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In our DNA? July 31, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This really annoys me, Micheál Martin quoted as saying ‘In an interview a year ago, he cautioned against the temptation to get “one over” on the British saying “from Houghton’s goal on, it’s natural, it’s instinctive, it’s in our DNA”. 

Really? Does he think so little of the people of this island or state? It certainly isn’t characteristic of the interactions of the current government on the issue of Brexit. And it seems to me to be of a piece with a certain cultural cringe that some possess – an over sensitivity not to what is said but to what is not said but which they seem to assume is on the brink of being said or being thought.

But let’s consider by contrast what is being said by some British about the people and representatives of this state.

Indeed the whole thing reminds me of Arlene Foster’s complaint today that the Irish government should ‘dial down the rhetoric’. We’ve just endured a weeks long campaign by various Tory leaders whose rhetoric was so egregious in the attitudes and lack of knowledge on display in regard to Ireland and the backstop and so on that it bears no comparison to the rather measured words emanating from Dublin. And indeed the rhetoric from the new incumbent in Number 10 has hardly been conspicuous by its measured tones either.

Or what about this late addition from Bruce Arnold?

“This is tough right now, being a proud and loyal British subject who has lived in, and loved, Ireland for more than 60 years,” he wrote in the article, headlined “Bought by Brussels, little Ireland’s ridiculous leaders have landed it in a Brexit crisis”.

And:

“Yet again we face a crisis of democracy, with little Ireland and the huge EU refusing to recognise the democratic decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. The ridiculous country in which I live is helping Europe in this abuse.”

Lovely.

Comments»

1. An Sionnach Fionn - July 31, 2019

Little Ireland, Little Leo, etc. has endured two years of abuse from the UK and it’s apologists who are amazed at the temerity of an Irish government to respect the democractic mandate granted to it to protect the interests of the people it governs. And not to place British interests above our own. I just never thought a leader of Fianna Fáil would be numbered among the apologists.

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2. EWI - July 31, 2019

It says a lot about the sorry state of FF that the current leader has such a bad track record on our relationship and interests with respect to the UK. The urge to cap-doffing is strong in this one.

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3. Joe - August 1, 2019

Try not to get too annoyed. I agree with Micheál Martin. It is in our DNA. We love to get one over on the Brits and especially on the English. While Johnson was getting made PM, England were playing Ireland in the cricket. And early in the match, Ireland were doing quite well. And we would have loved to have beaten them.
We love to beat them. We love seeing others beat them. It’s in our DNA. (Maybe I should say it’s in mine anyway).
And it’s certainly in some of their DNA to look down on and patronise and dismiss Ireland and the Irish. That’s certainly in their ruling class’s DNA.

I don’t think that that thing in our DNA – about wanting to beat them and see them beaten, about liking to get one up on them or one over them – is influencing our government’s policy re Brexit and the backstop.
However, there is, I believe, how shall I put this – there is a longstanding and overriding policy/approach within the Dept of Foreign Affairs that seeks every opportunity to push forward inch by inch towards Irish reunification. That probably is, to some extent, influencing government policy re Brexit and the backstop.

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EWI - August 1, 2019

However, there is, I believe, how shall I put this – there is a longstanding and overriding policy/approach within the Dept of Foreign Affairs that seeks every opportunity to push forward inch by inch towards Irish reunification. That probably is, to some extent, influencing government policy re Brexit and the backstop.

Have you actually met any recent higher grades in the DFA? Committed Republicans looking for the ‘lost green field’ they are not (or if so, careful to keep it under their hat as a politically-incorrect career killer).

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An Sionnach Fionn - August 1, 2019

On the DFA I would take the opposite interpretation. The DFA has been holding the the north at the far end of a barge pole since 1922. There is very little evidence from any memoirs or the archives that civil servants in the DFA were anything but lukewarm on the idea of reunification. Even the big anti-partition push of the 1940s and ’50s was seen as an imposition from above, an onerous task that they took on but with no great enthusiasm. The likes of the Anglo-Irish Agreement and GFA may have been triumphs for Irish diplomacy but there were other concerns than a reunited Ireland driving Irish actions and policies.

