Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Be Optimistic For Northern Ireland

I have just been listening to a ten minute discussion on the Jeremy Vine Show between a Sinn Fein politician called Caitriona Ruane and a DUP politician Arleen Foster. I have never heard anything like it and I hope it is a sign of things to come. Both women were friendly, polite and engaging - free of the old hostilties and displaying a real willingness to work together for the betterment of their country. It's time to be truly optimistic about Northern Ireland's future if these two women are anything to go by.


Anonymous said...

It has always been the women of Northern Ireland who have sought a way forward. The men on both sides have always been too involved with macho posturing to look for a solution.

Northern Ireland is a fantastic place - I have many relations there through my husband. The interesting thing is that when you talk to people, most of them are not that hung up on being British. Many of them don't even particularly like the English if you must know. And we are talking Protestants here. The younger ones especially don't have the entrenched views of the older people but even the older people know they have to move forward. I fully expect a united Ireland sometime in the future and I think they all know that it is moving towards that. The only ones with a vested interest in keeping things the way they are the thugs and petty criminals from the para-military organisations on both sides. All the right thinking people I know are longing for peace and prosperity.

Anonymous said...

When I think of killers like adams and mcguinness being in positions of power it makes me want to vomit.

Blair should have insisted that if sinn fein gets the votes they can be in power but not have as their leaders any of the known terrorists.

Incidentally, what will their security ratings be?

Surely we don't want to trust them with state intelligence.

Anonymous said...

noticed a similar thing last night on C4 news, outside Storment. ex-IRA Sinn Feiner standing right next to a DUP guy, being interviewed by Alex Thomson.

Even Thomson seem perplexed and even shocked at the situation.

i have to admit , my jaw dropped a few times yesterday. here's hoping it works out and is long lasting. the people of northern ireland desparately deserve it.

Little Black Sambo said...

It is based on lies and will not work. If Adams & co want it there must be something wrong.

Anonymous said...

I really do hope you are not wearing rose tinted specs. I agree that a united Ireland is not far away (Ulster is simply not viable), and if not soon, why not now? With the Scots getting their just deserts of independence (and paying their own way!) and floating Wales off, we could get on with rebuilding a prosperous future here in England.

Anonymous said...

Well, gordon-bennett, you will just have to choke on your bile as this is the very kind of entrenched attitude that has kept things from moving on. While I concur with your feelings about Messrs McGuiness and Adams we simply have to get past it. There is no choice.

Anonymous said...

Caitriona Ruane is laughably Sinn Fein’s ‘human rights’ spokesperson....
Iain - there is still a deep well of hatred towards the IRA in England. It maked me retch to think that we have basically pardoned a gang of thugs and psychopathic murderers. Thanks Tony (even Mandelson thinks you went too far in caving in to Sinn Fein)

jailhouselawyer said...

gordon-bennett: So, there were no killers on the other side?

Anonymous said...

anyonebutblair - if it means that my children aren't going to face being blown up on the streets of Manchester, I'll happily hold my nose. Blair, for all his faults, has helped bring peace.

Anonymous said...

I don't want Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Yorkshire or anywherebloodyelse to split away from the UK.

Goddammit, aren't there any Unionists left??

I watch the UK crumbling away before my very eyes with no-one lifting a finger to stop it. This neo-celtic/anglo nationalist fervour is rife.

I value our shared freedoms, shared heritage, varied culture, beautiful flag and global influence.

I don't want to see us sliced up into a series of petit Eurocentric ethnic fiefdoms. Bollocks.

Ulster to stay British. Scotland to stay British. Wales to stay British. England to stay British.

No reason why a form of devolution can't work in the long-term. It's just Nulab are such total undemocratic, twatmongs they've f**ked up the whole constitution, trust in politics and faith in the nation.

Don't write Britain off!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2.14. The war is and was over. Why? Money. It had little to do with Blair and his hand of history nonsense. The people of NI can look across the border at the newly prosperous South and say, "me too" and want a share in the prosperity and house price boom. The thought that the IRA in the war on terror climate could return to violence against the UK is/was laughable. The Americans wouldn't tolerate it and worse, it would affect house prices. But I agree sometimes you have to be prepared to eat dirt and worse in the pursuit of peace, and it's good that NI is peaceful and our children are safe.
Slugger - is this analysis correct, as someone who knows a lot more that I about NI?

