Best and Henderson are from where? (by the man from the Daily Telegraph)

Hi All,

I actually remember the days when there was a six month wait for installation of a phone line. I thought that was a thing of the past to be honest.

My recent absence from the blogosphere is unfortunately due to a recent house move and the the absence of Wifi.  Apparently a 15 “working” day wait to transfer my connection is standard. Hmmmmph.

Therefore as I sit in a local hostelry, nursing my “beverage” and availing of their free Wifi I thought a quick post was in order.

The bould Sammy McNally has been in touch this morning regarding a report in this mornings Daily “Torygraph” regarding the excellent start to the World Cup by the Irish Rugby Team. (There is a clue in that)

Apparently, in their print edition, they have the following revelation:

“How many of the Starting XVs were born in the country they represent?”

Ireland only have 11 (according to the Telegraph) because 1 was born in NZ(Payne) , 1 in Israel(Heaslip) and 2 in Northern Ireland(Henderson,Best).

Now, seldom does a day go by that I don’t read some nonsense along these lines, usually from Unionist politicians propagating the “our wee country” myth, but seriously lads, Ireland Rugby Team, Ireland’s Call, even the name of this region is northern Ireland.

It strikes me as hilarious that after 95 years of trying to deny the bloody obvious the Torygraph is still at it. It will, of course, have the same reaction and result among Northern Nationalism.

I suppose they are merely pandering to their dwindling readership. Perhaps that is why it is not on their online edition?

Fear not dear readers, by the way, my recent move was merely from the outer reaches of Bangor, to a rather leafier area nearer the town centre. I am (un)reliably informed that my Wifi will be restored tomorrow but for the moment I am very happy just here



Well Well, Sammy appears to have got another result!

ApologyDTel - Copy

Is the Orange Order isolated on EasyJet stance?

By Sammy McNally

When the Orange Order are finished giving the board of EasyJet a good tongue lashing they may also need to consider popping into Fleet street to give the British press a piece of their mind.

… and they might also need to have a word with the tourist body Visit Belfast.

In commenting on the EasyJet furore in their on-line edition, the Daily Mail stated that (using language somewhat more akin to Sinn Fein)

“Thousands of Pro-British Protestants hold marches every July 12 in the British ruled Drumcree 2015province to mark a 1690 victory by King William of Orange that sealed Protestant domination, a tradition Catholic Irish nationalists consider provocative”

Clearly no airline can be recommending a ‘cultural’ event which more than 40% of the indigenous population find ‘provocative’ (Without providing the appropriate context).

The Independent stated that:

“In the case of this year’s parades, the disruptions included a major outbreak of violence in north Belfast in which a 16-year-old girl was injured after being dragged underneath an out-of-control car”

Closer to home, Visit Belfast, the tourist body tasked with promoting events in Ireland’s second city responded to the query:

“Can you confirm what the official policy of Visit Belfast is in relation to encouraging tourists to attend 12th July celebrations in Belfast?”

with this unconvincing reply:

“With any major event planned for the city, such as and including the 12th of July parades/celebrations, Visit Belfast provides comprehensive information for visitors and residents, on its website, blogs, consumer and industry e-zines, literature.  This also includes information about OrangeFest in Belfast, parade timings and routes, visitors attraction and shop opening hours, street entertainment and up to date information on bus and rail transport.”

Visit Belfast have yet to respond to a further query as to whether their reply above means that they “promote Orangefest to tourists?”

The problem for the Orange Order is that support for their position, apart from that coming from the usual suspects (Unionist politicians) and those associated with the organisation, is thin on the ground.

The DUP’s William Humphrey stated that “The decision by EasyJet to remove an article which highlights and promotes the tourist potential of 12th July parades is an outrageous overreaction to one complaint from a blogger”.

What the Orange Order and the DUP don’t seem to realise is that EasyJet are entitled to review the suitability of events they recommend in their in-flight  magazine – and that the number of people who suggested to them that they do such a review – is completely irrelevant.

Have any British politicians rushed to the defence of the Orange Order which according to Senior Orange man Dr David Hume has now suffered “demonization”?

It doesn’t seem so.

It can’t of course be ruled out that someone from the Tories or UKIP (or perhaps Kate Hoey from the Labour Party) will give some moral backing to the Orange Order in their struggle with EasyJet – but David Cameron and Nigel Farage probably wouldn’t approve.

