jump to navigation

National identit(ies) December 29, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
trackback

I’ve a lot of sympathy with Rosemary Jenkinson, the author, in this article in relation to how she feels having a Protestant, British and indeed Irish identity (and by the way she makes some excellent points I think re how certain dynamics in education pushed, understandably so, young Unionist/Protestant people in Northern Ireland to England and Scotland from the North).

I come at this from a different direction. Born in London, one English parent, growing up in Dublin in the 70s and 80s. I had an odd somewhat English accent, so West Brit occasionally came my way as a jibe,as did ‘posh’ but not too frequently. That didn’t bother me too much (though one Protestant from the South in comments notes how his childhood could be pretty miserable for not dissimilar jibes).

But Jenkinson’s sense of multiple identities is very familiar to me. Irish, yep, English, ish – to an extent, not British for me, Protestant and Catholic, well a direct experience of both in my immediate family was certainly positive for me (and politically immediate family were active in the BLP in the UK and others formerly in SF in the Republic so that was pretty mixed too – though less so). But then unionism right into the 20th century never wrestled with Irishness in quite the way Ulster Unionism did later. For Carson et al it was a given that they were Irish and British.

I wonder was it that localisation into Ulster that both accentuated a non-Irish aspect to it and exaggerated a sort of British (or was it English) aspect? That somehow Ulster could be seen as a place apart in relation to Irishness and Britishness that the rest of Ireland couldn’t be?

Comments»

1. benmadigan - December 29, 2017

“Ulster could be seen as a place apart in relation to Irishness and Britishness that the rest of Ireland couldn’t be”

Northern Ireland became a place apart due to monolithic one-party Unionist rule, the pervasive influence of the Orange Order in most walks of life, particularly employment, and a militarized, political police force i.e the B Specials

These 3 elements were not found in such tight symbiosis elsewhere in the UK or the republic of ireland.

NI couldn’t have been anything but a place apart

Liked by 1 person

Joe - December 29, 2017

I think you have to go further back. Northern Ireland became and has been a place apart since the plantation of Ulster in the seventeenth century. It is “a place apart” from the rest of Ireland and, also indeed, from the rest of the UK, because the descendants of the planters formed a distinct community/national identity both from the rest of Ireland and the rest of the UK.

They exist, they’re different from us and from other parts of the UK. They are “a people and a place apart”. There is nothing per se wrong with that. Depending on where you are looking from, it could be said that the RoI is a place apart or Scotland is a place apart. Or wherever.

There is of course plenty wrong with how Northern Ireland was governed – the denial of civil rights to the nationalist minority and all that.

But whatever national or political structures emerge in the future – a united Ireland, joint authority, NI as an integral part of the UK, whatever – Northern Ireland, the north eastern six counties of this island, will remain a place apart.

Like

WorldbyStorm - December 29, 2017

Agree entirely but with one caveat – there are people there who preceded the Plantation and remain there and their rights are equal to those of unionists, not greater and not lesser. That’s the conundrum and the issue that whatever happens has to address, that while Ulster is distinct from it is simultaneously the same as the rest of Ireland.

Like

Joe - December 29, 2017

That’s not a caveat, that’s an addendum! Broadly agree with you.

Liked by 1 person

EWI - December 30, 2017

I think you have to go further back. Northern Ireland became and has been a place apart since the plantation of Ulster in the seventeenth century. It is “a place apart” from the rest of Ireland

Funny, then, that this doesn’t at all hold in Donegal, Cavan or Monaghan.

Liked by 1 person

6to5against - December 30, 2017

I’m not sure it doesn’t. Talking to people raised in Cavan in the 30s and 40s their experience of a protestant- catholic divide seems very similar to those experienced across the border.
Similar but not the same of course: the divisions were all amplified and codified by the Northern state and the Unionist hegemony. But the root issues go back farther and existed far outside the 6 counties.

Like

EWI - January 2, 2018

But there’s clearly never been the existence or need for a Protestant ‘civil rights movement’ in the twenty-six counties, including the three arbitrarily (it ought to have been five, if going by majorities) excluded from the Third Home Rule Bill, the concession and betrayal by Redmond which resulted in where we are today.

Like

EWI - January 2, 2018

Should be:

‘including the six arbitrarily (it ought to have been just four, if going by simple majorities as claimed) excluded from the Third Home Rule Bill’

Like

2. CL - December 29, 2017

‘there has long been a passive endorsement of partition by Catholics, who think like Maurice Hayes did; that you are better making things work and getting on with other communities than causing disruption in the name of your identity….
These people changed their minds before and decided to muck in. They can change again if they find that their rising expectation of being more at home here is flouted. They can alter course, can withdraw a support they might feel they never got much thanks for anyway. And they would make a huge difference now that unionism is a minority position, too.”
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/news-analysis/there-are-unionists-who-are-blithely-content-that-the-union-is-safe-in-their-hands-it-isnt-its-secure-because-of-men-like-maurice-hayes-36442282.html

