Unionist Outreach RIP

When a LetsGetAlongerist discussion board /weblog spends most of its time in a futile search for nationalist unicorns, it can hardly be surprising that it is enthusiastic  about Mike Nesbitt and Peter Robinson reaching out to pro-union Catholics. Alas Unionist Outreach was strangled at birth by its parents. The naked sectarianism in last years marching season and of course the Flegs dispute makes any debate over Unionist Outrach totally risible.

To those of us who recall Terence O ‘Neills Unionist Outreach  in the 1960s it was all inevitable. Unionist Outreach was always nonsense. Unionist Outreach RIP.

LetsGetAlongerists will abandon Nesbitt and Robinson and rally round Basil McCrea and John McCallister. Although the McUnionists seem a bit lethargic. They need a good lobbying company. Any ideas?

As a parting shot to Catholics….Peter Robinson has urged people not to read the Irish News, Norn Irons main daily newspaper and the newspaper of choice of Norn Irons Catholics. Wherever Robbo intends to reach out …it will not be in the pages of the Irish News.

If I was Noel Doran…and I’m not….I would actually use the Robbo quote in my advertising. It would surely increase circulation. Indeed if I wasn’t boycotting newspapers because of Leveson revelations, I would be tempted to buy the Irish News.

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60 Responses to Unionist Outreach RIP

  1. “When a LetsGetAlongerist discussion board /weblog spends most of its time in a futile search for nationalist unicorns”

    Pretty much goes right over your head, doesn’t it John?

    • Hi Mick. Glad you could take time away from writing James Kellys obituary on Slugger to comment here.
      Ah Terence O’Neill…you really had to be there.
      Just six weeks ago, I was saying (at international level) that a unionist selling Britishness had three trump cards fifty years ago…NHS, Welfare and Education. And that they never dealt with Housing and Jobs…or Flags and Emblems (symbolism).
      A unionist in 21st century now has five…Jobs and Housing dealt with …and only emblems left.
      A pretty good analysis, youd probably say.
      The important thing is that in the wider freemasonry of blogging, we are much admired….even by each other on occasions.

  2. hoboroad says:

    Well it look like a decision on Corporation Tax being devolved here is off the cards at least until the 19th of September 2014.

  3. Mick says:

    I don’t think it’s going to be that convenient. DUP are getting on with stuff, Gerry’s doing okay down in the Republic. And Alliance are doing nicely dealing with bits Peter and Martin can’t agree on.

    Its all going to end is just another ‘coping mechanism’ I’m afraid… This is what we voted for, this is what we have. How dare we complain!!

    Of course, there’s always events dear boy…

    • Oh I love “Events”. There is an event out there with our name on it.

    • “Alliance doing nicely” ….that would be 1.3% in Mid Ulster wouldn’t it?
      Yes they are doing brilliantly…well worth the Rowntree money have lavished on them.

    • ‘DUP are getting on with stuff, Gerry’s doing okay down in the Republic. And Alliance are doing nicely dealing with bits Peter and Martin can’t agree on.’

      1. What are the DUP ‘getting on with’ cos from down herein QLD it looks like sweet fa.

      2. APNI are doing nicely… I laughed at that too.

  4. Downsizing the Housing Executive and hiving off their major functions to five large housing associations. The Health Minister is now rolling out a major reorganisation of primary care. Fair does to Attwood who is barely in the door at Environment but making a decent fist of things.

    Sinn Fein? Well, you tell me? According to Patsy McGlone, Ms O’Neill was reportedly asked at a farmers meeting in south Derry what breed of cattle is black and white and she was unable to answer.

    John O’Dowd’s performance on the Sunday Politics show was an abysmal cat and mouse game with him evading questions about his plans to get the school estate down. He doesn’t have a policy of his own. He’s asking schools to bid for their own mergers and redundancies.

    As Alan in Belfast pointed out (http://goo.gl/d1GpI) research suggests that whilst unionist voters attach some importance to policy and performance, nationalist voters, on the whole, do not.

