Editorial from Irish Political Review, November 2005
Politics Of Exclusion
Garret FitzGerald drove the Ulster Protestants crazy in 1985 when, in furtherance of the sovereignty claim of the unamended Articles 2 & 3 of the Irish Constitution, he achieved a role for the Irish State in the governing of the Six Counties, which were part of the British State. Ulster Unionists were shocked out of their communal routines. We availed of their disrupted condition to implant amongst them the knowledge that they were politically disconnected from the British state to which they professed loyalty. We urged them to demand incorporation into the democratic political life of that state as a means of overcoming the rigorous communal, or sectarian, division which was an inevitable consequence of the 'Northern Ireland State'.
We had been advocating this remedy for more than ten years before that, but it was only after Dr. FitzGerald traumatised the Ulster Protestants in 1985 that we got a hearing. And when we did get a hearing, and a movement for the democratisation of the Six Counties within the political life of the British state got under way, Dr. FitzGerald was very angry. We were subjected to close scrutiny and harassment by his Special Branch as well as by the Special Branch of the RUC. An apparatus supposedly intended for use against terrorists was used against us, who were the ultimate constitutionalists.
The 26 Counties, in our experience, came closer to being a police state during the year following the signing of the 1985 Agreement than at any other time during the past forty years. And it was thanks to Charles Haughey's refusal (as leader of the Opposition) to go along with it that Dr. FitzGerald's authoritarian inclinations were curbed.
Dr. FitzGerald has now written a reflective article on the Northern problem (Irish Times, 15 Oct) in which he attributes the feeling of the Northern majority that it was a threatened minority to the higher nationalist birthrate combined with "Southern irredentism". The combined pressures of Catholic fertility within, and the Dublin claims from without, led to "carefully disguised political and economic discrimination against the Northern minority". Meanwhile the 26 Counties developed itself as a state in accordance with its predominant culture. It did not hold itself in abeyance lest, by shaping itself as a state and allowing itself to develop, it should deepen its differences with the Ulster Unionists. Thus—
"From these events a deeply paradoxical situation emerged. First, on the Protestant Unionist side, their artificial electoral majority within the six-county area never translated itself into a psychological sense of being actually a majority."
"the Protestant unionist community could never lose a sense of being a threatened minority on the island of Ireland. In that key respect, and at the deepest level—that of fear—unionists in Northern Ireland continued to think in all-Ireland terms. In sharp contrast, the nationalist people of the rest of the island… rapidly became deeply involved in the construction of their new State… Within a very short period, we in this part of Ireland, for practical purposes, ceased to think of the island as our home, but came to identify primarily—one might say almost exclusively—with our new State."
It would be too harsh to say that paradox is the last refuge of a scoundrel. But there are few authentic paradoxes in the world. Most paradoxes do not arise from inherent difficulties in thought but from evasion of thought. We have just now the paradox that established commentators who praised Peter Hart's truly dreadful book on the IRA in Cork five years ago are denouncing his very much better book on Michael Collins. But that paradox is no more than an expression of mindlessness. Hart, for all the adulation of asinine critics in high places, was made to understand, by authentic criticism in publications associated with this magazine, that his initial vision would not play. So he regrouped and produced a much better book, and is condemned for it by a critical acumen which is of a kind with that which praised his first book. We are here in the realm of fashion, not of thought.
Dr. FitzGerald's head is not as empty as the heads of these 'critics'. But he constructs his paradox by averting his mind from a fundamental fact of the situation which is politically unacceptable to him—that the preconditions of democratic political life were deliberately and calculatingly withheld from the Six Counties when they were constituted into 'the Northern Ireland State' by the British Government, which never ceased to be the sovereign authority in the area.