Like

3. Jemmyhope - December 29, 2017

The terms Ulster and Northern Ireland are being bandied about here as if they are coterminous. The 6 Counties became a place apart when partition was introduced under British Imperialism and the colony of Ireland was broken into 2 neo-colonial entities to serve British Interests and their ascendancy in Ireland. Were there differences in Ireland before 1920? Of course there were, the Pale was a place apart at one time, so was Connaught when Cromwell was supreme. The Ulster Unionists did not want Home Rule for Ireland or any part of Ireland and yet they agreed to abandon their fellow religious in 3 Ulster Counties in order to have a permanent majority in the 6 counties. Were those 3 Ulster Counties a part of the ‘place apart’ before that? Two of the 6 counties Fermanagh and Tyrone had Catholic/Nationalist majorities at the time of partition. Were they part of the ‘place apart’ before that?
What about 1798 and the strength of the United Irishmen in Ulster.
A few lines from a letter written by James Burns a Presbyterian small farmer and weaver from County Armagh to his emigrant son in Pennsylvania in 1796 might give us a clue to this place apart. “We should all wish to be out of this countrie as every year oppression is growing greater.” “We are looking every day for an invasion from France and the most part of Ireland are Uniting together under the name of United Irishmen and are striving for Liberty.” The oppressors that James Burns refers to were the Anglican Ascendancy, founders of the Orange Order with the connivance of the British Government. Many Presbyterians and indeed Anglicans made common cause with their fellow Catholic countrymen at this time.
Revisionist historians are fond of telling us that Irish History should not be read backwards from 1916 as the inevitable progress of Irish Nationalism. If that same caveat is applied to Ulster Protestants we should beware of assuming that the virtually unanimous and militant Unionism that emerged in the late 1800s and early 1900s was a natural or inevitable development after 1798 and the Act of Union in 1800. The two traditions thesis may indeed be less a cause than a consequence of partition.

Like

WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2017

Fair points, when I mention localisation into Ulster I mean the political Ulster of the six counties that occurred with partition (and I feel that Joe Lee got it right when he noted that if what Unionism there believed was true of the Free State and an independent(ish) Ireland and the fate of unionists there then surely the acceptance of the removal of Unionists and Loyalists in the other three counties of Ulster that remained in the FS was one of the greatest betrayals in history – or words to that effect). But there is a danger I completely agree in thinking NI = Ulster or that unionism is a single monolith that is unchanging across history or that Protestant must of necessity = Unionist.

Like

WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2017

And just to say again that even if every Unionist believes Ulster is a place apart and that is the end of matters the simple reality of Nationalists and Republicans being in Ulster and not believing that to be the case (or alternatively believing that even if there’s an element of some truth in that it doesn’t make them or Ulster less Irish from their perspective) means that Ulster is different and that equals Ulster is Unionist is a simplification too far. As you say differences exist and persist in many respects. How we frame shape and accommodate them becomes the key issue. But it surely won’t work by diminishing Nationalists/Republicans identity and right to that identity and to express that identity in both parts of this island.

Like

4. Joe - December 30, 2017

Lads, lads. Rosemary Jenkinson exists, Arlene Foster exists. The fans of ‘our wee country’ from Castlederg and Forkhill and all those other places, they all exist. They all exist and they’re different from us. The north is different, end of.

Like

5. yourcousin - December 30, 2017

Joe,
That’s fine that they exist but you seem to want to give them a veto on any progress. And you lump Miss Jenkinson and Foster together as if they are one and the same simply by dent of being Ulster prods. And I may be putting words into your mouth so correct me if I’m wrong but I’m trying to act in good faith so bear with me…

You seem to think that before Jenkinson can agree to a UI that the Fosters of NI must be won over. I call bullshit. For all the talk of the fabled toughness of the Ulster Scotch they are in your arguments, quite a sensitive bunch. They are entitled to their beliefs and should not be pigeonholed, but once they make their decision let them be. If they were man enough to go over the top at the Somme into my family’s machine guns then they’re adult enough to argue a case for British Monarchism in the 21st century.

Like

WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2017

I think that’s about right YC.

To say the north is different is both true in some senses but unuseful if one is ignoring that for many nationalists and republicans it is also a part of Ireland as a whole and no more different than Cork is from Dublin (and Cork is different from Dublin). Arlene Foster isn’t ‘the north’ end of any more than Gerry Adams is. They’re both the north and both are linked in different ways to the broader part of the island as well as one being linked to Britain more clearly. And I think there is a danger that we slip into a discourse where we accord more ‘rights’ to Foster than to Northern nationalists – they both have rights. And part of that is something that Foster et al have been doing their best in recent weeks and months to do down which is the right of Irish nationalists and republicans in all parts of the island to articulate the wish for a UI. The irony of Foster who heads up a party that places its political vision in its very name is inescapable.

Finally, the GFA/BA wouldn’t have come about if we had allowed hard-liners or even medium hard liners a veto on the Unionist or Loyalist side (or indeed RSF a veto!). So we can proceed without bringing everyone with us. All that is needed is to bring sufficient. Hence nationalists and republicans were willing to acquiesce to a situation where an UI wasn’t achieved but there were sufficient means to lead to one in a much longer term. Hence unionists were willing to acquiesce to a situation where the union was through cross-border bodies etc actually weakened because they felt other aspects made their position more secure. Some people never accepted that dispensation, some who said they did didn’t, some who accepted then want to weaken it now. But that history demonstrates that if there is sufficient buy in – not total, not universal, then a critical mass can swing behind things they find challenging and so on.

Like

6. makedoanmend - December 30, 2017

I was in Munster one time and it was a place apart as far as I could tell. They had different accents, different sentence constructions and some even spoke a foreign language. Many had different viewpoints, and I once heard opined in one city that they should leave the Dublin government or alternatively become the capital of all Ireland. (I think the leaving part was just a negotiating tactic as then their fall back position would be realised.)

There were many similarities as well.

Liked by 1 person

7. Brian Hanley - December 30, 2017

This is what Fr. Michael O’Flanagan, soon to be vice-president of Sinn Féin thought in 1916. He may have been wrong but the fact is some republicans did think that the parts of Ulster where protestants were a majority were a place apart, even then.