    I suspect this arises from the choices they are being given as much as any other factor. For instance, Michael McGimpsey’s decision to abandon plans for the Oncology clinic in Derry lost his party Protestant sentiment in North Antrim for instance.

    If the SDLP are serious about hauling back SF’s majority status within northern nationalism, they need to make policy relevant to the lives of nationalist voters, simple as.

    As the only one of the bigger parties to actually possess an appeal across religious boundaries (despite the efforts of our host to retrench them as a SF Nua), this makes sense in terms of moving the overall national project forward.

    • “if the SDLP are serious about hauling back Sinn Feins majority they need to….”

      Listen to yourself Mick.
      This website is unashamedly pan nationalist and will happily analyse things against that background….a move in the direction of Irish unity.
      Your website is hardly pan nationalist…but presumes to advise nationalism…on how it can become liberal unionist/LetsGetAlongerist.
      Your regular correspondent Dimbleby is always saying what nationalism should do. But I don’t think he is a nationalist and I don’t think there will ever come a point where he will vote for SDLP or SF…unless of course they become unionist. Why would a nationalist put any credibility in that?
      Two weeks ago Dimbleby was offering advice to the Catholic Church. Again, at what point does he say that he is becoming a Catholic…not very likely that the Catholic Church will change enough for him.
      And finally he has been telling Scots what they should be doing. At what point will he become Scottish?

      “Efforts of our host”
      Really Mick…take a look at your own agenda.

    • Really? We’re going on interviews, is that thee best you’ve got? Listen to yourself Mick, ministers being unable to tell you the names of different cows! No one cares, so long as they’re getting the job done. If that’s the best you can come up with you really are only feeding that rep of bias you’ve gained and I and others will continue to pour scorn on everything that comes from Bullshit Mountain.

      I do see the new commentator FDM is taking Dumbleby to the cleaners on your thread of O’Neill revisionism btw, good on him.

  5. John,

    Your site, your rules, but if you don’t mind me saying, that’s bunkum. If I asked you to draw a straight line between where we are now and a United Ireland, could you?

    Pan nationalist or not, I suspect you have no more clue as to how a united Ireland might be achieved than Gerry Adams, or indeed myself. So I’ve no idea what grounds you have for objecting to others speaking about it.

    I started Slugger by looking into the future of Unionism. Why? Because it was my view at the time that the fledging peace process would crash and burn if they could envision their own credible and sustainable future.

    Ten years later, I’m coming to the view that it is Nationalism, or more specifically Irish Republicanism, that needs to revisit its own future.

    I’m not sure how that gets done, because the path, if anything is much tougher to imagine than the one facing unionism.

    As a first pass, I think it needs to:

    – distinguish between long term objectives and short term deliverables.

    – return to historic first bases in order to provide a broad, robust and modern definition of the values of Irish republicanism.

    – look for actionable ways of dealing with a conflicted past that do not undermine the political present.

    – respond to changing demographics and create a sustainable double mandate.

    Attractive as it may be, the war by other means trope will not work in peacetime. You don’t need a census to tell you that. A long term, and sustainable peacetime strategy needs to take its place.

    That an answer is not immediately obvious does not mean there isn’t one. It just means it will have to be worked for..

    • A totally reasonable point.
      In one form or another this is a struggle going on for 800 years.
      As long as both sides resist each other and are not seduced by letsgetalongerism there is always a hope that one can win.
      It’s this simple…both sides can’t win.
      I’d frankly rather it went on for another 800 years than be on the losing side.

    • And why does Nattionalism need to revisit its own future…to arrive at the destination that you want to go.

      “Re-visiting it’s own future”….sheesh inwhat LetsGetAlongerist handbook did you read that little phrase?

  6. Mick says:

    Revisit, a transitive verb meaning:

    1. to visit again
    2. to re-examine (a topic or theme) after an interval, with a view to making a fresh appraisal.

