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NI Minister for Culture has no interest in Irish culture, language or sport

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jul 9th, 2009 at 06:59:42 PM EST

I wrote in Sectarianism reigns supreme in Northern Ireland? that

Politics in Northern Ireland has always been primarily about tribal identity.  You are either a Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist or a Catholic/Nationalist/Republican with the latter ends of those labels being at the extreme end of the spectrum.

and concluded that:
If you see Alban McGuinness of the SDLP getting anywhere close to a European Parliament seat you will know that "the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone" are indeed capable of change.

Well Alban McGuinness didn't get elected despite a split on the Loyalist side between:

Diane Dodds (DUP) successor to Ian Paisley and favoured to head the poll in the European Elections - challenged from her right - by sitting MEP Jim McAlister (Traditional Unionist Party) - who fell out with the DUP because it dared to enter a power-sharing administration with Sinn Fein.

And today we see that the failure of a non-sectarian centre to emerge in Northern Ireland politics has very real consequences.  The Northern Ireland Executive has a new and unashamedly sectarian Minister.  Follow me below the fold for an apparent journey back in time...


NI culture minister under fire - The Irish Times - Thu, Jul 09, 2009

Politicians hit out at the Democratic Unionist Party's new Culture Minister today after he said he would not attend events in Catholic churches because of his opposition to the religion.

Nelson McCausland also admitted he did not know Tyrone were All-Ireland Gaelic football champions. As he repeated his opposition to Gaelic sport and language, he was accused of failing to show respect for those outside his own community.

He was appointed to Northern Ireland's cabinet by party leader Peter Robinson last week in a move that followed a poor European election performance by the DUP.

Today republicans and nationalists accused Mr McCausland of failing to show he can be a minister for the entire community.

The SDLP's Declan O'Loan said: "Nobody can expect a minister to be fully conversant with all aspects of language, culture and sport that we have here. It is important, however, that he shows himself respectful to all. He seems to ignore his duty in that regard."

Mr McCausland yesterday launched the Orange Order's July 12th events as one of his first actions as minister and faced accusations of not showing the same interest in events linked to the Catholic and nationalist community.

----snip

On the GAA [Gaelic Athletic Association], which is the biggest sporting organisation in Ireland and the largest spectator sport, he said he had no interest. "I have no knowledge of the game in terms of who has won what league or who is playing in a particular league, any more than I have a knowledge of who the Northern Ireland champion is in Lacrosse or squash or many other sports," he said.

Mr Nelson is visiting a Gaeltacht [Irish language speaking] area of Co Donegal today to meet Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affair Éamon Ó Cuív and Northern Ireland Education Minister Caitriona Ruane.

But asked by the BBC if he would learn some greetings in Irish before today's visit, Mr McCausland said: "I think that my knowledge of Irish will remain somewhat limited.

"I always take the view that just because somebody can say a few words in any language doesn't mean they have any knowledge of it. I am living at present in a cul-de-sac but it doesn't mean I am very fluent in French."

Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Antrim Daithí McKay said: "Since he came into office less than a week ago, Nelson McCausland has engaged in a media campaign attacking the GAA, the Irish language and now the Catholic Church."

He added that "once again a senior figure in the DUP has failed the test of political leadership".

Mr McKay warned that the remarks of politicians could fuel sectarian divisions and he condemned loyalist paint bomb attacks on Catholic churches and on GAA property in his constituency last night.

When your identity depends on being a member of one tribe defined in contradistinction to another, you have no need to curry favour with the other tribe by showing the slightest interest in their most important cultural and sporting events or pastimes.  In fact you are in danger of being termed a Lundy or traitor if you show too close an affinity with members of the other community.

McCausland may have been appointed Minister for Culture in a power sharing administration meant to serve all the people of Northern Ireland, but that is to ignore the core Unionist principle that Northern Ireland was never supposed to be anything more than a protestant state for a protestant people.  Welcome to the 19th. Century.  Again.  Those who ignore history are bound (or doomed) to repeat it.

Display:
How splendid of Nelson McCausland, the North's new Minister for Culture, to declare he has no interest in the GAA or the Irish language.  Launching the Orange Order's 12th of July festivities might have seemed the ideal occasion to declare his opposition to or opposition to all things "Catholic".  As he says, himself, "living in a cul de sac" doesn't make him an expert in French.  But could it be that he is living in something of a time warp and cultural dead end?  In a modern democracy, ministers of state are expected to represent and honour the cultural traditions of all their constituents.  Perhaps he might consider leaving his cul de sac and living in the 21st. Century?


notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 9th, 2009 at 02:27:22 PM EST
the core Unionist principle that Northern Ireland was never supposed to be anything more than a protestant state for a protestant people.