‘Geography has worked hard to make one nation out of Ireland, history has worked against it. The island of Ireland and the national unit of Ireland simply do not coincide. In the last analysis the test of separate nationality is the wish of the people.’

‘After three hundred years England has begun to despair of being able to compel us to love her by force. And so we are anxious to start where England left off and we are going to compel Antrim and Down to love us by force.’

And O’Flanagan also made the point that observers in Europe and the United States thought nothing of the proposed partition of Ireland as ‘national and geographic boundaries scarcely ever coincide.’

We are not going to solve this here but we should think about what a united Ireland, involving a complete British military and political withdrawal would have looked like in 1921; at least 25% of the new state’s population would have been unionists. De Valera told that the Dáil that he was in favour of giving each county the right to opt out of an independent state- how would that have worked out?

Like

WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2017

I’ve often wondered about that suggestions of his. Was he doing that in any expectation it would be taken up or if it was that the state there would be viable.

Like

Brian Hanley - December 30, 2017

I honestly don’t know, because I doubt he believed that Antrim, Down, Armagh and Derry should be allowed secede and in public speeches between 1917-21 he often seemed to suggest that the unionists could ‘like it or lump it.’ But my point is republicans did have different views then and often ones that seem odd today. Patrick McCartan loaning his car to the UVF to assist in the Larne gunrunning and Roger Casement boasting about that to audiences in America for example.

Like

EWI - January 1, 2018

De Valera told that the Dáil that he was in favour of giving each county the right to opt out of an independent state- how would that have worked out?

In that case you’re looking at a four-county ‘Ulster’, with Derry city and Newry probably claiming the right to secede as well.

Like

8. Fergal - December 30, 2017

Identity, identity they’ve all got a dent tea tee! Identity unites but simultaneously excludes. I am X, means I’m a part of all the Xs but also that I’m not a part of the Ys, Ws or As.
I genuinely don’t know or really care what it means to be Irish- I think talking a lot must be a key part of it. Above Brian Hanley- good historian that he is refers to two famous Irish leaders. Dev’s idea of an opt-out for individual counties and Flanagan’s idea of Ulster being ‘a place apart’. Yet both claim to be Irish- Irish nationalists even. There’s a fluidity there that’s attractive. So, being Irish includes people who are two-nationist, republicans, nationalists, unionist, indifferent to the ‘national question’, virulent united Irelanders, those hostile to a united Ireland etc.
Unionism doesn’t seem to have this fluidity, does it? Why not? Is unionism not just fixed in stone but in corrugated iron concrete? Why is this? I don’t like a doctrine that never changes. I dislike all dogmas. Fluidity and pluralism are much more attractive and in line with people’s experiences.
A detour that bings us back to …class. Fed up with hearing about what divides us?Let’s focus on what unites us…class.

Liked by 1 person

EWI - January 1, 2018

Unionism doesn’t seem to have this fluidity, does it? Why not? Is unionism not just fixed in stone but in corrugated iron concrete? Why is this? I don’t like a doctrine that never changes.

Because it’s really not at all a doctrine, just a simple tribal need – supremacy over the ‘other ones’.

Like

9. FergusD - December 30, 2017

Are people arguing that NI unionists are a nation apart? Only a small minority of them do that. They argue they are British don’t they? Which makes it a colonial construct. You could argue so what, but looking at other colonial situations it has been widely accepted that even long established colonial settlers don’t have a right to a territory of their own post-independence e.g. Afrikaaners in SA, who have been there about as long as the Ulster Plantation. So why are NI “unionists” given that right?

Liked by 1 person

CL - December 30, 2017

U.S.A, with a number of its presidents descended from settlers from Ulster?

Like

Colm B - December 30, 2017

I am in favour of a united Ireland because IMO it is probably the most favourable territorial structure for a radical transformation of society and it will inevitably deal a massive blow to the British ruling class by contributing to the end of the UK as a state.
But everyone who believes in a UI is faced with the same problem – what solution short of civil war/ethnic cleansing to the fact that a substantial group of people in the north are likely to oppose it. It doesn’t matter what you think of them or their history or culture, you still have to consider ways they can be won over or accommodated to/in a UI.
And one answer that just won’t cut the mustard is ‘they’ll have to lump it or leave it’ because that is a recipe for massive communal violence.
I say this as someone who has no illusions about the political culture of unionism, dominated by opportunistic right wing charlatans of the DUP and drug-dealing racist paramilitaries. But facts is facts and the unionist population is not going to disappear even if they become minority in the north.
I’m not making an argument for a veto, just want to hear possible roads to UI, based on democratic and left wing principles, that will include this community.

Like

WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2017

Completely agree – and that’s one reason that the current approach of giving both communities rights etc and the right to articulate their positions seems so crucial. And in small ways I think the last twenty years haven’t been that bad in terms of at least calming the situation down.

I think that unfortunately only demographic change points to a clear way towards a UI but my own belief is that long before that it is necessary for new structures to be agreed to the greatest possible extent both within NI and the island as a whole both north south but also residually east west in terms of allowing connections that exist to persist (and this is where Brexit becomes a real pain because it cuts directly across the potential for those to be placed within a larger non ROI/UK context).

That suggests to me that a UI of the future would be quite different from a traditional UI with overlapping sovereignt(ies) and competancies and would require an acceptance that formal unionist representation in London and some inventive forms of sovereignty allowing for them would be necessary perhaps in perpetuity.