    (Free Dictionary)

    Having a viable sense of what the future holds is critical to the health of any political project. Nationalism ate out on a falsely projected future just after the GFA, and I sense from you and others that that false promise is causing people to drift from a settlement we’re all stuck with, whether we like it or not.

    If anything, since we are so far short of a united Ireland, the future matters more to nationalism than it does to unionism. Our cultural institutions, like the GAA and the IRFU, exude a great deal more confidence in the unity of the people argument expounded in Article 3 of An Bunreacht than any political project.

    In fact that’s where your idea of anti getalongerism is profoundly anti Republican. For SF, unity of the people will only flow from unification of the territory. Such a belief also drives other Reoublicans back to violence. Understandable, since it is essentially a soldiers view.

    However the Bunreacht says unification of the people must come first.

    That either means something to you, or it doesn’t. Like all forms of law, if it sparks no meaning in the hearts and minds of people politically it may as well not exist. In Nigeria for example, they have a federal law which is unenforceable in large tracts of the country. One reason why the Delta’s a mess and oil revenues are poorly distributed.

    Whatever, some form of clear eyed and purposeful revision is long overdue.

    • I signed up to Slugger O’Toole in January 2010 and I think for three years I have stated that the Good Friday Agreement was founded on Creative Ambiguity…a Lie.
      It cannot succeed.
      It was sold as copper fastening the union. Probably 53% of unionists went along with that.
      It was sold as leading to a united Ireland. Probably 93% of nationalists went along with that.
      One might be right.
      Both might be wrong.
      Both cannot be right.
      Probably it leads nowhere. It has been re-written, under-mined and key points (victims, Irish language, Bill of Rights etc) have not born pushed.
      Conflict Resolutionists…with an agenda…social engineering are the only people who really want to go beyond the Good Friday Agreement.
      I wouldn’t get too smug if I were you that nationalists got it wrong…things have ebbed and flowed during my lifetime. Indeed my case is that my grandchildren have been born into PASSIVITY as I was in 1952.
      I am ok with that. Passivity is enough.
      But I see no way that we can have a homogenous society without one side losing. Therefore far better to keep our hands on each others throats…politically…than loosen the grip. The side that loosens its grip is the loser.
      It’s hardly rocket science…and I’m not referring to Sheldon…but we will not have a peaceful Korean Peninsula until one side loses. Or a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.

      We have a homogenous…more or less…USA because Mexico, Confederacy and native Americans were defeated along with a bit of genocide. They are reciting the Pledge of Allegiance together in schools in Texas, Georgia and Sioux reservations.
      Nazi Germany…conflict resolution and de-nazification.
      South Vietnam…jungle camps re-education.
      South Africa…the end to apartheid and majority rule.
      The Cold War.
      Victory …Defeat.
      Any “solution” here…sadly …will be thru victory or defeat.
      And passivity works for me.
      Tolerate each other. Allow each other to think someday it will all be normal…our own kinda normal.
      Rightly or wrongly…that’s how most people want it.

      • factual says:

        “It was sold as copper fastening the union. Probably 53% of unionists went along with that. It was sold as leading to a united Ireland. Probably 93% of nationalists went along with that.”

        Not sure I’d agree that people thought either of those things. Rather, I think people saw it as a reasonable framework for politics to operate in.

  7. You are combining two things: the GFA itself, along with the legislation that it gave rise to in two jurisdictions; and how it was sold.

    The first is anything but ambiguous, the second, on the nationalist side, consists to two different stories.

    Hume’s line was that the GFA was a waystage on the road to an ‘agreed Ireland’; Adams that it was a waystage to a ‘united Ireland’.

    Now, you can subscribe to one or the other, or even both. But if you submit to passivity neither is likely to happen.

    I understand what you mean by the passivity of the 50s and 60s, but then look what it led to: murder, abduction, bombings and torture.