Partition remained the only issue in Northern elections because it was deliberately arranged that it should be so. The arrangements made for the Six Counties in 1921 had nothing whatever to do with the provision of good government. So-called elections there have never been anything but referendums on whether the region should be part of the British state or the Irish state. They were unconnected with the governing of the state, which is what democracy is about. It might be said that voting on which state the region should belong to was democratic in a secondary sense. But democracy in the proper sense has to do with the governing of a state. In the British state that is done through the operation of the two-party system, with one party as the Government and the other as a Government-in-waiting, and other parties marginalised. The party-system of the state excluded Northern Ireland from its operations. Voting in the Six Counties was therefore disconnected from the actual democracy of the state. It is a virtual certainty that large numbers of Catholics in the North would have participated in the democracy of the state if it had been open to them to do so, and would as a result have found themselves acting politically with Protestants.
But electoral activity in the North had nothing to do with governing the state. Elections were only convoluted referendums on the question of whether the region should belong to the British state or the Irish. They were referendums conducted as elections. And, in order to remain within the British state in semi-detached form, Unionists had to secure 'party' majorities within the devolved system. Devolved governments were elected, but government policy played little or no part in the voting. And the conducting of referendums in the form of the election of devolved governments ensured that both Protestants and Catholics remained cohesive communal blocs.
Catholics would have taken part in the democracy of the state if it had been open to them to do so. If simple referendums had been held on whether to retain a subordinate attachment to the British state or transfer to the Irish state, it is probable that at various times quite a few of them would have voted for the former. But, in the convoluted referendums in which a vote to remain attached to Britain could only take the form of a vote for the Ulster Unionist Party (the communal party of the Protestants with the Orange Order at its core) only a minuscule number of Catholics could be expected to vote for the British connection.
Partition, therefore, could never be taken for granted and political life be conducted with regard to the governing of the existing state. And Catholics could only vote against Partition, because they would otherwise be voting for their own humiliation.
We assume that Dr. FitzGerald is familiar with this view of the matter.
Although it was never allowed expression in the Irish Times, it forced its
way into the Northern media during the years after 1985 when he was Taoiseach,
and he took the trouble to harass those within his jurisdiction who were
advocating it. (We have no reason to suppose that his Special Branch was
acting without his authority.)
It is a view which neither he nor anybody else has ever attempted to refute. In our experience everybody who applied his mind to the matter has had to agree that 'Northern Ireland' was an ingenious system of perverse government—and that includes people who subsequently became British Cabinet Ministers, after being given to understand by discreet pressure from the corridors of power that their careers would be cut short unless they let the matter drop.
The Unionists could never feel secure because they were placed in a situation in which Partition was the only possible issue in electoral politics, and voting with regard to Partition was conducted in a way that kept Catholics together as a cohesive Anti-Partitionist bloc. A permanent minority, beginning as a third and rising, would be much too large to allow for stability even in a state—and Northern Ireland was a flimsy construction that was never a state and was incapable of becoming one.
"Southern irredentism" was not the influence chiefly responsible for keeping the Northern Catholic community alienated from the state in the North. It was the Northern state itself which did that—the British state in the perverse form which it chose to assume in the North.
But, insofar as "Southern irredentism" added to the inherently unstable condition of the North, the most disruptive "irredentists" were Jack Lynch and Dr. FitzGerald himself. Lynch poured fuel on the flames in August 1969 with his speech about not standing idly by. And the next irredentist event in order of importance with regard to the Unionist feeling of being under siege was the Hillsborough Agreement of 1985 which Dr. FitzGerald wrung from Mrs. Thatcher. And he was also centrally involved in the third major irredentist event—the funny business over sovereignty that surrounded the Sunningdale Agreement in 1973 and led to the Unionist General Strike (or "Constitutional Stoppage") of May 1974.
In 1985 it was John Hume who gave the sharpest expression to Dr. FitzGerald's project when he spoke of ripening the Unionist boil in order to lance it. But Hume could not be an irredentist—or could he? He was not claiming any territory. He was coping as best he could with the mess that had been made of the irredenta claimed by Dr. FitzGerald. But, if we are to follow Dr. FitzGerald's use of the term, it must be said that he himself and Jack Lynch were the two most active irredentists in the conduct of the Irish state during the past forty years. It was they who did most to stir things up. And they did so in a fine disregard of the social and political realities of the Northern situation, without any semblance of a practical policy to harness the energies which they provoked, and they were then reduced to moral exhortation and moral condemnation of the consequences.
