Fianna Fail have been very vociferous in recent times about things North of the border. Most of it revolves around criticism of Sinn Fein and the governance of the Stormont regime in general. They have been organising Cumman, notably in QUB and Derry. Micheál Martin, the Party Leader, seems to be rediscovering the party’s Republican roots and testing the water for a move into party politics up North.
Or is he?
So I decided to delve a little deeper into the recent Fianna Fail commitment to the North, actual commitment that is, not rhetoric. I had a good read of their current Policy Document here. Fascinating document to be honest. There’s 30 pages of policies ! Great stuff. Except the first 8 are all about telling us how wonderful they were until they lost power in the last election. On the North? Well we have ONE paragraph in those eight pages.
” Achieved Peace in Northern Ireland
“Overseen”. Quite. “Achieved Peace”. Right so.
On I read, twice, in case I missed something. Guess what?
Precisely nothing. Zilch. Nada. Zero.
So we have a “Republican” party organising on an All Ireland basis with absolutely no policies for six of the counties it aspires to govern.
Two words Micheál Martin: “Wise up”.
In times past there was a perception that certain Irish political leaders had a tendency to “‘doff the cap” or “tug the forelock” to their betters. There are phrases that encapsulate such attitudes. “Castle Catholics”etc.
In recent years Ireland has regained a certain self confidence. Our people have proved themselves as educated, eloquent and intelligent. In fact we have established ourselves as European leaders in business and industry. We have moved into the top 10 world countries in terms of income, living standards and quality of life. We did well but mistakes were made. Thanks to an insane bank lending policy and Government fiscal drunkeness, we fecked it all up. Except not entirely. Our economy faltered badly. Unemployment went through the roof, but you know what? We are still much better off than we were ten years ago and compared to the Northern 6 eastern counties we are light years ahead economically. Ironic given that the Irish economy was largely industrial based and focussed around Belfast 100 years ago. As an Island, our economic strength now is based upon knowledge, education and transferrable skills.
The economic future for the North lies, not with low wage call centres or disappearing engineering jobs but with high economic value added jobs and supporting service industries. In other words, not with Tesco but with Google.
The call centres will keep retraining their ever turnoving and mostly student staff, why? because they get a payout from Invest NI every time they do. NOT because they are investing in their staff. I am in the midst of putting together an analysis of this.
The Supermarkets are expanding at a rapid rate. Each with a huge job announcement and a smiling, pin striped Politician. What happens next? The jobs are low wage. The local butchers, the greengrocers, the Bakery all close down. The town slowly dies, it’s social fabric collapses and we are all the poorer. The same can be said for the Pubs regarding the cheap drink although I would rather spend my £3 in my local, not for the liquid in the glass but for the uniqueness of my Publican, the quality of the conversation in his bar, the watching of a match with the company and comments that surround me and the very real recognition that I am actually valued as a customer.
I can’t better Oscar Wilde’s words about Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing
Meanwhile, Enda Doff’s the cap when Angela say’s she won’t budge on a retrospective legacy debt deal today. Two words come to mind which I’ll not repeat here
For those of you who think you don’t speak Irish or, like me, do it very badly, perhaps you should listen to this.
Linda Irvine, wife of the late David Irvine, speaks this morning about the Irish Language and it’s history and legacy, particularly in Belfast. She then expands her presentation to include the present development and education of the Language. Her point is that Irish belongs to all of us.
I couldn’t agree more.
Over the past 24 hours we have seen the burning out of a Catholic family from their home in Newtownards and the arrest of 14 bandsmen belonging to the Loyalist band previously referred to here that were responsible for the disgraceful scenes outside a Catholic Church in Belfast. It is heartening to see Linda Irvine project a positive, confident image of Loyalism in such circumstances.
The comments of Billy Hutchinson at the PUP conference are also commendable,”Because I talk or negotiate with a republican doesn’t make me any less British or loyalist.”
That quote lays bare the ignorance of the Loyal Orders and, before them, the Politicians, that believe talking is a weakness.
The interesting thing for me is the degree of prominence accorded to some of these parties in the mainstream media, particularly BBC and UTV. There seems to be a policy of inviting a Unionist (Generally DUP), a Nationalist (Usually SF) and a “piggy in the middle” (Usually Alliance).
Over the two most recent elections, The 2011 Assembly and Local Govt votes, party strengths were as follows:
So lets now look at the makeup of the panels on prominent local TV discussion panels this week:
UTV Tonight: SF and DUP only
BBC Spotlight: SF, DUP and Alliance
Hmmm, so my questions are: Do parties 1, 2 and 5 get the lions share of media coverage in the Mainstream outlets here? Is that a matter of policy? Is it fair to the other parties? Will this obvious imbalance impact on future voter behaviour? Will this further polarise support along sectarian lines and reinforce the power base of SF and the DUP? Why Alliance practically every time?
I enjoy a good old bun fight as well as the next person but when every discussion is reduced to the same bunfight……well you get the picture.
Unionist and loyalist
- Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
- Progressive Unionist Party (PUP)
- Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV)
- Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)
- United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)
Nationalist and republican
- Fianna Fáil (FF)
- Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP)
- Sinn Féin (SF)
- Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP)
- 32 County Sovereignty Movement (32CSM)
- Workers’ Party of Ireland (WPI)
A Friday night song for you all.
Today, a Kenyan court ruled that three members of the Mau Mau group that fought against British Colonialism in the 1950’s, and were tortured and mutilated as a consequence, had the right to sue the British Government.
The defence of the British Government is that “all liabilities for the torture by colonial authorities were transferred to the Kenyan Republic upon independence in 1963 and that it could not be held liable now.” Breathtaking.
This all happened at the tail end of the days of the British Empire. An empire that was responsible for creating some of the most intractable wars, conflicts and inter ethnic disputes in History. An empire that with breathtaking arrogance, fostered divisions and Religious extremes in order to exert control. An empire that exploited and impoverished many peoples. An empire that believed in it’s own superiority to such an extent that it believed itself above any natural humanitarian law. An empire that believed blindly in its civilising influence but was, in fact, a force for the destruction of civilisations that had existed long before it had itself, existed. Familiar?
Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, India/Pakistan, Sudan, Cyprus, Yemen to name a few. I wonder what they all have in common?
There’s another place too. I’ll let the music speak for itself
For those History buffs among you this is fascinating, the Diary of Mary Martin has just been released online by Trinity College Dublin.
The section covering Easter Week 1916 is particularly interesting.
“Mary Martin’s Diary, 1 January – 25 May 1916 is an online scholarly edition of the Diary of Mary Martin, a widow and mother of twelve children, living in the affluent Dublin suburb of Monkstown.
Mary wrote the diary to her son Charlie, a soldier with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who went missing in action on the Salonika front, in the hope that one day he would return home and be able to read it.
Set against the backdrop of the Easter Rising and the First World War, the diary chronicles the daily activities of Mary, her family, friends and relatives”
The events of the last few days have revealed much of the mindset of Unionism and the relationships between Unionists and Nationalists in this small corner of this Island.
My last post includes some comments by Orangemen who challenged the presence of the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, at their commemoration of the 1912 Ulster Covenant. That is a welcome development. The man is an anachronism and an embarrasment as well as not the brightest student of History I have ever encountered.
Unionism has always thrived upon a certain sense of historical superiority and a belief in it’s inherent right to govern. That day is long gone. The people of Ireland, including those of Unionist inclination, have reclaimed the right to self determination. Home Rule actually. The irony of celebrating 1912, which was of course, a threatened rebellion, led by a Dubliner who was opposed to home rule, is not lost on me.
We are now in a situation where Unionist anger is directed at the Parades commission or at Nationalists who object to Unionist flouting of the law.
Ironic I think, given that the the whole 1912 scenario was about challenging the legitimacy of the British Governments writ as well as the democratic will of the Irish People. Am I wrong?
The engagement last night here was very enlightening. Unlike other certain places, it was intelligent, interesting and informative. Thanks, to all who contributed