    The GFA did not make the world change. It was merely an opportunity to start again and give ourselves a future different to our heims of a past.

    We can take that opportunity, or not. I’m sure the gods are pretty indifferent to whichever one we choose.

    The world has changed around us. Ireland is no longer a second world country. If it doesn’t have power, it most certainly does have influence.

    It speaks on the larger stages of the world with more confidence and less of a chip on its shoulder than at anytime in modern history.

    Northern nationalism needs to reconnect with the south, with its heroic stories of resilience and hardship and struggle to regain its independence.

    SF are doing it in an overtly way, but there are others too.

    • Agreed Ireland and United Ireland.
      To an analyst there’s a difference. Not to a voter.
      It’s nuance..emphasis..rhetoric or sugar coating the pill for the sensitive.
      Rather like DUP UUP and Sluggers favourites McUnionists and Lliance is about nuance, emphasis, rhetoric and sugar coating.
      Bottom line….Ireland or Britain.

      • ‘Agreed Ireland and United Ireland.
        To an analyst there’s a difference. Not to a voter’

        I couldn’t agree more. Somewhat tangential but it reminds me of a subject while I studied evidence for my law degree called similar fact evidence. Basically, I can introduce evidence of previous convictions in a criminal case if they are sooo similar it can assist in showing a pattern. This evidence is only supposed to be introduced to show a pattern, not guilt, however the problem is that if I tell a jury of the previous misdemeanours of a defendant they have been known to ignore it as being mere evidence, not conclusive to this case, just showing a very particular pattern, and assign guilt straight away. Juries are asked to make a legal judgement, a rather subtle yet important call and they simply decide to ignore this call and replace it with the much easier moral judgement, something they’re much more comfortable with.

        The problem with Hume’s notion of an ‘Agreed Ireland’ when it comes up against Adams’ ‘United Ireland’ is that it is decidedly vague. This could be a strength in the right hands but with the current crop of SDLP pols since Hme stepped aside its obvious that they don’t know what an ‘Agreed Ireland’ means. Sure, they can talk the talk with political commentators but when they’re on my door step and I press them on this, the nuts and bolts, I get nothing but vague double speak thats deliberately bland and lifeless.

        As for Nats not bringing competency into consideration when voting, I think you’re actually missing the point. Nats know what the game is in the North, it was created with a sectarian headcount in mind and its existence merely confirms this analysis, see Nesbitt talking about unionism being synonymous with unionism, confirming someone like
        FDM’s acerbic observations on the term unionism being a mere fig leaf for Protestant nationalism. No one has laid a glove on him at the moment or his theory.

      • Yes I think unionists and nationalists flirt with the idea of letsgetalongerism.
        But it’s naive and/or insincere.
        I see no credibility in liberal unionists advocating if they are nice to Catholics, then those Catholics will simply give up nationalism and embrace the union.
        Nor is there any real credibility in nationalists such as SDLP thinking that being nice to unionists will make them embrace a unite Ireland.
        Any time unionists or nationalists such as UUP or SDLP move to the middle ground they merely lose some of their core vote to dup or Sinn Fein …or give credibility to the brand leader in letsgetalongerism…the alliance party.
        Certainly commenters on LetsGetAlongerist web sites and in the golden halo of conflict resolution will applaud the “vision” of uup or SDLP in reaching out but when the chips are down wont actually vote for them.

      • You know, for me, the crunch is when I actually ask some to answer a few straight questions with straight answers. I noted over at SOT that APNI still appears to be unionist with a small u as Alan had found himself tripping over disgruntled former UUP members and didn’t come across any former SDLP members.

        What did we see follow? Straw men arguments, personal attacks and taking my comments and believing I was querying what nationality they ascribe to (whenever did i do this, i’ll never know) yet not once did anyone who could be considered an APNI supporter ever try and tackle the points I raised in any meaningful way. The reason for this? Imho Our old friend creative ambiguity. Why tell everyone what you really think in terms which people will understand and in a manner where we have an idea of how this plays out in everyday life when we can say fairly inoffensive and bland sound bites to try and win soft votes.