By contrast with them, Charles Haughey, the man of the "flawed pedigree" (as Dr. FitzGerald put it) was only a token irredentist who kept a certain ideal alive but knew better than to poke at the Northern situation as they did.
But is it sensible to apply the term irredentist to this matter at all?
The greatest irredentism in which nationalist Ireland was ever involved was the First World War, which is celebrated on Poppy Day. The French state laid claim to a piece of the German state, Alsace-Lorraine, and made war on Germany to gain it. Redmondite Ireland supported that claim and supported the war. And then Redmondite Ireland encouraged a second irredentist claim in the Spring of 1915 in order to bring Italy into the War. And the following year an attempt was made to draw Greece into the war by encouraging it to make an irredentist claim on Turkish Asia Minor, which had been part of the Greek system thousands of years earlier. (The Greek Government rejected the offer, but was overthrown by a British invasion, and a puppet Government declared war, but came to grief when it tried to occupy the territory that Britain had awarded it.)
Without the French irredentist claim to Alsace-Lorraine there would have been no European War in 1914, and without the European War there would have been no World War.
Alsace was a region acquired by France in the 18th century and lost as a consequence of its aggression against Germany in 1870. In 1914 it was a settled part of the federal German state with extensive Home Rule. The population was of divided nationality, but predominantly German speaking, and with a patois of its own.
An Italian state was set up in the mid-19th century, taking its final form in 1870 in conjunction with the French war on Germany. But, according to the doctrine of Mazzini—who is cited as an authority by Roy Foster in certain matters—it would not be complete unless it filled out its historic form, stretching northwards to the Alps and eastwards across the Adriatic to the Dalmatian coast of what is now Croatia. Britain supported this irredentist claim for the purpose of drawing the Italian state into the war against Austria. There was extensive opposition within the Italian state to this irredentist war. The Catholic Church opposed it, as did the Socialist Party. The leading irredentist warmonger was Mussolini, who at this juncture combined extreme nationalism with the radical socialism which he had preached hitherto and thus laid the basis for Fascism.
Within the irredenta—the Trentino and the Alto Adige—the majority spoke Italian and the minority German, but there was extensive participation by all in the political life of the Hapsburg state. One of the leading politicians of the region was Alcide de Gasperi, who took part as a Christian Democrat in the political life of the Hapsburg state, and did not support the irredentist claim made by the Italian state. When the Trentino was incorporated into the Italian state in 1919 he distanced himself from Fascism. And after 1945 he emerged as one of the founders of what became the European Union, his moral position being founded on rejection of the irredentism of 1914.
The 'Northern Ireland' situation is in no way comparable to that of the Alsace or the Trentino, both of which were stable and well-governed parts of the democracies of their respective States, and neither of which had the long continuity as a historic territory that was the case in Ireland. Neither the Norman Conquest nor the subsequent conquests by Elizabeth, Cromwell and William, treated the country as anything other than the Kingdom of Ireland. It was always governed as a distinct political entity under the Crown—formally so until 1800, and actually so thereafter, whatever notional theoretical arguments may be deployed in connection with the Parliamentary Union.
The constitutional unity of the island was not questioned until 1914 and was not actually tampered with until 1920. And, when it was tampered with, the thing was done in a way that gave rise to endemic conflict and chronic instability, the main causes of which did not lie in any claims made by another state.
If one cared to use the word "paradox" as it is used by Dr. FitzGerald, one might say that it was paradoxical that those of the Redmondite tendency, which supported the irredentist conquest of stable and well-governed regions of the German and Hapsburg States in 1914, should now be complaining of irredentism with regard to the unstable and atrociously misgoverned segment of the Kingdom of Ireland that was cut off in 1921 for some reason that had nothing at all to do with good government.
