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No border poll here, apparently… October 23, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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So, no great surprise, but telling that Micheál Martin, a man one might think had more than enough issues to contend with, has decided to take time out of his schedule to announce that:

a border poll will not be on the Government’s agenda for the next five years Micheál Martin was speaking at an event in Dublin Castle to outline the policy priorities in the Government’s Shared Island initiative. A unit has been set up in the Taoiseach’s department which will oversee €500 million worth of investment in North-South infrastructure initiatives over the next five years.

And the IT frames it this way:

But the Taoiseach’s speech yesterday in tandem with an interview he gave to The Irish Times last month signal that, for him, increasing synergies and co-operation – while learning to share the island of Ireland with a separate sovereign entity in the North – is the end game rather than a means to an end. In his view, a united Ireland is still in there, but it’s a component rather than a priority.

Some might find it strange that in such a hugely volatile context of possibly independence for Scotland, the outworkings of Brexit and indeed the pandemic that this government of the Republic of Ireland would be so…well… supine. Clearly the ROI cannot initiate any such poll, but it is, some would think, absolutely vital for it to be engaging with the issue and preparing for such an eventuality.

And to be honest ‘learning to share the island of Ireland with a separate sovereign entity in the North’ seems to somewhat underplay the role the ROI has in respect of the GFA/BA, something that allows us not simply to ‘share’ the island but to maintain existing and develop greater links between the two and that goes well beyond syngergies and cooperation into shared and pooled sovereignty. And that too is part and parcel of the GFA/BA. And these links are something that like the GFA/BA point to unity as a destination.

Note too how the underlying assumption is that Northern Ireland is – well, unionist. But that may not be the case in voting terms in perpetuity, or even in the near medium term. Indeed as it stands NI is not ‘unionist’ any more than it is ‘republican’ but in different context. It is far from unthinkable that on foot of other developments there might within it appear a majority for unity or moves towards unity (not quite the same thing) across a lengthy period. How does a Fianna Fáil that has ruled out the only clear mechanism towards that end being ‘on its agenda’ deal with that?

Interesting straw in the wind too…

Senior TDs such as Jim O’Callaghan, Eamon Ó Cuív and Barry Cowen have all stressed that reunification should remain at the core. Also, Cowen, has suggested there should be a Border poll by 2028, the 30th anniversary of the agreement. But does Martin’s conscious distancing of himself from a united Ireland now constitute settled policy for Fianna Fáil?

If his main rivals are already putting clear water between his position and there’s perhaps that indicates they are more aware of the party he leads, even in its reduced circumstances, and the attitudes within it, as well as a further reality that Sinn Féin has positioned itself – as might be expected, on very different terrain indeed. Indeed the article notes that this would make FF less strong on unity than Fine Gael. How will that fly?
And can a leader who has seemed remarkably weak to date really position himself as the person who determines policy on the North for FF?

Does that not seem rather fanciful?

Comments»

1. EWI - October 23, 2020

1) will be interesting to see how the SDLP, FF’s supposed sister party in the North, answer questions on this one

2) someone really needs to ask this guy on camera about what role Eoghan Harris plays in his decisions

3) morto for UCC – a history graduate can’t answer a simple question on whether or not he thinks partition worked!

3) if democratic means of achieving reunification are being explicitly ruled out by Michéal Martin, then the IRA will have been right for the past hundred years in their view that ultimately only armed force will make progress towards undoing the British colonial apparatus

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WorldbyStorm - October 23, 2020

How on earth could anyone say partition worked. Or even fudge the answer. Partition brought instability on a massive scale across this island, delegitimised democratic votes and institutions, etc. Doesn’t mean that the end point had to be a traditional UI but it clearly did not work functionally. And he doesn’t have an answer to that? Sheesh.

Liked by 2 people

roastedsnow1 - October 23, 2020

Partition took away the new Irish State’s most industrialised region the NE. The British capitalists didn’t lose out though. But it did mean that the Southern State became dependent on agriculture in its formative years. It never really had a chance. Partition was madness for Ireland. It still is!

Liked by 1 person

2. irishelectionliterature - October 23, 2020

I’m all for a shared Island but you have to wonder if Sinn Féin pushing for a poll on Unity is pushing Martin in this direction.
What I don’t get is that it’s OK for Nationalists to live in a Unionist Statelet that they don’t agree with for over a Century. One that crushed their rights etc. as the Nationalists were in a minority.
Yet were they in a majority , Martin thinks that they should stay as they are.

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - October 23, 2020

That is a great point re your last one. So in a context where they are a majority they are meant to sit it out for… however long? That seems perverse.

Liked by 3 people

irishelectionliterature - October 23, 2020

Doesn’t it,

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6to5against - October 23, 2020

I can see the political logic in reaching out to unionists, and trying to find non- threatening language etc. But two things seem very wrong headed here.
Firstly, it’s surely a misreading of the GFA to suggest that it somehow delegitimised nationalism or moves to a UI. I would have thought the opposite: that it provided an agreed system wherein that can be discussed and either accepted or rejected.
And secondly, not unrelated to the above, what is the political logic of ceding republican ground to SF. Wouldn’t it make more sense to try to reclaim that heritage for FF?

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EWI - October 23, 2020

And secondly, not unrelated to the above, what is the political logic of ceding republican ground to SF. Wouldn’t it make more sense to try to reclaim that heritage for FF?

