The Irish politics’ site, Slugger O’Toole, features a short article by its editor, Mick Fealty, offering a mild chastisement to the nationalist majority in Ireland for “talking behind the backs or over the heads” of the unionist minority in the north-east of the country; and for failing to engage with that minority in a way which recognises and assuages its aspirations and fears. Which is a decidedly ahistorical claim to make considering that the major political demographic on the island has been seeking rapprochement with the minor one for well over a century. And on extremely favourable terms to the latter. One is tempted to ask: how many partitions must be offered, how many Good Friday Agreements must be reached, before unionism can acknowledge the good faith of the opposite political tradition in the country or countenance the sharing of territory – or space of any kind – with those who broadly identify with it?
Implying that the onus is mainly upon Irish nationalists to make the artificial division of their own country work in order to meet the demands and concerns of those who historically brought it about is an odd condition to base all future progress upon. Especially when the original separation was forced upon the majority, as the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently noted, becoming a gangrenous source of neverending strife and dissension. If one looks at the last one hundred years of Irish political activity, it’s difficult to discern much evidence of the pro-union community being ignored or sidelined. On the contrary, the historical record points the other way.
One but need list the most significant regional and international settlements reached on the island in the 20th and 21st centuries to prove the breadth and weight of unionist accommodation: The Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland in 1921; The Agreement Between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom in 1985; The Northern Ireland Peace Agreement (The Agreement reached in the multi-party negotiations, and, The Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of Ireland) in 1998; and finally The Agreement at St. Andrews in 2006. Is there any reasonable – or unreasonable – political, diplomatic or constitutional measure that has not been employed in the last century to appease the pro-union demographic?
Yet, reciprocacy is a word that rarely features in the rhetoric of the unionist leadership in the contested north-eastern corner of the island. What that cohort demands of others it habitually denies of itself. Pro-union advocates seek the formal recognition and protection of the United Kingdom’s legacy colony in Ireland, coupled with the enthusiastic participation of all its local inhabitants, yet violently reject any identity for the troubled region but that which is derived from Britain or filtered through a British prism. They state unambiguously to northern nationalists, part of the majority demographic in the country: you may identify as Irish in private, but you shall not identify as Irish in public. Nor shall the territory you inhabit have any such identity, as a whole or in part, shared or coequal.
Far from demanding that nationalism must make “Northern Ireland” a success, politically, economically or socially, the obligation is upon those who brought about its establishment, and who demand its continuation, to make it the success that they wish. In plain language: you broke it, you fix it. And if you cannot fix it, or have no real desire to substantially fix it, then do not be surprised if others are happy to see it discarded. After all, unionists – and their UK backers – have had a century to prove that partition works. Can anyone point to anything more than abject failure after those long and bloody one hundred years?
When one is forced to invoke the likes of Eoghan Harris and Ruth Dudley Edwards in order to bolster one’s line of arguementation then it really smacks of desperation. – this what Mick Fealty has done in this article.
Bear in mind that Ruth Dudley Edwards is the same individual that castigated the movie “The Wind that shakes the Barley” – only to have to subsequently admit that she had not even seen the movie.
As to the Northern statelet, it was carved out undemocratically to cater exclusively for the Unionist minority in Ireland against the democratic mandate of the Irish people. It was a disastrous idea and has been a failed state from the start. Unionists are determined to try to defy the Nationalist community in the North at every turn.
Paradoxically, such Unionist efforts have only served to energize the Nationalist community in now rejecting the
re-establishment of the Northern Executive, rejecting the Northern statelet and now already looking to Dublin and to the real prospects of the re-Unification of Ireland.
So, effectively Unionist refusal to accept parity of esteem for Nationalists in the North is merely acting as a catalyst in undermining the very statelet they think they are strengthening.
Completely agree and also with the OP too. Thought that invoking RDE and EH as authorities was very telling, but really the whole piece by MF however well intentioned ignored as ASF notes the Good Friday Agreement,the issue of who had state power for fifty years and then state support de facto until the GFA etc.
One very preceptive comment on the “Slugger O’Toole” site on Mick Fealty’s article which is well worth repaeating and which capture’s the mood of Nationalist Ireland rather well :
“These articles are reminiscint of the kind of challenges women faced years ago (And still some today) where their husbands would come home drunk having spent the housekeeping money and then batter his wife around the house. When she would reach out for help, the useless advisors would advise her to try not upsetting him, maybe dress sexier or try harder in the kitchen and bedroom to make him happy. Of course nothing she ever did could stop him from taking out his insecurities and self loathing on her with beating after beating until she eventually plucked up the courage to walk away and build a better life without him.
The non unionist community are in a similar situation where extreme unionism is concerned. The uncompromising abuse dished out by unionist hardliners when it come to the economy (Brexit) rights (lgbt) legacy (unlawful withholding of funding ) and language (ILA commitments abandoned) have landed punch after punch on every limb of Northern society that isn’t white straight and fundamentalist.
Yet in the above article the advisor suggests we should take it all on the chin, tip toe quietly around the monster in the hope he will put the bottle down and unwrap his fist and allow our lives to be slowly obliterated by an abuser that has long since lost any hope of reconstruction.
Alex Kane writes ( in fact he begs ) unionism to take it’s head out of the sand and it’s fingers out of its ears but the answer he gets back is the same answer Peter Robinson gets, the same answer nationalists and minorities get, the same answer four greatly esteemed economists get, the same answer the Irish government get and the same answer the majority of the people in northern Ireland get. No Surrender. Never Never Never.
Time is up.”
Agree with all that, except, this wasn’t a marriage entered voluntarily or wantingly certainly one without love. It was one arranged by brutal force and subjugation, no dress was given, the action in the bedroom was rape, what was provided in the kitchen was extorted, and the labour often akin to slavery. Even though currently there are a number of band-aids over these wounds and scars, they are still there. Too many people have been mentally suppressing that reality, especially in the Free Republic (the 6 counties are still Ireland, and will always be). The outrage over the past should be transferring to that over the wanton desires of these cretins for the future of the fourth green field. At some point, enough is enough.
NI Unionists/Loyalists will never be satisfied until the Tricolour is no longer the flag of ireland,the national anthem is changed to something that suits them (Lilli bulero?), Ireland re-joins the Commonwealth and leaves the EU with the UK
And the Orange Order can replicate its 4.000 -odd annual marches all over the country.
Maths problem: if they hold 4,00 marches in 6 counties, how many will they want to hold in the other 26? Just to keep things even-like
Here’s jonathan Swift’s modest counter-proposal on how to cope with them!
A good article:
And it hasn’t changed that much since its origins.