Martin Mansergh had an article on the same day (15 Oct) in which he made a case for physical force under the title, Physical Force Cannot Solve Problems Of Divided Society. Fianna Fail's intellectual is slowly and painfully coming to terms with the fact that he cannot make his stand on the ground set out by his father, the influential British academic-cum-adminstrator, Nicholas Mansergh:
"Sinn Fein points out that terrible and indefensible things happened in the War of Independence. The difference lies in the overall legitimacy of that earlier struggle".
He does not indicate what "indefensible things" were done (on the Irish side) in the War of Independence. If the indefensible thing was not the War itself, it is hard to see what else was indefensible. War is war, as supporters of the war on Iraq like to say when civilian casualties are mentioned.
The "overall legitimacy" of 1919-21 is presumably supplied by the election result, which the British Parliament chose to ignore. But what de-legitimises the insurrection in the North by the very large minority deprived of democratic outlets and subjected to a kind of harassing communal control which has nothing in common with democratic government?
A few months ago Mansergh wrote something which we understood to say that only the Dublin Government had the right to declare war anywhere in Ireland. But surely that is an expression of the irredentist claim which Dr. Fitzgerald now deplores?
In any event, the Dublin Government backed down in a confrontation with the British Government in the Spring of 1970, and launched prosecutions against various people for things which they had done under its authority during the preceding six months. And by that measure it forfeited its authority in affairs in the North, whether its claim of authority is regarded as legitimate or mischievous. It left the Catholic community in the North to cope with its predicament on its own. And its predicament was in many ways worse than that of the national community as a whole after the 1918 Election, and certainly much worse than that of the 26 County majority after Partition was enacted in the Summer of 1921. Self-government of one degree or another was then going to be allowed by Britain, even though independence would be conceded to nothing but force. And nationalist Ireland as a whole had never been excluded from the party-politics of the State. It withdrew itself under O'Connell's leadership from the politics by which the state was governed. O'Connell might have developed the Whig/Liberal Party in Ireland and become a member of the Government, but he chose a different course of action. And, although he preached pacifism as an absolute for Irish nationalists, the course of development on which he set the country led to war three generations later.
He believed in some kind of spirit of the age which would disable the British will to fight the Irish democracy in defence of its Irish conquest. The moment of truth for that belief came in 1919, and it was found that Britain had not lost the will to fight to hold a dissident national democracy within the Empire. But the Irish decided not to back down, as they had done under O'Connell's leadership in 1843. They resisted British government by force. Mansergh says there was an 'overall legitimacy' in the War of Independence. Where did it come from? Not from the British Parliament. Not from the Versailles Conference. Not from the League of Nations. Not from France. Not from the USA. It came from no external authority. It was a self-asserted legitimacy by Sinn Fein, recognised by no major state in the world—except Bolshevik Russia, which was itself not regarded as legitimate by the arbiters of legitimacy, the victorious Powers assembled at Versailles.
Sinn Fein's assertion of its own legitimacy as the Irish Government on the basis of the 1918 Election has never been recognised by Britain. When Britain recognised a governing authority in Ireland in 1922 it was not the Sinn Fein Dail but the subordinate Parliament of Southern Ireland provided for by a British Act of Parliament. What Sinn Fein saw as a legitimate War of Independence pursuant to an electoral mandate was treated by the British Parliament and Government as a rebellion against legitimate authority. And Britain restored order by making a deal with a group of the rebels who were prepared to give up the vain conceit of independent Irish authority and accept a devolution of authority from the English Crown.
Independence was reasserted in 1932, and the Sinn Fein view of the source of legitimacy was not questioned during the next forty years. But, over the past thirty years, the view of the War of Independence as rebellion against legitimate authority has been revived and it now dominates academic history. It is what 'revisionism' is all about. Charles Townsend set it going with his British Campaign In Ireland 1919-21 (1975). In virtually every history issued since then by mainstream publishers the 1918 Election is disregarded as a source of legitimacy. The extreme case was Peter Hart's The IRA And Its Enemies, written in language reminiscent of the Orange propaganda against the United Irishmen, and highly praised by almost everybody who counts in the institutional hierarchy.
