘learn humility’ because the underlying point, after all, is lording it over the Catholic Irish. Take that away and it just collapses as a political force.

Liked by 1 person

3. CL - March 9, 2017

“The flatlining Sinn Fein vote has now been jolted into life by an unexpected spike in identity politics….”
But “the deep-lying, immovable truths that have kept Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom have not changed. First, unionists still hold a safe majority, even if many of them cannot bring themselves to vote for local unionist parties. Second, no one is in any doubt about the economic catastrophe that would follow, should the UK Treasury be withdrawn from the equation.”-John Bew
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2017/03/brexit-has-reawakened-nationalists-desire-united-ireland-dublin-unmoved

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sonofstan - March 9, 2017

“he latest round of flouncing and indignation deserves more serious attention because it is intimately connected to the health of the Union as a whole.”

It doesn’t matter what the paddies do to themselves, but if it threatens ‘us’….

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sonofstan - March 9, 2017

And this:
“The soft de facto unionism that was growing in that community, one that recognises that the British state secures a high standard of living and economic security, has been disturbed”

Or low wages and low productivity for most of the country? The standard of living here in “the British state” is lower for most people than in Ireland

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oconnorlysaght - March 9, 2017

And when EU funding is withdrawn from the equation?

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4. CL - March 9, 2017

” the question of the re-unification of Ireland is now back on the agenda. This is not only the demand among Sinn Fein and other Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland, it is being echoed by mainstream parties in the south….
For the British Tory government to ‘lose’ Scotland would look like real carelessness. If Northern Ireland was to leave the UK as well, the repercussions could trigger a fully blown British constitutional crisis – over and on top of the inevitable economic and social convulsions triggered by a final Brexit.”-John Palmer.
https://www.socialeurope.eu/2017/03/northern-ireland-elections-warning-light-mays-brexit-plans/

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5. roddy - March 9, 2017

When I hear the name “Bew” ,alarm bells begin ringing.I take it he is related to the stick / UUP / Tory Paul Bew.

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Alibaba - March 9, 2017

Who are you and what did you do to roddy?

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6. roddy - March 9, 2017

Some prick called Bew pontifficating in the “new statesman”!

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7. sonofstan - March 11, 2017

reading Enzo Traverso’s Left Wing Melancholia (if ever a book found its audience…) and he quotes Christa Wolf to the effect that after German reunification, she felt exiled from a country that no longer existed. I wonder if we would see ‘nordnostalgie’ after the death of the province? And maybe not just among unionists?

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