That will be hard to maintain once the current majority-catholic younger generation grows up and the current 65+ die off. (In the 2001 census [pdf!], it was "Protestants and Other Christian (including Christian related)" 53.1% Catholics 43.8% overall, but Catholics exceeding Protestants in all age groups below 25 years old.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 05:58:01 AM EST
Yea - the Irish partition boundary commission which decided on the boundaries of Northern Ireland got a bit greedy and included many Nationalist majority areas within Northern Ireland.  Presumably the intention was to "ethnically cleanse" those areas in due course.  Now however, as you point out, the demographic balance is becoming dangerously close.

The assumption that demographic trends will result in a Catholic majority and that this will automatically result in a Nationalist majority has been challenged many times.  However the Good Friday Agreement for the first time makes  formal provision for the constitutional status of Northern Ireland to change should a majority of its citizens so decide.  It is therefore no longer for the UK as a whole to decide on the status of NI but its own people.  

This removed a concern on the nationalist side that the UK was holding on to NI for strategic or "national" reasons which bore no relationship to the will of the people living there.  It also removes the absolute Unionist veto to any change on the status of Northern Ireland, to a relative one - sustainable only insofar as they can maintain a plurality of votes.

Whist the Celtic Tiger was in full bloom it was conceivable that Ireland could take on the major budgetary burden that administering NI would entail.  Financially that is no longer possible for the foreseeable future unless the EU were to pick up the tab for the annual 7 Billion subvention to NI from the UK exchequer.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 06:26:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The assumption that demographic trends will result in a Catholic majority and that this will automatically result in a Nationalist majority has been challenged many times.

On the first half, such a challenge now has its work cut out for itself: it would have to argue that fertility among Catholics will become substantially lower among Catholics in the current Catholic-majority youngest generation (or that desegregation and emigration will be more significant and stronger among Catholics). On the second half, I'd hope for an eventual anti-segregationist majority once all the super-mega-hyper extremists wear themselves down in power; but at any rate, the Unionists will become a minority.

At any rate, my blasphemous self also hopes that the "None" Community Background, which was a record 9.16% in the under one year old age group in the 2001 census, will grow further...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 06:40:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Loyalists sometimes talk about an apartheid style re-partition to create a protestant majority enclave in Antrim/east Belfast as a last ditch retreat from a growing Catholic population.  One of the benefits of the Good Friday Agreement is that it probably cuts off that option - although, in theory, loyalists could vote it in just before they lose an overall majority in N.I.

The small segment disavowing either Protestant or Catholic affiliation has been growing slowly (afaik) and would hold the balance of power and prevent "all-or-nothing" "solutions" such as a protestant enclave or full incorporation into a United Ireland.

Probably some federal solution will be mooted once the non-aligned hold the balance of power.  Over the decades of partition, quite strong cultural differences have grown up between Northern and Southern nationalists (witness Sinn Fein remaining below 10% in South) and so Northern Nationalist might also prefer a federal solution to full integration with the south.

Besides all which, Northerners are a very hard headed bunch and will not give up the 7 Billion UK subsidy without a better alternative.  My bigger fear would be that Britain, in financial difficulties, will seek to precipitously offload NI without going through the necessary preparatory processes.  The last thing we need to do is to destabilise the whole situation again.

Change is going to be a slow bottom up process from now on, and we don't need top down political engineers trying to make a name for themselves.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 07:05:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The small segment disavowing either Protestant or Catholic affiliation has been growing slowly (afaik) and would hold the balance of power

Checking the last Assembly election (2007), I see they were pretty close already: the three Unionist parties had 55 out of 108 seats, that's majority+1. And that only because of the slight pro-major-party bent of the election system: in first-preference votes, those three Unionists, UK Unionist, and the Tories and UKIP sum up to 47.8%, already a minority; while the more or less Nationalists sum up to 41.8%.

In the 2009 EP elections (much lower turnout), the first preference vote figures were similar, Unionists: 48.6%, Nationalists: 41.9%.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 07:38:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That there is a long term trend is not in question.  It used to be almost 2:1 Protestant to Catholics c. 40 years ago.  Then 60:40.  Now closer to 55:45 amongst the politically committed as you suggest.  

The debate is around the when this becomes 50:50 taking all the other factors (listed below) are taken into account.  (Some protestants vote for the SDLP and some Catholics for the Unionists) although the numbers are small and disputed and I am not clear on what the trends in these small numbers are).