…ironically, the people who are probably most disconcerted by the Orange Order’s leaders’ decision to do battle with EasyJet are the ordinary, decent, sensible members of the organisation who now have to witness their leadership start another campaign – like the right to march at Drumcree or the abolition of the Parades Commission – which they simply cannot win.

A little light Reading

A Guest blog by Sammy McNally

With no book to hand on my recent EasyJet flight from Split in Croatia, I reluctantly reached for the in-flight magazine (EasyJet Traveller).

July’s in flight magazine was however, a damn good read  – with interesting, well written and informative articles about those cities and countries to which easyJet delivers and collects its tourist cargo.Sopwith

…….and each month they pick a few destinations which they major on – places which presumably are at their best or have something special to offer in the month/season that’s in it.

In Northern Ireland of course, the month of July heralds the marching season, about which the Easyjet mag informed us ‘hundreds of colourful parades take place across Northern Ireland on the 12th July bank holiday to commemorate the 1690 Battle of the Boyne’.

As the plane rose over Croatia and made its way northwards over the former Yugoslavia I couldn’t help but ponder if easyJet also covered other ‘festivals’ which both ‘celebrated’ and exacerbated ethnic tensions – perhaps August’s or September’s Monthly issues covered ‘celebrations of culture’  when perhaps ethnic tensions between Serbs and Croats reaches a crescendo and tourists can enjoy the spectacle of thousands of police officers on the streets – and the novelty of blocked off residential areas –  with a more than an even chance of some good old fashioned Balkan rioting?

(Although I stand to be corrected, I think our Balkan friends may well have moved on – and are trying to put the past behind them – not something the Orange Order could be reasonably accused of).

To be fair to easyJet, there was a coded message which they implanted at the end of their promo piece which stated ‘just check ahead for travel disruptions and advice’………..perhaps attempting to cover themselves in case of complaint from travellers –  though arguably they should have also added ‘and make sure to check the local news to ensure you are not caught up in a sectarian  riot’ or perhaps they should have warned that those travellers who have a dislike for ‘celebrations of culture’  – which in many instances are about stirring up ethnic and religious tensions –  should give the parades a wide berth?

Given that over 40% of the people in Northern Ireland itself probably could not agree with the contention that the parades are ‘great to watch’ I suspect that a significantly higher proportion of EasyJet travellers (if they understood the ethnic, religious and cultural context within which the marches took place) , would also feel disinclined to be enthusiastic about ‘celebrations of culture’ which require stringent legislation and policing to keep their sectarian trappings and supporters under control and which also contribute so negatively to community relations in Northern Ireland.

Update: Below are the e-mail communications between Sammy and Easyjet with names redacted for privacy purposes BD.

Email 1

Dear Sammy,

  We rely on an external network of writers, based in each of our 130+ destinations, to provide the recommendations for our destination guides. These writers are always locally based and are respected journalists in their community and it’s their expertise and on-the-ground knowledge that makes the content of our guides so useful.  

In this instance, the author of our Belfast guide felt the event’s inclusion was of cultural interest to our readers, however, we understand the sensitivities around the event – not least the activities that take place away from the parades and can only apologise for it not being spotted at our normally rigorous editorial sign off.

 Kind regards,


 Brand executive

My Email.


 thanks for reply. 

 Can you confirm that in future editions of Traveller, assuming the sensitivities surrounding the parade and the activities that take place away from the parade remain – that you will not be including such recommendations for travellers in future years?

 Regards, Sammy

Email 2

Hi Sammy,

 Yes, I can confirm that we will not be including such recommendations in future.



A stroll down Bangor Pier

Here we go again folks, we’re entering the home straight towards the “traditional” taig baiting season.

I went for a stroll down Bangor Pier yesterday. It was the first day of the “Sea Bangor” festival celebrating the seaside towns long maritime association as a port on the east coast. I was somewhat disappointed I must admit. The entire pier consisted of a tall shipTall Ship from the Netherlands, brilliant! and a British warship along with 9 (I counted them) recruitment stalls for the British army including and I kid you not, a cuddly bear stall with uniformed bears. Perhaps there was a subtle message there for fans of the latest reformed ibrox domiciled franchise?