Like

benmadigan - December 30, 2017

the only arguments the Unionists in NI seem to have in favour of the Union are 1) the ROI can’t afford to keep us and 2) If they make the attempt they can expect violence and civil war.

Isn’t it time their bluff was called?

Like

WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2017

One could do that, but who would do it – no conceivable ROI government and if not them then who would have the authority or legitimacy? And their (unionists) additional argument would be that they’re unionists, that it is part and parcel of them, and that they don’t need to justify that to others.

It’s not that I disagree that there’s on occasions far too much leeway given in regard to unionism – but there are solid reasons as Colm B notes, not to feel confident that an ‘our way or the highway’ approach would be anything other than problematic and counterproductive. And there’s a different point I’d make. There’s no reason to emulate the way unionism treated nationalism and republicanism during and after Stormont. That was wrong and self-evidently counter-productive.

Like

yourcousin - December 31, 2017

The problem with futuring and assumptions is that it’s very easy to go down rabbit holes. I doubt very much whether unionists give two shits about Scotland having an outsized say in maintaining unionist rights, especially if they keep pushing for independence. I mean all these things are plausible because if you had asked me ten years ago about the SNP being in power and Brexit I would have said, well maybe, but not really something you could forecast like a poll for an upcoming election.

Unionism ought to be defeated because it swears fealty to an outdated aberration of governance (monarchy). But in reality unionists should be respected and should be approached on an case by case basis of policies. If their positions are reasonable and progressive then work together and dare I say even support them. When they are not they should be challenged and hopefully defeated. Based on policy, not identity. It does no good to treat them like a monolithic bloc nor to do mental/rhetorical gymnastics as if some magic combination will get them to say, “now that’s the program (Eire Nua anyone)?I’ve been waiting for, where’s the nearest polling station where I can cast my vote for a UI”.

Many of the things shaking up the north (SNP and Brexit) came from well outside and could not be predicted. Something as large as a UI in in whatever form it may occur cannot be formulated out (at least in road map format). The no veto on progress should be applied to things like parity within NI. And the reality is that those small actions will cause outsized waves (holding individuals responsible for bonfire damage etc.) but should go hand in hand to basic good governance.

I’ll end here because I feel this is getting preachy which is not my intent. But treat folks as individuals on a spectrum, not a monolith, agree to disagree where appropriate while maintaining civility, focus on good competent governance, and know that the big ticket items will come along whether folks like it or not. It’s not going to be solved by a battle royale alone, more like Kennan’s battle of systems.

Like

EWI - January 2, 2018

The Scots (at least Labour and the SNP) will want nothing whatsoever to do with their toxic cousins in NI.

Like

rockroots - December 31, 2017

I’ve mentioned in private to WBS that I’m researching Irish Unionism in the midlands between the 1880s and independence. What’s coming across is a crisis of identity even during that time. Intransigence and defiance in the 1890s turns into desperation and resignation by 1912 when it became apparent that Ulster’s Protestants were willing to abandon their southern cousins to Home Rule. There are speeches disbelieving that Carson would desert his fellow-Leinstermen. Their public pronouncements insist that they are as patriotic as any other Irishmen, they just differ about the best way the country should be governed.

It’s interesting to me how southern Protestants have moved from a UK loyalty to a ROI loyalty in the space of two or three generations. My grandfather, for example, strongly objected to his kids being obliged to learn Irish in school when it ‘wasn’t part of their heritage’, but no southern Protestants I know would today consider themselves anything other than Irish.

As pointed out though, it’s a qualified Irishness – Irish but not entirely Irish. Regardless of how religious the population of the Republic is today, it’s still culturally heavily Catholic, to the extent that you’re frequently – if unintentionally – made aware of it if you don’t share that culture. Whether it’s jokes about first communion money, or receiving mass cards at a bereavement, or the ‘national’ sports being organised according to Catholic parishes, you’re never very far from being reminded what the identity of this state and it’s population is assumed to be.

And that’s to say nothing of the education system being segregated according to religion.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - December 31, 2017

That’s very true re ‘assumptions’. That can be kind of abrasive sometimes I find – the idea there’s a single monolithic ‘Irishness’ rather than many each with equal validity. And of course there’s the reality that actual religious observance has crashed completely – which I guess proves the enduring aspect of ‘culture’ over ritual.

Like

FergusD - December 31, 2017

Colm, I agree, despite my view stated above. But I think there has to be some sort of challenge to the unionist position. I would think that the nature of the current, and past, RoI has considerable influence as well. Something radically different has to be offered. The bulk of unionists may be on the right but what would be the point of a conservative UI?

Like

rockroots - December 31, 2017

This, I think could be a key issue. With the Republic out-manoeuvring (considerably) the North on issues like marriage equality and – perhaps – abortion, I wonder could a future young generation from a Unionist background become tired of the ultra-conservative leadership on offer, and thus reassess what identity is in their own best interests. I think that’s more plausible than current Unionists jumping ship because of Brexit or economic factors.

Liked by 1 person

Joe - January 1, 2018

“and thus reassess what identity is in their own best interests.”
I wonder has anyone on here ever reassessed what identity is in their own best interests? You know, have you ever thought that maybe because the RoI was a reactionary, RC-dominated, anti-woman, anti-worker shithole for most of its existence, that maybe you should swap your Irish identity for e.g. a republican French one? No? Thought not.
It’s like suggesting that some Croats might decide to swap their identity and become Serbs.
It ain’t gonna happen. Ever.