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 07:44:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But, I was talking about the possibility of third parties (non-sectarian ones) holding the balance of power. From the above, that might come in the next elections already, talk of 50:50 would then go away quickly.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 08:16:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem for non-sectarian parties is that the Good Friday Agreement pretty much assumes all parties that matter are sectarian.

The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 08:43:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is it's major flaw which I opposed at the time and which requires parties to designate themselves as Unionist or nationalist for some key votes and under the d'hondt allocation of Ministers rules.  We had the farce, some years ago, of the Alliance and Women's coalition members having to re designate themselves as Unionist to allow for the election of David Trimble as first minister.

The New Worker

But a further manouevre from northern Ireland Secretary John Reid salvaged things. He extended the deadline on elections before suspension would automatically take effect, by allowing the Alliance Party to re-designate its five votes. A second bite at the cherry ensured a cross-community majority for Trimble.

 That gave him his job back on November 6, supported by the nationalist vote of Sinn Fein and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). Of 99 votes cast, 70 members voted in favour: out of 60 unionist votes, 31 voted in favour, while all 38 nationalist votes were cast in favour. There has to be a majority within in each community.

 The DUP, who had originaily been crowing over David Trimble's discomfort, were soon furious. But it was the UUP leaders' action of recklessly resigning in the first place, to push the IRA, which gave hardliners their opportunity. In any case, it will never satisfy the anti-Agreement diehards, whatever the IRA do. At the UUP leaders press conference scuffles broke out.



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 09:05:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is pretty remarkable that the parliamentary caucuses are fixed by the "Constitution". Now, how hard would it be to amend the agreement to add a "non-sectarian" category for "some key votes and d'Hondt allocation of Ministers"?

The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 09:26:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Politically, given current majorities, very hard.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 11:48:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No one will want to touch the GFA at the moment for fear of opening up a can of worms and re-opening the whole thing to re-negotiation - cf. Lisbon.

My view, at the time, that a simple 60%- 65% majority requirement for key discussions would have ensured a high degree of cross community support without the embarrassing need for some parties to temporarily designate themselves as one or the other in order to achieve a 50% majority in "both" communities.

I say "both" in parentheses because the whole point of the GFA is to try and get away from sectarian majority rule, and thus institutionalising sectarian divisions is exactly the wrong way to go.

A 60-65% majority requirement would ensure that the non-aligned centre would be the swing vote in contentious decisions and this influential role would encourage the development of a larger non-aligned centre.

At the moment power flows to the extremes with the DUP seeking hegemony on the Unionist side, and Sinn Fein on the nationalist side, and both largely succeeding.  Once the electorate can see only the centre can get things done they might get more support.

As it is Alliance seems destined to be a sub 10% party for the medium term.  There is no incentive for anyone to moderate - only to maximise their "sides" influence in the Executive by electing their most extreme representatives possible.

Hence we get the McCausland's of this world - who I would guess would be seen as something of a small town bigot even in the north.  People who speak moderation, and getting along in public will still vote extremes in private to ensure their side doesn't lose out.

I don't know if Sinn Fein/DUP insisted on the double majority rule to copper fasten their hold on their respective "communities" in anticipation of this happening.  What I have read of the GFA negotiations doesn't cover this point.

I had planned to do an in depth study of those negotiations, but that isn't going to happen now.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 12:08:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
institutionalising sectarian divisions is exactly the wrong way to go

Of late, it seems that when The West™ gets involved anywhere they feel that empowering the representatives of the sectarian factions is the way to go...

The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 01:38:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of late? Was British imperial policy since at least the Sepoy Mutiny.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 01:59:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you see conflict in military/strategic terms, your natural tendency is to treat with the guys with the guns.  Moderates never had any.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 02:04:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm, except in many cases, some of those groups got their guns from 'you' in the first place... This happened in Kosovo and Iraq most recently. Also, reinforcing sectarianism goes much further than recognition: as in the Good Friday agreements, the rules introduced by the interventionist reinforce, codify, and extend the sectarian groups. Look at India today: a rigid caste system is alive and well across the country, even though it was created by the British in the first place (by classifying hundreds of local clans into four semi-feudal castes with traits they set, loosely following the customs of one smaller sub-region of India).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 02:30:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whist the Celtic Tiger was in full bloom it was conceivable that Ireland could take on the major budgetary burden that administering NI would entail.