Meanwhile, in this part of the world, it’s groundhog day for dummies.

I used the phrase “Taig baiting” deliberately. My view of the whole thing is that much of the purpose of the day is not about defining who and what the British minority in Ireland are, and what they are for but rather what they are against and how they will defend that position. It is no accident that much of the display at this time of year is quasi militaristic in nature and the message is unambiguous.

The message is simple, we will defend our position by force of arms if necessary.

Hmmm, not exactly a unionist outreach strategy is it?

Regarding the flags, a couple of estates in Bangor are festooned with the usual paramilitary reminders, the Stormont standard, upside down union flags, union flags flown below the paramilitary ones etc. Thnkfully, the town centre is free of flags this year, no doubt in exchange for council funding. An interesting civic responsibility policy?

As for the Flags? Suffice to say they are a symbol, often used by those who lack confidence in their opinions or feel their beliefs are under threat. They are important in that sense as they often give voice to people who lack the ability to articulate their views and are unwilling or unable to argue that point of view in a conventional way by engaging in argument and persuasion their perceived “opponents”

Flags shouldn’t be like that, they should be a symbol of unity, not domination, pride, not supremacy, identity, not hatred of neighbours, confidence, not hubris.

It is unfortunate if any group of people identify themselves by what they are not.

Just this week, the Orange Order couldn’t bring themselves to include an Irish national flag in their new museum reflecting their “south of the border” members, although the place was  funded by Irish taxpayers to the tune of €700,000. Is anyone surprised?

Personally, I’d enjoy a few pints with Enda Kenny and a few home truths might be thrown in instead of the customary crisps regarding funding these bigots. Mind you, He’s from Mayo and those boys don’t tend to like us Dubs.

Meanwhile, the tour of the north (Which bits?) parade passed by St Patricks on Clifton St, actually observing the legal rulings regarding their behaviour, fantastic. Then one of the bands broke into the famed “Famine song” the second they had passed the determined point. This displayed the usual stunning lack of self awareness and knowledge of history for which such bands are renowned.

Still, this is progress of a sort, which, to borrow Séamus Heaneys phrase, drips slow in these parts.

One day, political unionism will have to cut clean and tell its followers the truth. The truth is that unionism is a minority, not just in Ireland but in this region also now. If the myth of superiority, supremacism and hubris is not challenged, the shock to the mindset of the British people in Ireland will be all the greater.

Meanwhile, in sunny Bangor, the pretence that all is as it was may go on. Although it has the oldest age demographic in the North, the symbolism of marching the youngest and most impressionable Bangorians off the end of the pier in the service of an army responsible for the murder of many, many citizens in Ireland, under the guise of a “festival” here left me a little cold.

Remember, on this day that the Irish people make a decision on their constitution, that many on this island have no vote. That must change

This is a very short post.

I think my point is made in the title.

It is essentially about a democratic deficit upon which principle, of course, the northern statelet was founded. Unlike some, I trust the people to come to a sensible decision. My own opinion is simply that I have no right to inflict my opinions, political, sexual or marital upon others. I’m a Yes Man.

In other news, the Stormont (6) county council is heading for collapse. Again.

Perhaps it’s time for a rethink? The only alternative game in town is Joint Authority.

Fermanagh South Tyrone – Whatever Next?

A guest blog by KenFerm

Ferm ST Result 2015

It is with no pleasure that I must say that whilst I was disappointed, I was not surprised, that FST was lost to nationalism, with Unionism once again donning the triumphant cloak of righteous entitlement.

The outcome was always on the cards given the dynamic being played out at home, hearth and meeting place.Dreary Steeples

Human nature being what it is, hope swirled expectantly in hearts even though the cool mind said otherwise. It’s still a bitter, hard pill.

A number of factors combined the last time that enabled Michelle to grab the seat, and a number of factors combined this time to reverse the position.

The dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone still stand proud and strong, the mist has swirled and, for now, cast an orange glow……  until the next time.  All Change and No Change.

The factors that combined in 2010 were:

  • Michelle was popular, with a high profile and seen as an effective Agriculture minister with a human touch
  • Soft SDLP voters were able to vote for her without too many qualms,
  • She didn’t raise the hackles of some unionists, with some farming unionists, perhaps being open to support her given what she achieved as minister.
  • The unionist candidate was an unknown, and gave the appearance, however cruelly of being a lightweight but with a pro-union rosette pinned onto his lapel. That went down badly with a number of unionist voters.
  • The SDLP candidate was centrally imposed and regarded as an outsider. This backfired and made it easier for SDLP voters to switch to the candidate with a chance of winning.