        And let me be honest, when SDLP went all ‘post nationalist’ they lost Nat votes, who’d have thought it? Less of Davey Adams and more hard nosed politics a chara

      • My opinion on inviting Davey Adams to speak on the platform at the SDLP Annual Conference is well known. In fairness, these days SDLP is making a conscious effort to listen to it’s own members…to some extent that Conference 2010 I think…which included Rev Norman Hamilton, Duncan Morrow, Brian Hayes (FG), Mary Hanifin (FF) and a totally pathetic Joanne Tuffy (Irish Labour) was a low point…
        “Post-nationalism” I don’t take it seriously. It’s a buzz word in South Belfast, and strategy-speak. But everytime It’s used there is an embarrassed silence.

      • That panel alone gives me shivers, if I was a Shinner I would merely have that as my campaign poster and ask the simple question: ‘do you think the SDLP are in touch with Northern Nationalism?’ because that coven would keep me up at night it’s that bad. Like we’ve discussed before, these guys don’t give a monkeys for the SDLP, they were there for the finger food.

  8. FC,

    I wasn’t making a point beyond that’s where we are. And we are hooked on a question that we can only work tangentially towards, whilst things like poverty relief and sectarian conflict are left to parboil on the back-burner.

    But you are spot on in two regards. The vagueness of the concept of an AGREED Ireland, and the fact that few in the SDLP know what it means.

    A UNITED Ireland on the other hand whilst it has big picture clarity, comes with no credible road map. Ergo an agreed Ireland implies the MEANS; whilst united is the GOAL.

    If you have NO roadmap, then the means are NECESSARILY fuzzy. Handled well, as you say, that’s an advantage because it clears new space for new thinking. In foregrounding a border poll SF presented the ends as the means: in the process, disclosing the fact that they don’t have a strategy.

    If being nice to Prods is the biggest problem the SDLP faces (it’s not, BTW), perhaps it ought to relax and figure out how to leverage its core strengths. Paradoxically, one of those strengths is that the SDLP does not know what it means.

    Regardless of who takes it on, a commitment to new thinking within nationalism is needed. It has NOTHING to do with conflict resolution (or indeed conflict irresolution, listen here: http://goo.gl/CNPYi) and everything with getting back into unapologetically full blooded politics.

    If Northern Nationalism is ever to become politically potent, it needs to set down the chip on its shoulder and outline a vision in which the flag symbolises a national synthesis between traditions rather than apartheid.

    • Mick,

      All of the above are fair points IMHO. You will note that here and elsewhere we’re not having talks about how great we are all the time. Of course, like everyone we revel in our enemies misfortune but tbf we also try and hold our own to task, criticise them and ask, why aren’t you doing more? Why aren’t you picking certain fights?

      For nationalism, yes there may be demographics in its favour but it’s biggest problem, which you’ve touched on, is the roadmap. I do think we have some kind of stasis in our movement at the moment and it worries, however I look across the fence and see a shit storm there too, and that’s fine for them as unionism holds a hell of a lot of trump cards, incumbency being the biggest one. We have a leap of faith moment in an economic environment where most will go for incumbency as opposed to the unknown. It may create a unique situation where action also is the clear political majority but the voters puck their time for a UI, or don’t.

      Tbh, I would like to see a third Nat party emerge, like FG, someone with little baggage up North and can deal in ‘normal’ politics in an unthreatening manner with the so called ‘middle ground’.Now, I hate FG but we have lots of either left leaning or populist Nat parties here in the North, FG would definitely be different to what we have here at the moment and could possibly work better with centre ground unionism, if there is such thing. That’s the biggest pie in the sky idea I have for this post, it’s never going to happen but I believe FG organising in the North would be so much more of a game changer for nationalism than FF coming up here.

      Apologies all for any typos btw, iPad!