This collapse into West Britishism has led to the re-emergence of the Sinn Fein Party in the electoral life of the Republic. The anti-democratic structure of the North was the cause of the formation of Provisional Republicanism. Official Republicanism in all its forms (Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, the Labour Party) washed its hands of the North, in the way described by FitzGerald. But at the same time it was, in all its forms, implacably hostile to our project of democratising the North within the political structures of the UK. It left the Catholic community in the North to its own devices, with the proviso that it must be denied an outlet into British politics. Then it sat in judgement on the device by which the Northern Catholics coped with their predicament: Provisional Republicanism. Now this political force, which arose in the North because of the default of Official Republicanism, has crossed the Border and has reminded the Republic where it has come from. And, Lo and Behold, the military ceremonies commemorating 1916 are to be restored after thirty-five years of a wilful attempt to forget.
Mansergh defends this revival as if it was not a concession to position established by Sinn Fein/IRA in the hope of warding off its further spread. But the tactic is too blatant. (The Taoiseach is addressing the Seán Moylan commemoration in Kiskeam, Co. Cork, this month. But the date of the event has been pushed back a week to facilitate him. Why did he insist on that? Because this is the date on which Mary Lou MacDonald, Provo MEP, is addressing the Tom Barry commemoration at Kilmichael, about twenty miles away, and he wants to take some of the limelight away from her. It is regrettable that the organisers of the Moylan event lent themselves to this manoeuvre.)
"Virtually all democracies hold commemorative military parades. The unionist tradition holds hundreds each year in memory of the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688, so they can scarcely object to commemorating the event which marked the beginning of the Irish revolution. It cannot be emphasised enough that this Republic is the heir of 1916, not paramilitary-linked movements which till recently all refused to recognise it or participate in its institutions" (IT 29.11.05)
And yet "this Republic" forgot what it was heir to until the "paramilitary linked movement" brought home to it the consequences of forgetting.
As for participating in the institutions of "this Republic", the "paramilitary linked movement" is eager to do so, but is excluded. The heartland of this movement is cut off from the Dail by the Border at the insistence of all the Official heirs of 1916. This was the case while the old Articles 2 & 3 were intact and it remains the case after they have been reduced to an aspiration. And, while excluding representation of Northern parties in the Dail, Fianna Fail (which apparently has resumed its sub-title, The Republican Party) continues to refuse to extend its own operations to the North: "Establishing Fianna Fail in the North could destabilise it [!!!!], split the nationalist vote, and weaken progress towards shared goals" (Mansergh 29 Nov). But, when the "shared goals" are achieved and the North is peaceful and contented and ceases to be a problem, then the matter might be reconsidered. Which means that things must settle down within the UK before the Dail will consider opening its doors to elected representatives from the North. But the settling down in the North must happen outside the political structures of the UK, in a No-man's-land where the only possible form of politics is the conflict of the two communities.
The concluding paragraph of Mansergh's 15th November statement is as follows:
"Northern Ireland, which for so long lacked a proper democratic dispensation, now has one, even if part of it is in abeyance. [Like the 1914 Home Rule Act?] Its full realisation requires reasonable confirmation of the abandonment of physical force. The future is constitutional."
The suggestion that the resort to physical force by the Catholic community was at the source of the problem is groundless, and it reverses the historic order of cause and effect. It was the particularity of Northern Ireland that was the problem, and the problem was the cause of the sudden and spectacular rise of the physical force movement in the Winter of 1969-70, leading to the declaration of war in, as far as we can recall, the Spring of 1970. Physical force was a symptom of the problem, and the problem survives the repudiation of physical force. And the problem is that Northern Ireland was not, is not, and cannot be, a democracy—because democracy is a mode of governing a state, and Northern Ireland is not a state and it is excluded from the democracy of the state which holds it, and likewise from the democracy of the state which asserted sovereignty over it for sixty years but has recently reduced that assertion to an aspiration.
And, while the future may or may not be peaceful, present arrangements provide no grounds to assume that it will be constitutional.