I would argue the factors this time that combined were:

  • The unionist vote was more energised, given the closeness of the previous vote, and the delight of nationalists upon winning. It stuck in their craw and was an extra motivating element.
  • The feeling amongst unionists this was a last stand pivotal moment, lose now and lose forever.
  • Tom is high profile, well known and with little, if any, negative connotations for unionists.
  • John was a local SDLP candidate and could be expected to maintain the rump SDLP vote, given the debacle of the previous imposition. These are people who cannot bring themselves to vote for the ‘dirty Shinners’. The SDLP vote was not going to collapse.
  • Michelle is likeable, well regarded but had a much lower profile, certainly in her first number of years as MP, with little to point to on delivery and with a lack of a campaigning focus.
  • Politics, as in many rural places, can be personal and the lack of persistent visibility told.
  • SF relied on demographic change to provide a buffer, a false dawn that sapped their focus.
  • Since 2010 a large number of young voters have left for pastures new, near and far afield.
  • Emigration combined with a lack of a jobs drive & inward investment paid dividends for the unionists.
  • There is a significant number of ‘traditional republicans’ who did not, and will not, vote for SF now. These are less ‘dissidents’ but rather voters who feel betrayed by SF and have mostly walked away from politics. South Fermanagh would have quite a number of such voters. It crosses families, friendships and such feelings are now bitter & deeply held. SF typically reacts as a stung porcupine rather than engaging, reaching out. It compounds the issue for the future.
  • There are also ordinary nationalists who have simply switched off from politics, the squabbles and the apparent pettiness.

The electoral cycle turns and the dreary steeples shall remain unbowed, waiting for the next chapter of our placid yet deeply earnest contest.

The next contest for this Westminster seat starts now. The clock is ticking for Tom.

The campaign must start with an honest and detailed look at the underlying reasons behind the voting pattern & turnout.

The defeat can in turn be a motivating factor for nationalists; any misstep on fair play, equality, and triumphalism should be noted and stored for later use.

Engage, with honesty, voters in all their complexity, building consensus and alliances, across the broad range of nationalist opinion.

Campaign relentlessly on local issues, be seen to deliver on local needs and to offer hope and a desire to expect better.

Some other points that I think are worth mentioning.

With a Tory majority there will be a boundary commission that will recast the number and boundaries of constituencies. The realignment will not be kind to nationalism. It is in the common interests of Unionism and the Tories to ‘finesse’ the outcome.

Both SF and SDLP should or more importantly, need, to work together to counter this common threat. SF must not be tempted to play the ‘bash SDLP’ card. The Westminster boundaries and number of NI seats will determine the future shape of the Assembly. It was a strategic mistake to agree in a reduction of MLA’s per constituency before the review was concluded. SF’s over-riding objective should be to maximise the nationalist number of MLAs not just their own numbers. Both parties need to work together, on closely detailed policy and effective number crunching to ensure the best result for nationalism (and both parties).

With an English Tory majority, we now have English rule. An English rule that is harsh, right-wing and tied to a neo-con agenda. The Irish are naturally fair-minded, socially responsible with a desire for social solidarity.

It is an opportunity to shape opinion and sentiment.

The union has so far failed and will continue to fail all of us.

We deserve a better future.

Vote Early, Vote often

We are on the eve of the next election afflicting (sic) the long suffering voters of this part of Ireland.

We have a choice between the ballygobackwardsmen of the DUP and TUV, TV (Doesn’t like pacts) Mike,  Al (turn out the lights) McDonnell, the “Ginger Ninja” herself, Naomi and the Shinnisters.

I’ll be doing an all-nighter tomorrow. I am supremely indifferent to who the next English PM is although I will enjoy seeing how the SNP and Plaid Cymru do. What I’m interested in is the following:

Fermanagh South Tyrone

Upper Bann

East Belfast

North Belfast

South Belfast

South Antrim

In my humble opinion these are the only seats with a degree of uncertainty.