      • factual says:

        I actually think the demographic thing makes northern nationalism lazy. They think that there is some long term trend towards a UI and so they sit back and wait. A further snag is that it’s not a good way to a UI, a better way is a more political approach that tries to take on board unionist values and incorporate the best parts in to the approach. We have seen that unionists and protestants north of the border have much to be proud about and we should acknowledge that genuinely, then move on to see if a less divided society can be build up, up there, before hoping to bring more people – outside the usual nationalist base- to become passionate about Dublin rule.

      • It is not a matter of nationalists being lazy. There is no need for nationalists to do anything or take risks. There is just inevitability.

      • In my view nationalists dine out too heartily on the vices of their opponents. Without a map, there will be no jail break.

        And the temptation to f**k things up every now and again to remind the world just how narrow minder the jailers are, will not make the term come to an end any sooner.

      • Mick,

        Fuck things up? Do elaborate Mick. As for dining out on our opponents’ narrow minded ways, let’s be fair, it’s a two way street back home, it’s not like cheap shots don’t come from our eternal opponents, fed by the likes of Nolan, Bele Tel and the erstwhile Sheldon among others. If conditions are created where this is the game being played and these parties then bemoan ‘oh, why don’t we have normal everyday politics and cooperation?’ they can of course get a mirror a d see whose part of the problem.

        Now, will this get us any closer to a UI? Who knows though I would prefer something a lot more transformative than what we have on the go. It makes it more difficult, not less, then again our opponents make my life so much more easier as they continue to give a daily reminder of why I and many others want a UI.


        Tbh, there is a great flaw in your thinking re unionism, that could ever become passionate about Dublin rule would mean they’re no longer unionists. Now, some will be more amenable than others and there’s a reservoir there to be tapped but I do think we would needs new Nat party to do this.

      • factual says:


        Northern protestants (who we label unionist as a cultural term) have a rational self interest that, if appealed to, can cause them to think differently about dublin, and their history shows that they can rethink and reposition depending on self interest, but the key point is that we need to take away the existential fear that some nationalist attitudes engender among unionists and make Dublin rule something that can appeal to their self interest without doing violence to their amour propre.

      • No they dont. And you insult them by thinking that they can be bought off.
        At this Easter time, we remember Irishmen and women who could not have their souls bought.
        Unionists/Protestants are just as decent. just as dignified, that they will not be corrupted by appeals to narrow self interest.
        This is the same insult that the British have used on the Irish for 800 years…we may or may not be better off. Thats not the point.
        And for the best part of a century with varying degrees of sincerity unionism has appealed to the nationalist community in the north on the same basis.
        People (for example LetsGetalongerists) who try to buy people off underestimate the values that decent people have ….mainly because LetsGetalongerists have no values themselves.

      • factual says:

        There is nothing insulting about saying that people have a rational self interest. Indeed it is a compliment for a republican – republicanism being an outcome of enlightenment period when thinking and reason were forefront – to say so.

        Moreover, this is not ecnomic, it is cultural, so it is not about “buying” people off, rather it is primarily about cultural respectfulness and removing the existential fear that unionist people have regarding Dublin rule.

  9. factual says:

    Mick: One of the things that the people involved in the peace process said was that it took a long time to get to that point because each side (of the two) took a long time to realise that “outright victory” was not going to happen.

    It may be that in the present context a similar process is going on. There is outright cultural existential fear/hope. On the one hand, some think that demograpics are gonig to deliver a victory (if not a UI then an outright greening of NI). There are others who see every cultural change in the “winner/loser” paradigm. I think that, just as powersharing and the three stranded process was developed to deal with the constitutional issues, and the long term solutions to those constitutional issues emerged as an obvious solution years before they were put in place, the six counties now need to start thinking in terms of the cultural cohabitation framework that should deliver good outcomes for both sides. It will take a while to realise that both cultures are here to stay and that they need not, in fact, be mutually exclusive. When this message (not mutually exclusive) sinks in then a more relaxed view can come about, where people can decommission their cultural weaponry.