Northern Ireland never formed part of the British Constitution, as that entity has been understood by the major writers on it. It was an extemporised device externally associated with the Constitution, connected by Union Jackery but excluded from what Erskine Mayne (who wrote the gospel on the matter) described as the "lifeblood of the Constitution": the system of party politics on which everything else depends in real life.
'Constitutional nationalism' is no more constitutional than Republicanism. Its aims lie outside the Constitution. And that was why the foremost Constitutional authority of the time, A.V. Dicey, supported extra-Parliamentary opposition to the 1914 Home Rule Bill: i.e. the Bill was carried with the support of the Irish Party whose purpose was to remove Ireland from the sphere of operation of the Constitution.
The Good Friday Agreement is not a Constitutional settlement, and it certainly has not made Northern Ireland a democracy. It is in essence a transitional arrangement with instability built in. It meets the requirements set out by Gerry Adams twenty years ago as conditions for the operation of a peaceful policy by the Republican movement. But peace in this matter means the absence of military activity only. It means the continuation of war by other means. The conflict of communities goes on after the war as it did before war was declared. And it would go on even if Sinn Fein dissolved itself and handed the game back to the SDLP.
The Agreement unsettled the Protestant community more than the war had
done because it was so obviously a transitional arrangement towards something
Graham Gudgin had an article on this theme in the Irish Times on 19th September. He is described there as "special adviser to First Minister David Trimble during 1998-2002", but he is something much more interesting than that. He was active in the late 1980s in the movement to bring the North within the British Constitution. But he lost patience with our approach of building up support within the British parties in order to force their leaders to do what they did not want to do. At the critical moment he was one of those who undermined the project by shifting it from political ground to legal ground, thereby relinquishing the political ground that had been established, both in the North and in Britain. The division that occurred on that issue was chiefly between men of property who believed in the power of money to buy politics through the medium of law, and those of us who were making political headway by use of our political wits and our powers of persuasion. We argued that the judiciary would not usurp the authority of Parliament in this matter, and that the Government had an ulterior purpose for Northern Ireland which over-rode considerations of good government. But the men of property—the people with a stake in the country, as one of them actually put it—mistook money for political acumen. They went to law against the Labour Party. After many years had passed and much money had been spent, the Labour Party made an out of court settlement under which it enrolled individuals in Northern Ireland as individuals but prohibited them from political activity.
The political movement up over 20 years by the activity of David Morrison, Pat Muldowney and others, was dispersed by Gudgin and his colleagues, who regressed into the politics of communal antagonism. Gudgin in particular rejected the suggestion that Whitehall had an ulterior purpose for Northern Ireland, and that its resistance to our project was not due to misunderstanding. But it seems that he is no longer sure of this, since he writes of "the long deterioration in unionist confidence in the British government" because of concessions to the enemies of the state.
He dismisses the view that Republican military activity is the problem:
"The deeper reality is that sectarian violence from loyalists will continue for the same reason as it has since the 1840s. Electoral reform in the early 19th century first made Irish nationalism a credible threat to Protestants' position in the UK. This threat has remained ever since and will get worse as the Catholic proportion of the electorate creeps towards 50 per cent in coming decades. As it increases we can expect communal divisions to widen. The panoply of cross-community measures and integrated education will count for little… We remain in a world in which few are willing to relax the pressures that have lasted since the 1840s. Emboldened by the agreement, Northern nationalists have strengthened the priority they give to Irish unity as a political aim. In the South the expression of the aspiration to unity is universally regarded as a birthright. Even Michael McDowell, greatly esteemed by unionists for his stand against IRA criminality, feels the need to describe himself as a republican who aims to "make partition history".
"Few nationalists are able to see their aspirations as divisive, and none perceive how they feed loyalist paranoia and increase the need for the Orange Order and others to mark out their territory…
"The nationalists need to persuade the unionists that they present no real threat to their British identity. At present there is little sign that even moderate nationalists North or South are willing to do that."
But how might they do it if they wanted to? Dennis Kennedy has an answer. It is given in the title of his Irish Times article on 31st October: Nationalists Must Now Abandon Unity Aspiration. And its blurb: "The nationalist goal of Irish unity remains a major obstacle to progress in Northern Ireland".