The key thing from a nationalist perspective is to get the vote out. I noted with interest the North Belfast SF leaflet highlighting the census results. It was clumsily done but the reaction it provoked was very revealing. Perhaps Unionism should have put a sock over it’s Achilles heel?

Madness in May part 4…… How shaky is Nationalism?

Here is the final part of Faha’s analysis for this weeks election  

Nationalist Constituencies- The Seats in Contention

This review covers the 4 nationalist seats where there is a possibility that the incumbent could lose the election. I will discuss them in the order of likelihood that there could be a change.

Fermanagh South Tyrone

West May FST

This seat could be lost by SF for several reasons. The most obvious is the unionist electoral pact with the UUP candidate Tom Elliot the only unionist candidate. If you look at the combined nationalist vote in the 2014 council elections it was 23083 (52.75%). The combined unionist vote was 20206 (46.2%). These totals reflect the vote in the DEA’s. However, the figures would not have been the same if a Westminster election had been held the same day. There is a small section of the Killyman ward that is in the new Armagh-Banbridge –Craigavon council which is entirely unionist and there are 400 unionist votes there. There is also a small section of the Dungannon DEA that is in the Mid Ulster Westminster constituency which is almost entirely nationalist and there are 400 nationalist votes there. So the actual vote within the Fermanagh South Tyrone Westminster boundaries would have been 22700 for nationalist parties and 20600 for unionist parties. Another major factor is that EU nationals are not eligible to vote in Westminster elections. There are over 3000 EU nationals who were on the district council electoral register but not on the Westminster electoral register. While it is unknown how many of those voted in 2014 it is likely if those voters were excluded for a Westminster election the total nationalist vote would have been less than 22000. This indicates that SF will lose this seat unless there is a large increase in nationalist turnout. The 2014 vote indicates that there is barely a 1000 nationalist plurality over the total unionist vote for a Westminster election. SF faces an uphill battle to retain this seat. The SDLP vote would have to collapse to 1000 from 3574 in 2010 and the Green Party would need to attract very few nationalist voters. Furthermore the 3500 voters who voted for dissident and independent republicans in 2014 would all have to turn out and vote for SF. The nationalist turnout was only 53% in 2014 while the unionist was 63%. Despite the fact that there are over 46,000 Catholics of voting age and only 31700 Protestants of voting age the UUP could win due to these factors. This would be a major upset victory for the UUP and if the Westminster election had been held the same day as the council elections in 2014 with the 2015 candidates the UUP would have won. This analysis is heavily based on the 2014 council election turnout. If SF increases the nationalist turnout by only 3% they would receive an additional 1300 votes which would be enough to win the election. Nationalist voters are also aware that Michelle Gildernew won by only 4 votes in 2010 and this is likely to increase nationalist turnout. Tom Elliot is also a more polarizing candidate than Rodney Connor and that could increase nationalist turnout also.

South Belfast

West May SB

The SDLP would have lost this seat to the DUP if the election had been held the same day as the 2014 council elections. The DUP vote was 800 more than the SDLP vote and the SDLP vote was even less than the Alliance vote. The poor SDLP vote was due to low nationalist voter turnout in the Botanic and Lisnasharragh DEA’s. The nationalist voter turnout was actually higher than the unionist turnout in the Balmoral and Castlereagh South DEA’s. The fate of Alasdair McDonnell will be determined by nationalist turnout. One factor in his favour is that there may be tactical voting for the SDLP from Alliance voters. The Alliance Party is certainly upset that the DUP and UUP have ganged up on Naomi Long in East Belfast and some Alliance voters may be angry enough about the DUP-UUP electoral pact to vote SDLP to prevent Jonathan Bell from winning here.


West May Foyle

This could be a closer than usual election between the SDLP and SF. In the 2014 council elections the SF vote exceeded the SDLP vote by 600, the first election in which this has occurred. Mark Durkan should still win the election for several reasons. He has the advantage on incumbency and constituency work. There is a large vote for independent nationalists in Foyle and transfer patterns in the past indicate that more of this vote goes to the SDLP and SF. There is a large amount of tactical voting for the SDLP in Westminster elections. In previous elections approximately 20% of Alliance and unionist voters vote for the SDLP. Mark Durkan should win this election though it could be with a reduced majority.