Anonymous said...

The union with Scotland only goes back 300 years and with Ireland only 200. That is not such a long time if you consider railways have been about for roughly 200 years and canals more. There is nothing set in stone in these unions - they just suited the English monarchy or government at the time.

Anonymous said...

More Vulgar - do you not know your history? Ulster was part of Ireland, not Great Britain. Just a small matter of GB taking what wasn't theirs to take. No sense in rehashing it but it makes every bit of sense to move on. Sentimentality about the good old United Kingdom doesn't cut it.

I think the people of Northern Ireland deserve a lot more. And if they are changing their views it could also have a lot to do with the fact that compared to the Republic of Ireland the UK is starting to look more like a busted flush. In the old days when the Republic of Ireland was still a third world country it made economic sense to stay with the Union. And the UK did its part by 'buying them off' with a hugely unquestioning and generous benefit system. With the emergence of the Celtic Tiger it makes more and more sense to throw their lot in with them. Nothing wrong with that. The truth of the matter is that Northern Ireland has long been a thorn in the side of various British Governments and I daresay they will only be too glad to be rid of a troublesome step-child.

Anonymous said...

The attitude of most people in the Uk mainland is who cares. It will not make one bit of difference to UK politcs. It really must be the most amazing coalition in the world based on keeping selective education and not receiving a separate bill for your water rates.

Anonymous said...

Spot on, Lady Finchley.

David Lindsay said...

The election itself was mostly about water rates, with Paisley and Adams equally opposed to them on identical grounds. The fact is that the existing parties in Northern Ireland exist in order to question which is no longer being asked.

As we (some of us, anyway) seek to build proper political parties from the grassroots up, we should be mindful that those include the grassroots of Northern Ireland. Whatever comes after Labour and the Tories should be the main parties there as surely as in England, Scotland and Wales.

Sir-C4' said...

Don't count on power-sharing to last, as Dr. Paisley is living on borrowed time and when he dies, the DUP will tear itself apart with the moderates going to the Ulster Unionists and the hardline rump of the DUP pulling out of governemnt with Sinn Fein.

Anonymous said...

C4. All the more reason to integrate Ulster with the rest of Ireland as soon as possible. People (even most of those of a strong religious faith) are firstly concerned about their economic well-being, and as Lady Finchly says, the economic future of Ulster lies with the South. Times change in the south, too, and a lot of the causes of fear are evaporating with Eire's economic progress. The real problem, apart from the paramilitaries, is the old, and as you say they will die. Clearly none of this can be forced, but attitudes will change quickly.

Anonymous said...

Lady Finchley/Pedant:

Of course I know my f**king history you cheeky bastards. I *READ* history at university. Just because I have a different interpretation of history to yours, doesn't make you "right", or allow you to speak with greater authority than myself.

The Celtic Tiger, as you call it, was a spluttering wreck for decades and only took off in the 1990s when they finally worked out that cutting taxes might be a good idea. The same medicine would work for the UK as a whole, but I would accelerate the process by devolving full-tax raising powers to the constituent nations.

Also 'Pedant', aka "numbnuts", the short history of the Union does not invalidate it. The US is younger, as are almost all the latin American countries, most of Africa and quite a bit of Asia. So bloody what?

The UK is an excellent example of an enduring union of people sharing the same island, with different cultures, coming together to shape the world into a better place. It is a fantastic success story.

I see no reason why it should be dismantled - or why it is inevitable that it will be dismantled - just because you are obsessed with your idealistic dream of a united Ireland or some misplaced sense of some racially exclusive "Celtic Brotherhood".

Anonymous said...

as an irish nationalist i have to agree with the above poster. taxation independence is the crucial thing that will make this agreement work.

But what happened in my view, is that another form of "Irishness" has just come to the fore - for too long we nationalists have ignored the Irishness of Unionism, and only equated Irishness with Republican nationalism. That has got to stop. they have been here for over 400 years. we have to suck it up and just accept it.

I long for the day when Ian Paisley stops his ridiculous "i am british rants", and just accepts that he is an IRISH loyalist. And I long for the day that us nationalists can accept that differing view on what it means to be Irish.