  10. It’s not laziness (though I grant it looks like that from a southern perspective. It’s fatalism generated by our sui generis conflict (http://goo.gl/X0J0G). And in part it is by design. This from one of the best conversations I’ve seen on conflict resolution (http://goo.gl/CNPYi):

    “In the siege of Sarejevo there were so many arbitrary crimes, you know, children shelled, snipers shooting people running to get water, but it was precisely so that no one would be able to forgive the next generation. In other words to establish the conflict as eternal and perpetual.”

    And here’s that bleakness depicted in the most eloquent of terms by one Peter Preston, liberal maybe, but no LetsGetAlongerist he (http://goo.gl/15sn1):

    “So order a few pints of bleak and bitter in this last-chance Stormont saloon. The moderates of history, the ones who stood against violence and won Nobel prizes, didn’t win. Their moderation is history now. Of course Paisley and McGuinness can hobble along together for a while in a nightmare coalition of twisted motives, but don’t for a moment believe that four-party rule is anything but an illusion. Where else in the world would such a construction work?

    “In reality, it’s a no-party system, designed to operate in the sectarian bunkers, giving voters no great alternative (just a little Alliance somewhere in the middle). If the flaw that’s blighting devolution in Scotland is that things were subtly rigged to keep the Nats out of the action, so the flaw here is that Stormont is rigged for “normal” stagnation, disillusion and recurrent crisis at the whim of any supposed partner. The centre cannot hold because there isn’t a proper centre to begin with. What of the next election and the one after that? Chant “more of the same” until supplies of sameness run out? What if Ulster’s general election vote holds the British balance? Chant “chaos is come again”.

    “The awkward truth, demonstrated yet again as the legacy-makers depart, is that mainland UK wants shot of this problem. Hold on to Scotland at all costs, but let Northern Ireland go its own sweet way as the troops head home. Been there, done that, had enough. But the coalition we leave behind isn’t a way forward, more a full stop: an agreement to play politics for a while rather than play demagogues or gunmen. And the underlying craving for justice in a fresh, non-sectarian land? Ah! It’s party-party time. Pour one for Nuala.”

  11. Factual,

    I did reply, but it’s been quarantined…

    • factual says:

      FJH: could you kindly consider clearing Mick’s post, or clarify why it has been quarintined? I would be most grateful as i am interested in his reply. As I would be in any contribution you would like to make.

      Mick: The basic point I was making (in case I was not clear) is that the GFA’s powersharing arrangements were only agreed when people realised that outright victory (by one side or other) was not going to happen. The same concept is possible in terms of how nationalists and unionists do politics and culture and “the past” within the powersharing arrangements; are there some that hope for outright cultural victory. Eventually people will come to see that both traditions are not only here to stay, but that both traditions actually are worth promoting and taking an interest in. Frameworks for thinking about how we move to that place are very infleuential in the long term: just as the work on the three strands and powersharing in the 70s and 80s were needed as a foundation for the GFA that eventually came to pass.

      • I don’t have to explain anything.
        No longer quarantined.
        But since you ask.
        1…it is a load of LetsGetAlongerist nonsense that I needed to read first.
        2…is nice about the Alliance Party.
        3…read it a few times….still haven’t a clue what it means…but I will pretend that I understand it because I want to give the impression that I know what he is talking about.;)

      • factual says:

        Thanks FJH, much appreciated.

      • Try not to reply to it…it could go on for months.
        You know what letsgetalongerists are like…worse than Jehovah’s witnesses. 😉

    • No longer quarantined.

  12. factual says:

    That quote is negativism and defeatism when you consider that the present system is something that a lot of people had to put in a lot of work to achieve, it is so much better than the political vacuum of the past times.. There is a political system in place. It is not perfect but it is designed for the divided society in the north. It will evolve. The basic ideas of powersharing will however remain constant, and that is something to be glad about.