Like

EWI - January 1, 2018

It ain’t gonna happen. Ever.

And yet it did, in the twenty-six counties.

Like

WorldbyStorm - January 1, 2018

It’s not quite like and like but I am dubious about never ever arguments. When one thinks of the manner in which unionism jettisoned their compatriots in three counties of Ulster one has to wonder about what they perceive in regard to their own identity. I’m also dubious about arguments that assume some aspects are near enough intrinsic – we know many unionists who prefer to live in Britain because of their feelings about NI, others like some in Alliance who are willing to countenance a UI or other non U.K. forms, and I have myself known unionists who became Irish nationalists. And of course many here looked precisely at the ROI and said ‘not good enough’ and wanted a genuine left successor. But in fairness these are huge challenges – none are easy and it’s difficult to see particularly with Brexit how this pans out. On the other hand unionism has constructed a trap in regard to framing this as ‘democratic’ given demographic shifts. Who was it who said unionism has to start reaching to those who will be willing not to go to a UI or at least are willing to engage with various forms short of or only partly in that line. So far I see no evidence that unionism is preparing itself politically or otherwise for that.

Like

rockroots - January 1, 2018

“It’s like suggesting that some Croats might decide to swap their identity and become Serbs.
It ain’t gonna happen. Ever.”

No, nobody politically active now is going to change their identity – I’m talking about a younger generation, today’s kids, who might feel they have more in common with a secular and progressive ROI (still some way off, admittedly) than with the reactionary puritanism of their parents. As I said, southern Protestants have moved from Unionist to broadly Nationalist beliefs within a few generations, and a hundred-odd years ago a generation of Irish chose Republicanism over their parents’ Constitutionalism.

Liked by 1 person

Joe - January 2, 2018

My bet would be that they would go for a liberal unionism rather than change their ‘identity’ and throw in their lot with Irish nationalism.

Like

WorldbyStorm - January 2, 2018

That’s a fair point and I wouldn’t disagree – but look at what liberal unionism means – Hermon is a perfect example, fully behind the BA/GFA and all institutions therein, etc including the scope for extending all island ones. So liberal unionism is a most intriguing position in and of itself and one which doesn’t have to be in antagonism with a deeper relationship between the parts of this island. And look at Alliance and how that has moved as an effectively unionist party to an avowedly liberal unionist party to position of greater neutrality in respect to the issue. So clearly some people as unionists can make that journey.

And in fairness to unionists even there there was a bare majority in favour of the GFA/BA etc with all that came with it. So perhaps unionism as a political identity isn’t fixed in quite the way is sometimes proposed but is flexible and able and in a way willing to embrace an all-island identity or trans-island identity that the DUP seem very averse to acknowledge.

Like

EWI - January 2, 2018

My bet would be that they would go for a liberal unionism rather than change their ‘identity’ and throw in their lot with Irish nationalism.

‘Never, ever gonna happen’. Look at what happened in the twenty-six counties. Once the supremacist position was no longer tenable, the younger generations got with the republican program and eventually threw in with the rest of us.

Like

Joe - January 2, 2018

I think it’s worth going back to the ‘like it or lump it’ approach that was mentioned somewhere on this thread.
With the foundation of the Free State, southern unionists were effectively left with a ‘like it or lump it’ choice. Some chose to lump it by getting out, emigrating, many to the north. Others chose to stay and over time got to ‘like it’ in as much as any of us can like a shithole. Part of the dynamic here was that they were too small and dispersed a minority to do much else.
With the establishment of Northern Ireland, the Irish nationalist minority there were also given effectively a ‘like it or lump it’ option. But they chose not to like it (understandably – what was to like, from their point of view?) and eventually we ended up with the 30 year conflict and where we are now.
So, inannyway, it is my opinion that, if ever there was to be a United Ireland and the unionists of the six counties were given a ‘like it or lump it’ option…it is my opinion that they would make a similar choice as that made by the Irish nationalist minority in Northern Ireland – they would choose not to like it and would resist it, most probably violently, and we’d have ethnic cleansing and other nasty stuff – from both sides.
I wouldn’t be up for that kind of thing at all at all, personally myself, so I’d probably finally get the funk out of this shithole and leave it to the patriotic partisans of a UI to sort it out.
But thankfully, that’s all ifs and ands and pots and pans. And if if’s and and’s were pots and pans there’d be no CLR.

Like

EWI - January 2, 2018

There was clearly no ‘like it’ option considered, never mind presented, with NI. It was a Protestant supremacist state from the beginning. There is no comparison with the south that passes a laugh test here.

There will likewise be no ‘ethnic cleansing’, as we’ve convincingly had demonstrated by the Irish state since independence. So, how steadfast is your threat to leave Ireland, on let’s say the Eoghan Harris Scale?

Like

shea - January 2, 2018

what would be an end goal of unionist violence against a united Ireland state. it can be easier to unite in a defensive position than an offensive position. ‘leave things as they are’ is easier to project for a collective than an idealized future with each individual in the collective having a different interpretation of what ideal is and internal differences forming from that.

The talk about raising the bar to pass a border poll from this state and could probably only be implemented by the british state is a more worrying cause for a spark in the tinderbox.

Like

Joe - January 2, 2018

“So, how steadfast is your threat to leave Ireland, on let’s say the Eoghan Harris Scale?”