Based on the numbers, I'd expect a potential Nationalist referendum majority in 2020 at the earliest -- but, as discussed by you, and me in the other reply, a Unionist minority is much easier to predict than an actual pro-reunion Nationalist majority.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 06:45:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in 2020 at the earliest

Er, make that 2025.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 07:14:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the uncertainty re demographic trends relates to:

  1. they don't always go in straight lines - fertility amongst Catholics has been reducing

  2. differential impact of economic and social changes on protestant and catholic communities - Protestants tend to be more mobile within the UK, Catholics within Ireland

  3. some (small) evidence of reduced identification of Protestants with unionist/loyalist parties and ditto for Catholics with Sinn Fein/SDLP

  4. reduced self-identification with any "religious" community

  5. the "lets outbreed them" strategy seems to be unfashionable at the present time....


notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 07:26:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is more to natural demographic trends than fertility. There should be less uncertainty about the voter body in the medium future: in 2020, they will be basically the 2001 total population (in which Protestants outnumbered Catholics by 157,965) minus the (well, mostly) old people who died since. If 'Catholic' fertility did not fall dramatically below the Protestant one in the past eight years, then just because of the Catholic majority in the first-child-age generation, the majority was probably sustained (we'll see after the 2011 census?). With that, those who were Catholics in 2001 or born to them since will have a potential voter majority in 2030 or a few years later (Protestant surplus in ages 50+ in 2001: 137,727) -- there should be little ucertainty about that, save for massive emigrations or genocide.

Of course, if your points 3 and 4 are a trend, again, we might see both groups falling under 50% much sooner, as people ditching the sectarian identities (either politically and in general) form an even larger group. So, back to my original point: the Unionist dream of democrature is certainly over, whether it will come from demographics in 10-25 years or from cultural changes in 2011; whether Nationalist dreams of democrature will matierualise or not.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 08:13:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What, frankly, does anyone expect ? The labour and conservative parties in Britain created this situation by refusing to organise in NI, thus giving people no alternative to the sectarian political divide.

So all politics there is entrenched as being either protestant or catholic.

They also allowed that blabberous puff dragon Paisley to simultaneously be a local councillor, a member of the NI assembly, a British MP and an MEP. Allowing him to spread his fetid bigotries over every political establishment with influence.

It has taken 3 political generations to arrive at this place, it will take at least a generation for anything to begin to change.

But then again, I amended the title. Just as in the UK, being interested in culture is no pre-requisite for being given the post. A man who can only support the culture of his own tribe is only motivated by his tribe, not by culture. Few politicians, be they protestant or chatolic, arising from such a tribal background would, in their heart of hearts, be any different. He's a symptom of the blasted political landscape or NI.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 08:24:07 AM EST
Helen:
he labour and conservative parties in Britain created this situation by refusing to organise in NI, thus giving people no alternative to the sectarian political divide.
  The Unionist party is officially aligned with the Conservative Party whose actual title is the Conservative and Unionist party.  The NILP (Northern Irish Labour Party) was effectively subsumed by the  SDLP although some fragments remained.  The problem wasn't that Labour didn't attempt to organise, but that their support gradually went elsewhere..  An Irish nationalist is hardly going to vote for a British party, be in Conservative or Labour, as by definition, a vote for a British party is a vote for the Union with Britain..

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 09:20:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given their adoption of the "English Votes for English Laws" platform, and the geographical distribution of their support base, one would have to question whether the Conservative is a Unionist party any longer or just English Nationalist.

The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 09:24:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Part of the reason the Unionists are clinging so desperately to them - and trying to be more English than the English themselves.  After all even the English love of ceremonial doesn't extend as far as widespread support for an Orange Order in England.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 09:31:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I know the alliances exist(ed). but the fact remains that they never allowed a non-sectarian political culture to develop.

There were plenty of left-leaning protestants who had nowhere to go but the Orange side who mioght have joined a labour party. that would have fractured the orange voting bloc.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 01:18:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the Conservative and Unionist Party the Church of England = the Conservative Party at prayer is a sectarian party - Unionism and preservation of Protestantism being co-terminus in this context.  And the British Labour Party (heavily influenced by methodism) is a British party whose presence in NI is an instance of the UK in action and organised primarily in Protestant dominated large employers like Harland and Wolff and Shortts..  So how could the greater presence of either in NI have contributed to satisfying nationalist grievances?

yes, moderate leaders like David Bleakley were non-sectarian and tried to promote class rather than sectarian politics, but they were always very marginal in terms of votes.  I just don't see where all those left leaning protestants were.  The liberals joined the New Ulster Movement, Alliance, Women's coalition, Greens, and the SDLP.  There always were options, but the vast majority of Protestants, and particularly the working class voted for Unionist/loyalist parties like UUP, DUP and joined protestant paramilitary groups.

That things would have been very different under Labour rule is a myth the Labour party likes to propagate.  In practice Labour leaders like Wilson, Callaghan, Mason were the very worst at caving into loyalist/paramilitary demands and Tory leaders like Whitelaw, Heath, Thatcher, Howe the more imaginative!