  13. Gareth says:

    “If Northern Nationalism is ever to become politically potent, it needs to set down the chip on its shoulder and outline a vision in which the flag symbolises a national synthesis between traditions rather than apartheid.”

    A shared future, not a shared out future.

  14. Precisely so Gareth…


    It is very negative, and it does rather take for granted the past sacrifices that went in creating that incredible moment 15 years ago. And, of course, the SAA has at least helped prevent further bouts of suspension ever since.

    But he ain’t wrong…


    I’ll step back on that in just one regard: that is, how can we know if any given action is fecking things up if you have no idea how you are going to achieve the goal.

    Thanks all, this has been an incredibly useful ‘scrap’. 😉

    • Mick,

      You were the one bringing up how Nats like to on occasion fuck things up, come on now, how so? Like you said, if there is no plan then how do you know they’re fucking things up?

      Re this scrap, it’s been good fun and well humoured at least, I’m not top certain we could do this on too many other places.

      • Mick says:

        Every gaffe has its virtues.. On your question, another time, another thread – perhaps even on Slugger one day.

        It requires a more thoughtful explanation than I have time to give it in the middle of a family holiday…

        Never been to Oz, but I did once interview a nice centenarian English lady who had spent ten years with her cousins out in Cairns in the 20s.. Apart from the crocs, it sounded like a great place…

        Speak soon…

      • It is nice here, it really is all about the quality of life being the focus for everyone as opposed to the lip service it is paid nearly everywhere else, that’s probably because it really is ‘the lucky country’ but also because Aussies wouldn’t have it any other way.

        Cairns, a few friends have lived there; it’s exclusively for tourists and retirees (not a criticism btw) but you’re starting to get a lot of FIFO (fly in fly out) jobs for mines there. Still it’s kind of odd it being slightly hedonistic, what New Orleans is to the South, a place apart from everywhere else in the area.

      • Mick says:

        This lady’s cousin ran an ice factory. She used to help deliver big blocks of it some Sundays of the back of a horse and cart. Different place back then I suspect.

      • Yeah, it’s a lot different now, it would be a ute now, though I suspect theres no need for thrice factory but that’s Far Northern QLD so who knows, that Rugby League and country music country up there, be de ding ding ding ding ding ding ding…

      • factual says:

        We have lost a lot of people to Australia. Young talent who could be contributing to a shared future in Ireland, a better future for all in Ireland, are going off to a barbequeue culture in Australia.

      • Factual, give others and myself a decent job and we’ll be back home. Unlike many, I do not want to sit on my behind waiting for things to change and like many fellow young Irish we’ll go and make things happen as we’ve in effect been betrayed by the golden circle.

        Plus, have you been here yet? I’m going to guess from your considered response it might be a no…

      • factual says:

        A fair point. I should have pointed out that no I have not been to Australia. I was being cheeky when I said about bbq culture. Call it jealousy as we sit here shivering at Easter.

  15. factual says:

    Mick: that was a very interesting historian digital lunch in the blog you linked to.

    • mick says:

      Thanks. I need to work their discoverability

      • factual says:


        Every country has its narrative – national story.

        The 26 counties republican narrative – one of liberation and independence – and the six county unionist narrative – one of commonality of culture and shared interests with Britain – are so are so different. Do you think that the two narratives can be replaced with a new one in a united Ireland that maintains the integrity of each?

      • mick says:

        I don’t know is the honest answer. But since FF left office I don’t see many trying.

      • factual says:

        What do you think of Micheal Martin’s take on six county matters? He seems to believe there is greater need for shared future initiatives and that the two governments, and SF, are allowing things to continue as a divided community north of the border, when the time is actually ripe to push things forward in terms of sharing integration and cohesion.

      • mick says:

        He needs a partner. Better still two. The most valid criticism is he has no provenance in NI. But his push on the primacy of law is right.

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