Kennedy is a member of the exclusive, and exclusively Unionist, think-tank, the Cadogan Group (along with Professor Bew, Professor Patterson and Professor Aughey, as far as we recall). And, although he was once the public relations man of the European Union in Belfast, he has a much more narrowly "Ulsterish" focus on the world than Gudgin.
He says that the condition of "political progress" is that nationalism must cease to be, and that in return Unionists should bring about a Northern Ireland "which is not ‘simply British’". But Northern Ireland has never been "simply British", and that is why it has always been a problem. It is simply not British in all that has to do with "political progress".
Kennedy is less able to describe the situation than Gudgin but is basically in agreement with him:
"Northern Ireland has been dragged back… to the stark tribal hostility of nationalism versus unionism; community relations are worse than before the agreement. The long-awaited IRA act of decommissioning and the announced end of its campaign of violence… do not change that reality… The IRA act of decommissioning is almost irrelevant."
So the obstacle is not the IRA but "the nationalist goal of Irish unity"; and the solution is that nationalism should cease to be. But how, within the confines of "the Northern Ireland state", might nationalism cease to be?
Without facing up to the reality that the structure set up in the North in 1921 preserves communal antagonism as its only normality, Kennedy concedes that "Nationalists will not stop being nationalists". But how then can nationalism cease to be? Is there to be nationalists as discrete atoms which never combine into a collective nationalism?
There must, he says, be "some serious thinking on what constitutes nationalism within the circumstances now prevailing in N. Ireland". But he gives no hint of what he thinks it might be, other than what it is. It is the circumstances prevailing ever since 1921 that have made it impossible for Northern Catholics (leaving aside eccentrics) to be anything other than anti-Partitionists, Irish nationalists.
The fashionable description of the communal antagonism as tribal is something we have never gone along with. It does not arise from a refusal to engage in the normal politics of the democratic state, but from exclusion from the democratic state by the democratic state. Unionism accepted that exclusion and operated a make-believe state whose politics consisted of the policing of a 40% community by the 60% community. In its traumatised condition in 1985-7 it considered our proposal that it should aspire to be British and to open up the range of British politics to the minority which was approaching equality. Having considered the proposal, it rejected it, and it has ever since been regressing towards something like tribalism.
The Catholic community, though ghettoised, refused to tribalise. It remained political beneath the oppressive apparatus of the make-believe state. And, when it was effectively disowned by the party-politics of the Republic, despite the sovereignty claim, it made its own arrangements both for war and peace, and it is now a political presence in its own right amongst the Pontius Pilates in the South.
Senator Mansergh has come out with an article entitled, Talk Of A United Ireland Is Legitimate But premature (IT 8.10.05). He cites Kant's Prolegomena as a prelude to a proposal that talk of a united Ireland should be put on the long finger. But anything that goes beyond the attrition of communal antagonism must have to do with entry into the political life of either the British or the Irish state—and the British option has been closed off by Whitehall and by Ulster Unionism.
"It is a telling admission of weakness and lack of persuasiveness with unionists, after 30 years of attempted use of force, that the two governments are called in by Sinn Fein, the British Government to produce a xxx persuade the unionists, the Government to produce a green paper on Irish unity."
This is a very cheap debating point indeed. It is not only the 30 years of war that failed to persuade the Unionists, but the 50 years of peace during which Dublin Governments nominally committed to unity did nothing at all but churn out empty rhetoric.
Politics Of Exclusion.
Shadow Of One Gunman Or Another.
Arrest Of Members Of First Dail On Armistice
Shorts From The Long Fellow
Bertie's Easter Parade.
Who Was De Valera Neutral Against?
The Propaganda That Never Sleeps.
The IRA Connections.
Sean Garland And Questions For Mickey McDowell.
Ahern's Modest Proposal.
Japan And Pearl Harbour.
No Irish Need Apply?
Trade Unions Against Partnership.
Dublin Trade Union Demonstration
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