I’d hate for anyone to characterize my desire to wander far from these shores, in certain very unlikely circumstances, as a threat. More a commitment, a promise.
A threat would be phrased more like this maybe: “And before I go, I really hope I might get an opportunity to stick the loaf on my favourite online patriotic partisan. Maybe WBS will organise a CLR gathering to facilitate?” I’m sorry for saying that – I’m a peace-loving man and I try not to get into physical fights because I usually lose.
But look, there’s no need for any of us to get our knickers in a twist over any of this. It ain’t gonna happen. Not in my lifetime anyway. And sadly not in yours either, EWI.

Sign of hope: In fairness to our brothers and sisters up north – despite all the hoo haa and hot air over Brexit and related matters for the past while, there’s been no sign of any sectarian trouble or violence arising.

Like

WorldbyStorm - January 2, 2018

Again, much I’d agree with there Joe. It’s not going to happen as you say any time soon. Though our lifetimes? Well, the UK is on course to leave the EU, Scotland came remarkably close to independence a few years back. These would have ten or fifteen years ago seemed the stuff of madness.

Like

EWI - January 2, 2018

But look, there’s no need for any of us to get our knickers in a twist over any of this. It ain’t gonna happen. Not in my lifetime anyway. And sadly not in yours either, EWI.

Loath as I am to bring the topic up, I think I might have easily been the youngest person present at the CLR drinks (you’re all lovely people) that I went to, a while ago. And I’m very much looking forward, in my own lifetime, to the progressive dismantling of the weeping sore that is ‘Northern Ireland’.

As to ‘my favourite online patriotic partisan’, I think you’ve encountered a category error. Barring the invention of time-travel back to at least the Twenties, I wouldn’t feel at home in FF or anywhere else.

Like

10. roddy - December 30, 2017

The unionist majority only exists in 2 counties- Antrim and Down and even at that South Down is overwhelmingly Nationalist.

Liked by 1 person

Colm B - December 30, 2017

But Roddy even if they were a majority in no county, the issue remains the same – how to bring about a United Ireland without ethnic cleansing (which would effect both communities). Its not a question of majorities/minorities just of a particular ethno-religious minority that must have a path into a UI.

I don’t know the answer but for what its worth, here’s one possibility:

Scottish independence (and possibly consequent collapse of UK state) brings about reorientation of allegiances: some sort of agreement between Scotland and RoI brings about an all-Ireland federal solution that accommodates unionists with Scotland as ‘guarantor’ for unionists. Remember unionists have far closer historic/cultural links with Scotland than England. This points to WBS’s ‘inventive forms of sovereignty’ but without London playing any role.

BTW, contrary to the indo/Harris gang/FG propaganda, I think SF is seriously grappling with this issue because they know more than anyone that you cant force unionists into a UI.

Like

benmadigan - December 30, 2017

I am confident a newly independent Scotland will not want to deal with an influx of NI Unionist Loyalists. They will have enough of their own OO followers and supporters to deal with!

Like

EWI - January 1, 2018

how to bring about a United Ireland without ethnic cleansing (which would effect both communities).

Why? There was no ‘ethnic cleansing’ down here after independence (whatever Harris and his sycophants may claim).

Like

11. shea - December 31, 2017

Dublin used to have this.

It was a loyalist town probably into the early 19th century. Same features, exceptionalism, ultra Protestantism, patriotism (as seen from that position)

The orange order got banned over a contentious parade issue on dame st.

Dublin corporation had some sort of rotating power sharing arrangement for a while.

Some Dublin volunteer force rifles were found stashed in the basement of the GPO.

There are different irelands sharing the same island. The north may be a strong hold for this tendency but its an irish tendency, The COI, the Presbyterians and the Methodists are in an all ireland communion, sports, soccer is the only main sport partitioned and that was the clubs in the south that did that. The orange order comes under the command of the grand lodge of ireland.

unionism is irish unionism. We see the English scratching their heads at the DUP. Its made up of a belief of their own exceptionalism, ultra protestantism and patriotism. All been seen before.

Difference, yes while it is there, it can be over stated.

Like

WorldbyStorm - December 31, 2017

Interestingly there was a functioning Orange Lodge close to where I live in Dublin for a while after independence or so I’m told.

Like

shea - December 31, 2017

the conservative club on camden row used to be the protestant workmans club, interesting essay on it some of which covers post independence

Click to access The_Organisation_and_Activism_of_Dublin%27s_Protestant_Working_Class,_1883-1935.pdf

to look at unionism in the north as different in the way it is being portrayed is to imagine a year zero in the twentieth century or that partition always existed and is some how natural. it is different but it is the echo something else island wide and a lot longer.

Like

O'Connor Lysaght - December 31, 2017

To repeat myself somewhat. It should be recognised that a united independent Ireland (disregarding class for one moment) is opposed not just by the north-eastern Protestants but by the British. This means that it can be challenged only by an all-Irish movement and (back to class) one of working people.The trouble with our thirty years war was that both feuding Republican groups saw the problem as a six county one., over-estimating their support in the twenty-six cos. The Provos fought a military campaign of a political minority of a religious minority within the borders of the province. The sticks indulged in wishful thinking about winning a majority of the unionists to their side, ignoring the fact that they were offering two birds in their bush to people who were happy to believe they held two birds in their collective hand. At times (notably after Bloody Sunday), it looked as if something more effective could develop, but the two movements were set in their ways. For now the task is one of education.
I like to feel that this includes my wishing a happy and prosperous 2018 to all lounge lizards and to the working people of the world.

Liked by 1 person

EWI - January 1, 2018

The trouble with our thirty years war was that both feuding Republican groups saw the problem as a six county one., over-estimating their support in the twenty-six cos.