Newry and Armagh

West May Nwry A

This constituency is interesting for several reasons, including the unexpected unionist electoral pact and the SDLP choosing a high profile candidate in Justin McNulty. It is not clear why the UUP and DUP decided on a pact here. The total unionist vote is less than 34%. Not all DUP voters will turn out to vote for the UUP and with an increasing nationalist electorate due to demographic changes the total unionist vote could be 32% or less. Even if the nationalist vote was evenly divided the UUP would not win. There has been a decline of 3000 votes each for the SDLP and SF since the 2005 Westminster election. Nationalist turnout is likely to be higher in this election. The Northern Ireland NHS review by Dr. Liam Donaldson has recommended reducing the number of acute care hospitals from 10 to only 4. Daisy Hill Hospital in one that could be downsized or closed so there is likely to be an increased turnout to save the hospital. This could be a close election but the SDLP would need some tactical unionist votes to win and it is unclear if those votes exist to any extent.

The British Election and making the case for a United Ireland

A Guest post by Sammy McNally

Quite how many people in Northern Ireland would prefer a United Ireland remains open to debate and as the decision on the need for a referendum lies with Theresa Villiers (the Viceroy) and as she currently has no plans to hold one, we are unlikely to find out anytime soon.

In the wake of the review of the (disappointing) census results, when the subject last enjoyed a period of public debate in Northern Ireland, SF took a bit of a beating when they tried to push the case for a referendum, with Unionists gleefully enquiring of SF whether they expected Northern Nationalists to vote for the Southern Health service.  Unionists had a point – and SF seem to have retreated quietly in some disarray to re-think their strategy.

The problem for SF was that FF had managed to almost bankrupt the Southern state with gombeenery, trousering, planning abuse and the encouragement of reckless speculation to the extent that one Irish Trade Unionist was moved to remark  – that the  Irish government had caused more economic damage than had been done by the British Government over hundreds of years. Nor could you anyway (at that point) have sold the case for land expansion to the electorate of the South who were being force fed austerity much worse than the Tory austerity being digesting by their fellow countrymen just across the border.

Britain remains the 5th (IMF 2014 Wiki) richest country in the world and if we wish to make the case for re-claiming the 4th Green Field we need to fight that battle on terrain that suits us – and that does not include trying to suggest Northern Nationalists would be better off economically in a United Ireland. Something that may, or perhaps more likely, may not, be the case.

The terrain that suits us better is clear however  when we look across the Irish Sea at the current election campaign underway in Britain and there we can see where the true strength of the case for Irish Unity lies.

There are of course many values that bind Britain and Ireland together but in many other respects we simply see the world differently – and this is particularly clearly illustrated when it comes to matters concerning foreign policy and membership of the EU.  We can also see the case for a united Ireland very clearly when we look at potential British coalition governments lining up Ulster unionist coalition partners (the DUP).A coalition that would not be in the best interests of good Ulster community relations or political stability in Ireland.

In the election campaign, the post military intervention shambles that is Libya, has raised its head, as thousands from Libya and neighbouring countries use the country as a departure point for their hazardous escape to Europe.

Mr Farage, who opposed military intervention, is supported (hypocritically) by Mr Miliband who favoured intervention in (correctly) pointing the finger at Mr Cameron for being at least partly responsible for the unfolding humanitarian crisis.  (You have got to be concerned when Mr Farage appears to be Mr Reasonable on matters of British foreign affairs.)

As the British people worry over young muslims departing to fight for ISIS and worry more about them returning to wreak havoc and mayhem on the streets of Britain, very few seem to want to see the link between their foreign policy and the threat from within. A threat which ex MI5 boss Stella Rimington reminded Tony Blair of

“So I think you can’t write the war in Iraq out of history. If what we’re looking at is groups of disaffected young men born in this country who turn to terrorism, then I think to ignore the effect of the war in Iraq is misleading.”

I suspect MI5 have been told that such utterances were both unhelpful and embarrassing by Cameron, but these are cautionary words that still hadn’t been taken on board by the British PM when he was seeking support for military intervention in Syria – and we can only imagine how much more dangerous Britain and elsewhere would be if ISIS had been given a (further) leg up in Syria as well as Iraq and Libya.