When reunification comes about it will be in spite of the Irish government and the continuity state not because of it. We’re going to trip into a united Ireland not take a planned step into it.

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Joe - August 1, 2019

To EWI and ASF: Thanks both for your responses. I was ready to be asked for a source or two for my take on the DFA. The only one I can think of is the book by the son of the famous sculptor, the son who was a junior official in the DFA for a few years – the son who writes periodically in the likes of the Sindo and annoys a lot of people. He tells a story about a senior DFA official who was threatening to refuse to engage with De Rossa when De Rossa became a government minister – this threat being because of said mandarin’s perception that De Rossa was not safe on the national question. Other than that source, all I can say is I don’t have to justify my opinion cos it’s in my DNA, boom boom.

But ASF, I hope you are wrong (but I fear you might be right) when you say “We’re going to trip into a united Ireland not take a planned step into it.” That would be asking for trouble, big trouble.
I think there’s a consensus on here (is there?) that the RoI government should spell out what a UI will look like, in advance of any border poll. So that people voting for a UI would know what they were voting for – the constitutional arrangements, how the minority would be accommodated.
To me, that’s a process that the RoI government should embark on years before a Border Poll. Something like a New Ireland Forum or ideally the GFA talks and negotiations. Get as many views on board as possible and then come up with a proposal. Surely to God the government would have the cop on to take that approach rather than tripping into it.
Given the inexorable (?) demographic journey towards a nationalist majority in the north, the RoI government should probably be starting on that process in the next few years – anticipating a border poll with a possibility of a UI in say ten years time?

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6to5against - August 1, 2019

Well put, I suspect that if the details of their vision were to be laid out by all concerned, there would be many NI nationalists – never mind unionists – whose vision of the ‘nation’ would clash strongly with those further south.

For a border poll to be run before addressing those issues would be asking for the worst sort of trouble.

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WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2019

I’d take your line on this ASF. I’ve some familiarity with the history of the DFA and my sense is there’s no enthusiasm for unity and never has been. And indeed there was no ‘minister, official or dept at government or civil service level exclusively and specifically assigned to NI policy’ until 1970 when DEA established the Anglo-Irish Section. The next year the Interdepartmental Committee on NI was formed. So there was no interest and no means of shaping an NI policy within the civil service, let alone the DEA/DFA.

The situation since the GFA/BA has been a massive improvement, in so far as there’s an interest and energy about working the Agreement. But even that is limited and to a degree circumscribed by the political winds blowing in Dublin (and London). I really would be amazed if there was an attitude that went beyond the maintenance of the status quo ante. And frankly maintaining that status quo ante is good enough for me in the immediate. Political pressure should come from beyond. Though I do also agree there’s a pressing need to start outlining the shape of any future UI and what it will be and what it won’t.

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4. Daire O'Criodain - August 1, 2019

Having had more than a nodding acquaintance with the institution mentioned, I’d say to Joe to place a discount that source as a representative one. What An Sionnach Fionn says is fair enough. The only pushback I would offer is this. There hasn’t really been a moment since independence (even allowing for Churchill’s now or never) when a united Ireland was a “live” option. Very hard to go from zero to the big bang. German reunification is close but obviously an entirely different situation. What could be said is that the AI Agreement and the GFA have contributed to making the big bang more possible, if not, in the near term, a great deal more likely. And my guess is that, for the officials involved in both, that would have contributed to their motivation. I would also say, and this is true of the entire southern state, not just DFA (and nor should they deserve greater blame because we said we owned the fourth green field so it wasn’t really a DFA matter at all!) but southern interest in the circumstances of northern nationalists was minimal until the late 1960s.

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WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2019

That’s a great point too re going from zero to Big Bang. There’s been precious little interest at any level bar the rhetorical in a UI or even a united island which might be a radically different thing.

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