MM was educated in the UCC History Department in the eighties, which was a toxic bed of revisionism. Added to his British Army family background, and he’s (always been) an anti-Republican at core.

Liked by 2 people

Joe - October 23, 2020

I thought his da was a CIE busman not a British Army man? A CIE busman who publicly supported the Long Kesh hunger strikers iirc.

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WorldbyStorm - October 23, 2020

That’s it in a nutshell 6to5. There’s a lot of sense in reaching out to unionism, even reassuring it that whatever comes around the state sticks by the GFA/BA. But as you say that’s a complete misreading of the GFA/BA what MM is saying and bizarre to give up terrain to SF.

Unless… unless… Eoghan Harris has been an SF sleeper for many many decades now, slowly working within one party after another to destroy them and pave the way for SF.

There was OSF/WP. From the most successful further left party to only a few public reps left. The Ulster Unionists, proud flag-bearers of traditional unionism, now much reduced. John Bruton’s version of Fine Gael, in tatters, with the next generation talking about not leaving nationalists in the North behind. And now, the real prize, Fianna Fáil. For a decade ensuring that it would go from crisis to crisis, first in 2000s abandoning any interest in its traditional working class voters in favour of PDnomics. Then… and this was a stroke of brilliance, having seen to it that it lost half its base now wading in to see that it loses the rest of its more traditional but republican lite inclined other half of its base.

Presumably mission accomplished when SF is installed at the head of a coalition government. Perhaps then he’ll be able to announce publicly the great plan and take all the credit he richly deserves for his labours.

Liked by 1 person

EWI - October 24, 2020

Mr Martin’s paternal grandfather, John Martin, served in the British army in the first World War. He joined the Leinster Regiment in January 1915. He also served in the Durham Light Infantry and Royal Munster Fusiliers, though curiously he does not appear to have served overseas.

He married a war widow, Mary Kate Costello (née O’Leary), whose husband Joseph Costello was killed in action in France. She is Mr Martin’s grandmother.

[…]
The two oldest boys, Philip and Jackie, went to Britain and followed in the family tradition by joining the British army. They sent money back to Maura.

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/miche%C3%A1l-martin-s-family-history-from-old-ira-to-the-british-army-1.2079135

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3. Colm B - October 23, 2020

This is the laughable consequence of Harris’s buzzing in MM’s ear. FF who would traditionally have gained traction from Irish unity rhetoric now find themselves even less pro-unity than FG. It won’t gain any liberal middle class votes, the obvious market for anti-unity guff, and it will alienate traditional rural FF voters.
Regardless of your view of Irish unity, all this can only be good – it is the weird death dance of a once dominant organisation. We can only be thank EH for his part.

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - October 23, 2020

He’s something else. In a different context he once took me personally to task in a column of his in the newspaper and in deeply inaccurate ways (not least given I had interviewed him a couple of decades previously in respect of research I was doing). Entertainingly or not the Indo did not publish my response.

Liked by 1 person

Colm B - October 23, 2020

A denunciation from EH is badge of honour WBS.

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WorldbyStorm - October 23, 2020

I guess it is in a weird way. 🙂

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4. Pangurbán - October 23, 2020

It works be easier all around to defer the unity debate until after Scotland leaves. The slogan Ulster is British has no meaning when Britain has ceased to exist

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EWI - October 23, 2020

It works be easier all around to defer the unity debate until after Scotland leaves. The slogan Ulster is British has no meaning when Britain has ceased to exist

In the event of a general British collapse or general chaos, there is non-trivial danger of an attempt to ethnically cleanse all or large parts of the North and go for re-partition in order to preserve the euphemistic ‘Britishness’.

Better to have the orderly and agreed mechanism of the GFA work exactly as intended, and M.Martin can get lost.

Liked by 1 person

5. tafkaGW - October 23, 2020

Yea well – how long is the Mickey Martin show going to be a thing?

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roastedsnow1 - October 23, 2020

I can see him being replaced by the bould Stephen Donnelly and the mighty soldiers of destiny split. Depends how quick Leo completely undermines them and the Shinners rise in the polls. Just being optimistic.

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EWI - October 23, 2020

I can see him being replaced by the bould Stephen Donnelly and the mighty soldiers of destiny split.

Not going to ever happen. Donnelly is detested within FF, not least in Wicklow.

Maybe Ó Cuiv ends up as a compromise leader, just like Jack Lynch?

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sonofstan - October 23, 2020

I can see a time when leadership changes in FF will be as frequent and irrelevant as those in the LibDems

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6. roddy - October 23, 2020

Joe,I have it in the back of my ageing mind somewhere that Martin once asked to meet Adams when he was on a speaking engagement in Cork circa late 80s. He was never on my radar as being “unsound” on the national question until about a decade ago.I put this down to 2 things – SF becoming an electoral threat and the influence of Harris.

Liked by 1 person

Joe - October 24, 2020

Any man who is “unsound” on the national question can’t be all bad.

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yourcousin - October 24, 2020

Joe,
I am so glad you got your hands on the SDLP/FF party conference piece I tweeted a few weeks ago. I can really tell you’ve been doing your homework, good man!

😉

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Joe - October 25, 2020

In fairness (to me) yc, I’ve been of the opinion that any man who is “unsound” on the national question can’t be all bad for about the last 40 years or so.

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