I would say something slightly different, in that they allowed the conflict to be successfully framed by the British as a ‘criminal’ problem rather than a revolutionary or political one. The revelation years later of just how successfully agents provocateurs were placed in their ranks to forment politically and morally suicidal policies shouldn’t have been a surprise; the very same thing happened in the late nineteenth century with the Fenians.

Like

WorldbyStorm - January 1, 2018

Still, it wasn’t just the British who framed it that way. The ROI did too. So the chances of it breaking out of that framework were very small. I’ve often wondered if a united Republican movement or one shorn of some of the more reactionary elements but still retaining more rather than less of the 1960s membership/supporters might not have fared better. But how would it have positioned itself post the abolition of Stormont? How and against who would armed struggle be directed and to what end? In a way what we saw were different routes taken trying to get around that conundrum, by the Officials, the IRSP and the Provisionals. None – frankly – was satisfactory. As O’CL rightly notes (and comradely thanks for your kind words btw) it wasn’t feasible to get unionism over to republicanism, but nor were military means feasible either – or not as the primary approach and once they became secondary or tertiary their utility was problematic too.

Like

EWI - January 1, 2018

Still, it wasn’t just the British who framed it that way. The ROI did too. So the chances of it breaking out of that framework were very small.

The fault here lies with the weak Lynch and O’Malley, who clearly double-crossed their FF ministerial colleagues with the Arms Trial and opened the field to FG/Lab to do as they liked. Blaney et al should have forced the issue – and de Valera should have done something.

But how would it have positioned itself post the abolition of Stormont? How and against who would armed struggle be directed and to what end? […] As O’CL rightly notes (and comradely thanks for your kind words btw) it wasn’t feasible to get unionism over to republicanism, but nor were military means feasible either – or not as the primary approach and once they became secondary or tertiary their utility was problematic too.

The initial military campaign was necessary and inevitable, in the face of British complicity with Unionist attacks and Lynch’s ultimate betrayal of Northern nationalists. There was no way that change or even talks would have occurred without removing the Unionist monopoly on violence from the table. After that, though…

We know that parts of the British establishment were anxious to break the subsequent PIRA ceasefire. we also now know that parts of the Provisional movement had been turned. Nevertheless, it would need better-informed people would know why, even with those in play, they didn’t decide to cash in that credibility for political progress (there is a long Irish republican tradition of only reverting to arms in the face of British force).

Like

ivorthorne - January 2, 2018

There were something like 10-15 Orange lodges operating in and around County Sligo at the turn of the 20th century. Apparently, 3 were still operating around 1920.

Like

EWI - January 1, 2018

unionism is irish unionism.

Correct. I’m still waiting on Joe to explain why Derry is magically so different to Donegal.

Like

Joe - January 1, 2018

It’s the fairies wot done it.

Like

EWI - January 1, 2018

Thanks.

Like

Joe - January 2, 2018

To expand. The fairies decreed that the small minority of unionists in Donegal would over generations become Irish nationalists with a small n. However they also decreed that the substantial unionist community in Derry would hold firm to their unionist identity. It’s a numbers thing.

Like

EWI - January 2, 2018

However they also decreed that the substantial unionist community in Derry would hold firm to their unionist identity. It’s a numbers thing.

Here I would agree with you – take away the traditional top dog status and replace with equality, and ‘unionism’ will die out.

Like

O'Connor Lysaght - January 2, 2018

But how? Two essentials in the process: the involvement of the 26 Co. majority and leadership of the majority of working people, north and south, for a specific workers’ republic.

Like

EWI - January 2, 2018

But how? Two essentials in the process: the involvement of the 26 Co. majority and leadership of the majority of working people, north and south, for a specific workers’ republic.

Chicken and the egg, Rayner? I think that eliminating the border will also get rid of a major obstacle to normal politics arriving.

Like

O'Connor Lysaght - January 3, 2018

Not chicken and egg (tho’ that, in itself implies an historical process. albeit an isolated one). Rather a combination of mass agitation in the 6 Cos. (whether v. the betrayal of the GFA or v. its limitations must be unclear causing not 6 Co. armed struggle, but anti-Brit imperial agitation and class mobilisation in the Republic. That will mean an all-Ireland counterforce to the British -unionist alliance and one in which the class composition makes up for its numerical weakness, as both a threat to the metropolis and more of an attraction than simple republicanism can be to sections of the Protestant working class.
I would hope some of our socialist groups/parties are preparing for such a scenario, but, at the moment, I am not too optimistic.

Like

12. CL - December 31, 2017

“The incoherent and jumbled mix of areas left over from the Ulster Plantation of the early 17th century has left two communities – then known as the planters and the Gaels, now as Protestants and Catholics – frozen in separate but parallel lives….
There has been a lack of governmental commitment to either integrated schools or integrated housing…
The peace agreement negotiated in 1998 took the two communal identities as fixed and immutable entities and built the political architecture on these two pillars….
the assumption being that these two identities will remain the organising categories for politics in the long term….
the 2011 census also showed that, for the first time, Protestants no longer made up the majority of the population, the new total having fallen to 48 per cent….
Brexit is now the threat to… stability”
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/two-tribes-a-divided-northern-ireland-1.3030921

Like

13. roddy - January 1, 2018

EWI, it would be a 2 county ulster. You are making the same mistake as many others that Derry City is “nationalist” while the county is not.My own South Derry elected the only council in Ireland with a SF overall majority.The East Derry constiuency can only elect a Unionist MP because it stretches into county Antrim and even at that is becoming a marginal.As far as Armagh goes ,South Armagh is overwhelmingly nationalist,a good swathe of Newry town is in Armagh and unionists only hold Upper Bann due to the addition of loyalist areas of County Down .