The British have been involved with a series of campaigns that might be generously described as not in the best interests of world peace.  Campaigns begun under Blair and continued under Cameron, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and (covertly) Syria. These campaigns could not be described as consistent with Ireland’s policy of neutrality but (insultingly) they do so with so-called ‘Irish’ regiments and with the involvement of Green Field Number 4.  (Surely it is time for the Irish government to formally request the renaming of these regiments.)

This is not to suggest that we debate the issue solely in terms of Perfidious Albion versus Immaculata Hibernia but rather to highlight the difference in values between our two countries – values that have been moulded by the different experiences of sitting on either side of the colonial divide for centuries.

Back in January, the DUP accused Ms Villiers of breaking her word on the setting up of a parade ‘panel’ which the DUP believed would be of assistance to Orange Order. This is the same DUP that a Tory Government might find itself reliant on to keep itself in power.

Of course the DUP have made (some of) their demands for support of any future government public, but anyone with a modicum of understanding of Ulster politics will know that privately it will be made clear to Davey Cameron that the ‘panel’ (or other mechanism) to review the controversial parade will now be required. We can also be sure that such a (DUP inspired) ‘panel’ will decide that Orangemen will get their way to complete their parade in North Belfast. It is difficult to think of a more inflammable scenario, not only will ‘loyalists’ be delighted but the various Republican ‘dissers’ groups may well have their recruitment officers working overtime to deal with the surge in applications as the ‘Orange card’ is replayed by a Tory government.

If anyone thinks the British government is not stupid enough to risk upsetting the political stability in Ireland, just take a look at what is happening in Iraq or at the boats struggling to cross the Mediterranean.

Of course none of these Irish concerns have even entered the political debate in Britain(so far), nor have any concerns regarding the implications of Britain leaving the EU and taking Green Field Number 4 with it, nor have the implications of “protecting UK borders”, as the DUP puts it, in its election manifesto. (Any border posts springing up as a result of Britain’s exit from the EU, may well need some sort of “protection” for her Majesty’s staff and as history tells us that type of imposition does not does not tend to go down well with the locals in border areas.)

The British of course will put the interests of their country first and so should we in Ireland by pushing the case for a United country, not only for cultural and social reasons but also to avoid Ulster’s involvement in dangerous British political horse-trading and because, whatever the right and wrongs of British attitudes to the EU and military intervention, the views the British hold on these matters are markedly different from our own.

Madness in May part 3 – The Union may be a little shakier

Part 3 of Faha’s series continues. I’d also recommend a read of this article here from The Detail which tells us what we all know numbers-wise but has some interesting analysis and terrific graphics as well as some home truths for the Unionist parties, specially on the day they trooped through the lobbies opposing gay marriage. (incidentally where were the SDLP?) – BD

Nationalist Constituencies- The Safe Seats  

This review covers the 4 nationalist seats where the outcome is not expected to change compared to the 2010 election.

West Tyrone:

West May WT

Pat Doherty should easily win this seat for SF. The only point of interest here will be the proportion of the vote that the SDLP, UUP and DUP receive and whether there is any change in the relative strength of the vote among these parties.

Mid Ulster:

West May MU

Francie Molloy should easily win this seat for SF. The only thing to watch here is to see if the SDLP can increase their vote and the relative strength of the unionist parties.

West Belfast:

West May WB

Paul Maskey will easily win this seat for SF. However, the vote in this constituency is very important because of the Assembly implications. The total unionist vote was 16% in the 2014 council elections and based on that percentage the DUP would win an Assembly seat at the expense of SF. The SF vote declined by 6000 compared to the 2011 Assembly election while the unionist vote increased by 800. The total nationalist vote was down by almost 6000 indicating that there must be significant dissatisfaction among traditional SF voters who stayed home in large numbers. Since the total SF percentage was only 55.9% SF would lose one of their 5 Assembly seats (57.2% equals 4 quotas). Since the DUP would win one the final seat would be won by either the SDLP or PBPA. So the Westminster vote has significant implications for the 2016 Assembly election.

South Down:

West May SD

Margaret Ritchie will easily win this seat for the SDLP. The vote totals will have implications for the Assembly election. The DUP polled only slightly above UKIP in the 2014 council elections. Since then there have been moves to close wards at Downe Hospital, threatening a future possible hospital closure. This is occurring under the DUP Health Minister Jim Wells. Follow the DUP vote here to see if the DUP Assembly seat could be lost to either UKIP or the SDLP.


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