Mark my words - when we get Orangemen celebrating the Battle of the Boyne on the river Boyne itself, and having a pint of guiness with nationalists like me, THEN we'll have true peace. and that day is not far off.

united ireland? nah. not in my lifetime. its time to just accept reality. it just not going to happen. and nationalists like myself (and many southern voters) have accepted that. lets move onto more serious stuff like jobs and taxation.

thats what we're all after. prosperity for both sides of the border. its time to leave this long, bitter and dirty war in the past.

by the way, dont english folks know why there is an orange in the irish flag? its symbolises the Orange Protestants.

and the white? thats symbolises peace with the green bit.

for the first time in history , that naive symbolism has come to life.

Wolfe Tone's idealism has finally come to fruition. hopefully and with fingers crossed may i add, it may come to pass, and i can have a pint in Protestant Ballymena as peacefully as an Orangeman parading in a Kerry St Patricks Day parade.

Anonymous said...


What is there to interpret? Britain illegally occupied Ireland all those years ago - end of story. You need to get over romantic ideas of Great Britain at least when it concerns Ireland. As for the Celtic tiger - well, the Republic did the tax thing and yes it is quite easy but GB didn't do it and for that and many other reasons we are looking more and more clapped out. I know who I would align myself with if I had the choice. A vibrant, forward thinking nation or one bogged down with crippling taxes, rife with political correctness and sacrificed on the altar of multi-culturalism. Any wonder why there is a more flexible attitude on the part of Paisley and co?

And Conor, you are so right. However, my husband tells of how his dad, a member of the Orange Lodge and the local Catholic Republican used to brew poteen together - and this was in the bad old days.

The funny thing is when Irish Ulster Protestants come over to England they tend to naturally align with other Irish folk - catholic, protestant, northern and southern. That says something powerful doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Conor mac neasa:

Very dignified and mature post, you make some good points. A very positive vision for the future.

Lady Finchley:


We all know aspects of Britain's history aren't all rosy, that's not the point. The point is that we have learnt from them, overcome them and moved on. You haven't.

Almost all nations in history have had a murky side to them. Slavery, oppression, occupations, colonisations.. you name it. It's not an excuse to dismantle those nations and vilify those living in them today.

But being a self-flagellating white liberal, you wouldn't understand that would you?

Anonymous said...

Crikey Vulgar you are touchy and if you knew a thing about me you would know that I am as far from being a liberal as can be though I plead guilty to being white! I am not debating the rights and wrongs of British occupation of Ireland - if you read my post correctly you would have seen that. What I am saying is that your rosy view of the United Kingdom is somewhat skewed and I am very well versed in Irish history by the way.

As for slavery, I am known far and wide for the derision with which I greet the apologists - my ancestors were busy crushing grapes in Italy and even if they weren't I would never apologise for slavery. Ridiculous.

If you read my earlier posts thoroughly instead of jumping to insult you would also have seen that I said that all the Northern Irish Protestants I know - my husband's very big family who by the way are all working class and not middle class 'intellectuals' do not and never have had an affinity with the English. In fact, my late father-in-law, a member of the Orange Lodge, absolutely abhorred them. Their so called wish to be British was only the wish to maintain the status quo as far as economics went because they were told that the feckless Catholics would steal their jobs and benefits. Now that they see we all don't have horns they realise that the benefits etc were a sop handed out by the British Government who really couldn't give a toss for them and view them as a huge embarrassment and nuisance.

By the way even though I am a 'Taig' and a nationalist to boot, I was always warmly accepted by my husband's family and all the locals. So let's not get hung up about history and let's applaud the new order.

Anonymous said...

There is no 'new order' as you suggest. A new order would be established if the essentially sectarian basis of our political system here was dismantled. The DUP/Sinn Fein duopoly implies that these Parties represent us - they don't. They received a mandate because nothing else was on offer. British governments (and many British people) assume that people in Northern Ireland are born sectarian. We are not. At least the Conservative Party is organised and contests elections in Northern Ireland. The Labour Party doesn't - and that's a disgrace and grossly insulting to people here who want to vote for (or against) the Parties that seek to govern them. The perpetual coalition power-sharing Assembly that's on offer here is only a chimera of democracy. A better democracy would be one based on proper left/right discussions and political Parties - and a proper opposition voice. What is on offer is an Assembly that institutionalises sectarianism - where elected members have to declare as Nationalist or Unionist. In a divided society we should be doing everything to get rid of our atavistic and religious based divisions. A great place to start would be to secularise our political landscape - that would be a step in the right direction.