Like

EWI - January 1, 2018

EWI, it would be a 2 county ulster. You are making the same mistake as many others that Derry City is “nationalist” while the county is not.

Roddy, my apologies. I was referring to the situation in the early 1920s.

Like

14. CL - January 2, 2018

‘Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that still bans same-sex couples from marrying, as the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party has employed peace process powers to block equal marriage bills in the region. ….
Sinn Fein has demanded assurances on equal marriage as part of a settlement before power-sharing can resume, but DUP officials insist they will never cave in to the demand.’
http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/01/01/gay-people-treated-as-second-class-citizens-in-northern-ireland-sinn-fein-leader-says/

Like

WorldbyStorm - January 2, 2018

Which as has been stated before is a most interesting insight into what the ‘union’ means for the DUP.

Like

CL - January 2, 2018

And if there’s no resumption of power sharing what happens?
Will the DUP accept a role for Dublin, even one of ‘consultation’?
“Mr Varadkar said he followed the idea of former SDLP leader John Hume of an “agreed Ireland”.
He said: “In terms of a United Ireland, our constitution is clear on this. Our constitution aspires to there being a United Ireland. I share that aspiration.”
https://www.irishnews.com/news/republicofirelandnews/2018/01/02/news/varadkar-i-aspire-to-united-island-and-hume-s-agreed-ireland–1223131/

Like

CL - January 2, 2018

‘ Paul Bew, emeritus professor of politics at Queen’s University Belfast and cross-bench peer in the British House of Lords, said that Varadkar’s insistence on the need for consent and cross-community support had brought a new, more conciliatory tone to the debate.
“It’s not actually provocative, it’s meant to be the opposite,” Bew said. “What he’s doing here is trying to pull back from the irritation he has caused in the unionist community by the stance he took over the past several weeks … this is an attempt to conciliate.”
Building support for Irish unity across both Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland is “a 50-year project,” Bew said. Varadkar’s remarks are “a way of saying … we don’t want unity any time soon.”
http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/02/europe/varadkar-united-ireland-intl/index.html

Like

15. ID-fluid republican unionist - January 2, 2018

So what (some of) you are (possibly) saying is that Northern identities both need a good queering. I’ll buy that.

Perhaps the younger generation(s) will achieve that.

Like

16. ivorthorne - January 2, 2018

I think that one of the difficulties we’ll have to overcome before we can have Irish unity is dealing with the fact that the unionist/loyalist tradition has relatively little that we can appreciate.

Unionism seems to me to value imperialism above all else. The historical figures it tends to venerate are those who were oppressors. Tolerating unionism is easy. Finding common ground with it is not so easy.

What are the shared values between the Irish/nationalist/republican tradition and unionism?

Like

shea - January 2, 2018

members of the legion of mary and atheist ireland are under no obligation to appreciate each other, like each other, anything really. just respect the law.

Like

ivorthorne - January 2, 2018

Yes, but that is just tolerance. The regretable aspect of the GFA is that it seems to formalise the traditional divisions. This may have been and may continue to be necessary but ideally, we would hope that we could find common ground – a shared identity.

Within the 26 counties post-independence, unionists – to a certain extent – just lost that element of their identity post-independence. I can’t ever see that happening in the North if we achieve unity. The geographical concentration in the North East alone makes it improbable.

The most obvious candidate for a basis of common identity would be as Europeans. But unionism has never really liked that concept much.

Liked by 1 person

EWI - January 2, 2018

The most obvious candidate for a basis of common identity would be as Europeans. But unionism has never really liked that concept much.

And for much the same reason that fascist parties hate it.

Like

shea - January 3, 2018

it would be nice, shared identity comes out of experience. I can’t think of any example of the state ‘demanding love’ of that community in its early days. Would it be fair to say that it happened bottom up Unionists in the south giving out about the government like everyone else or what ever. Or did the state stay off their backs. Good thinks happened in time.

the constitution this state is under and i hope any future one would be the same in this regard gauruntees freedom of conscious. if someone born in wicklow today to an old unionist family grows up and identifies as british and all that it might be felt as a snub to those around him but nothing that should be punished for or is. Personally think the best way to create a collective identity is to be ok with difference. if people are on board, yay if not, its ok as long as nobody gets shot.

Like

WorldbyStorm - January 3, 2018

+1 shea

Like

17. GW - January 3, 2018

Isn’t the point here that some identities in a colonial and imperial historical context are build on domination. I’m happy to welcome a unionist identity that is shorn of this element, if that were possible.

However the current situation in NI, with effective direct rule from Britain by a government disproportionately dominated by the DUP, means that the dominant position of unionism continues in the province. The fact that the DUP are pushing through a major political change against the wishes of the majority of the citizens in NI is an illustration of this continuing hierarchical power relation.

Roll on the day when a genuine parity of power and esteem applies there.

Like

18. CL - January 3, 2018

“England’s premier radical bookshop has began selling tea towels with a forthright anti-DUP slogan…
Housmans recently announced on Twitter that it was now stocking tea towels with the message: ‘F*** the DUP’.”
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/f-the-dup-tea-towels-on-sale-at-english-bookshop-36403695.html

Like

Starkadder - January 3, 2018

Good old Housmans. The towels are so popular they’ve sold
out! 🙂

http://www.housmans.com/blog/

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - January 3, 2018

An interesting turn of events. It does raise intriguing questions too – for the DUP as well.

Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: