I haven’t stopped blogging on the stats. They are my major area of interest and, due to the establishment of the northern six county statelet being founded upon that basis those stats will continue to be my focus until they are irrelevant. Hopefully soon! I recently read Mrs Bangordub’s A level history papers from a considerable time ago. They got me thinking.
I thought it may be interesting in the meantime to blog on a recurring theme which is, the unerring ability of Unionists to shoot themselves in the foot on the PR front, time and time again.
There are many examples of this throughout the short history of the North since partition. I believe this is best examined from three perspectives:
1. The Internal View.
Nationalists in Northern Ireland reacted to partition not with violence but primarily by keeping their heads down and their powder dry. Despite the sectarian rhetoric of those like Craigavon and Brookborough they stuck to basic principles such as equality and fairness. It got them absolutely nowhere. The Border campaign of the 1950’s was a southern initiative which achieved little other than a few martyrs. The behaviour, words and actions of southern politicians was frankly disgraceful. It reinforced the sense of abandonment and alienation felt by many north of the border. When those same issues came to a boil in the 1960’s it led to the civil rights movement and consequently the series of events that led to the GFA.
Unionism, on the other hand, resisted any change whatsoever. When presented with the opportunity to extend a hand of partnership by Terence O’Neill, rejected it. Unionists chose the uncompromising road exemplified by the Ian Paisley of those days. It chose the rhetoric of “no surrender” and “not an inch”. It ended up losing many miles both in PR terms and in actual political power terms. Stormont, the “Protestant parliament for a protestant people was prorogued” That was the end of days but nobody told them. They still fly the flag of the old stormont parliament believing it to be a flag of Ulster. Nobody has told them the truth yet.
The External view.
Simple this in my view. Whatever side of the fence you are on you are viewed as Irish by others if you are north of the , eh, border. Ironic in a way as I am always intrigued by the comments by those of a unionist persuasion that various things are “Irish”. The thought occurs to me as to how the “british” in Ireland view themselves. The English certainly them as Irish regardless. Personally I believe everyone has a right to view their own nationality in their own terms but, for me, it must be difficult to be viewed in seperate terms by those whom you most wish to be accepted by. The relevant term, I believe, is called cognative dissonance. Hence the bowler hats and pin striped suits so beloved of certain unionists. Hence the recent opportunistic alliances with extreme right wing British political parties.
The Southern View.
I have mentioned this above but I will say it again. We “Free Staters” have a lot to answer for. My Dad was from Armagh. My Mum was from Tipperary. They disagreed on many things but they agreed on one. Post 1921 there was a disconnect with the Nationalist people in the northern six counties. That was an abandonment of a democratic vote and a capitulation to the threat of force, specifically by the UVF. That same UVF had a commemoration this weekend in Belfast. An opportunity missed, yet again, for loyalists to engage and make themselves relevant. They banned and expelled journalists from covering the events. Southerners see Holy Cross, they see the triumphalist marches, they see the coat trailing and they see the bigotry. If you really want southerners to have nothing to do with you as unionists, it is working. It is also having the same effect on the rest of the world including decent British people.
So. In my view the way forward is simple. I, as a republican, would love to see the British Unionist minority in the north join me for a pint and a chat about the way forward. Is that a mad request?