Its only when Tory Labour PM Bliar came on the scene that Labour adopted a more even handed approach...

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 01:48:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, all that is convincing, except I wouldn't call any NI policies by Thatcher imaginative or even handed...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 01:56:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I added that for shock value - and to some extent it is true - she had to be led to the well but she did eventually drink - and unlike Wilson, she could deliver...

First law of negotiation: Find out what your adversary can't deliver even if he wanted to

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 01:59:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
she did eventually drink ... she could deliver...

When was that? In my recollection, she was more pro military/secret service escalation and pro secret cooperation with the loyalists against the IRA, and Major was a (slight) positive move from there, with true improvements only in the first term of Bliar.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 02:03:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Margaret Thatcher - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
On 15 November 1985, Thatcher and FitzGerald signed the Hillsborough Anglo-Irish Agreement; the first time a British government gave the Republic of Ireland an advisory role in the governance of Northern Ireland.


notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 02:06:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now having read the Anglo-Irish Agreement wiki article, interesting, I did not know much about this one (I probably read of it only passingly in a diary of yours!). Ian Paisley admonishing Thatcher for treachery... However, it looks like her aims had more to do with winning Ireland's cooperation for her war against the IRA -- and then (in times of her further escalating dirty war), she regretted it all:

Thatcher was taken aback by the ferocity of the unionist response and in her memoirs she said their reaction was "worse than anyone had predicted to me".[15] She furthermore claimed that the Agreement was in the tradition of British governments refraining "from security policies that might alienate the Irish Government and Irish nationalist opinion in Ulster, in the hope of winning their support against the IRA". However Thatcher perceived the results of this to be disappointing because "our concessions alienated the Unionists without gaining the level of security co-operation we had a right to expect. In the light of this experience it is surely time to consider an alternative approach".[16] In 1998 Thatcher said she regretted signing the Agreement and said of Enoch Powell's opposition to the Agreement: "I now believe that his assessment was right".[17]


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 02:44:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ah, but the perception of the conservative party as the political wing of the protestant church could only seem to make sense when seen from Ireland. We simply don't have that connection this side of the Irish sea.

That successive administrations failed to deal with the problem was mostly due to different issues than those you identify. Much of which could probably be called sheer ignorance and bafflement at the things that were thought important in NI. they never got to grip with the sheer insanity of it until Major (not blair) finally did the sensible thing and screwed the orangers.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jul 11th, 2009 at 08:41:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Helen:
ah, but the perception of the conservative party as the political wing of the protestant church could only seem to make sense when seen from Ireland. We simply don't have that connection this side of the Irish sea.

Sorry, but the numerous references to the CofE being "the Tory Party at prayer" all come from British sources and it has been a lively topic of debate within the CofE for decades.

I don't doubt the ignorance of Labour leaders, but exactly how then would  a greater Labour presence in Northern Ireland have improved things?  I'm afraid Labour viewed NI though Imperial eyes perhaps even more so than the Tories who tended to take a more real politique view of the situation - at least the foreign office "wet wing" of the party - who were often the first to start the decolonisation of ruling class mindsets...

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 11th, 2009 at 09:33:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh for sure, the CofE being the tory party at prayer is an old joke, but probably hasn't really been true since WWII. That's the joy of secular politics, people of all faiths and none choose political parties on the basis of their earthly policies and not the bog-witch they worship.

Example: Michael howard, the tory leader before Cameron is jewish and the best thing about that was that I didn't know until recently; because it doesn't matter. I honestly don't know what religion most MPs are because, with the damnable exception of Ruth Kelly and a couple of others, most of them don't prattle on about it.

Sure, there are the set piece abortion debates when ruth Kelly and a couple of others will jump up and down about god-given this and that. but most of them have the good sense to STFU about religion.

You're probably not wrong about Labour having an imperialist mindset when it came to NI. However, I think there's a story to be told about how MI5 (which was Cheney-esque right wing unionist) dripped poisoned lies into successive minister's ears about the situation to the detriment of the possibility of peace. They were very much about ensuring Orange hegemony forever and were willing to do anything in support of that. In the absence of honest reporting, 2 decades were lost.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jul 11th, 2009 at 10:11:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll have to re-read Jonathan Powell's Great Hatred, Little Room to remind myself about 5i5's various shenanigans insofar as he was aware of them, but there is little doubt that Labour Leaders before Bliar viewed NI as primarily a security rather than political problem - probably be cause they were worried about being outflanked to their right by Tory "Law and Order" and Rule Britannia politics.  The Labour left (Benn et al) has an altogether more honourable history.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 11th, 2009 at 10:49:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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