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A Troublesome Result

I watched the results of yesterday’s Northern Irish election with some trepidation. For the first time, Unionists no longer hold the majority of seats at Stormont. In fact, the Irish terrorists’ preferred party, er, I mean, Sinn Féin were returned to Stormont with 27 members giving Irish Nationalist parties a total of 39 seats. Unionist parties were returned with 40 members. There has been some talk of an All-Ireland referendum on a united Ireland — Sinn Féin have, predictably, said that the results significantly increase the chances of this.

Whether or not this comes to pass is a different matter. The Republic of Ireland is constitutionally obliged to seek to expand its domain over all 32 traditional countries on the island. Realistically, this isn’t in Dublin’s best interest. Northern Ireland requires a great deal of financial support — support that is a burden on the United Kingdom’s vastly larger economy. The Republic of Ireland, economically vulnerable despite its tremendous growth in recent decades can ill afford a restless Ulster. Or, for that matter, a peaceful Ulster. The amount of support the Province requires would break Dublin financially. Nor is what passes for peace in the Province necessarily guaranteed. As sympathetic as I am to the Orangemen I am not so intellectually dishonest as to think that only Catholics contributed to the Troubles. So long as there is little interruption in Ireland, be it a hard border or trade complications, there is unlikely to be any serious shift in sentiment concerning Northern Ireland’s current political status. The EU has made it very clear that the last thing it wants to see is a hard border.

I very much doubt that all too much will come out of this. At best 20-22pc of voters in Northern Ireland actually support a united Ireland. Even in largely Catholic counties only a minority actually support this. Politics in Ulster are sectarian. As Scotland has shown, voting for a nationalist party doesn’t necessarily mean that one actually supports its constitutional aims. Arlene Foster made two terrible blunders that cost her dearly. The first was her  involvement in the catastrophic Renewable Heat Incentive. £490,000,000 is a great burden to place on Ulster taxpayers. This hurt economically vulnerable voters hardest and they’re overwhelmingly Catholic. The second terrible blunder is that she was far too antagonistic. Since 2007 the DUP and Sinn Féin have shared power. Both sides need to behave reasonably and avoid antagonising each other. Those who seek and hold power must look beyond their personal preferences and private hatreds — however justified.

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Categories: General
  1. March 4, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    “….The EU has made it very clear that the last thing it wants to see is a hard border…”
    What the EU wants is becoming increasingly irrelevant.
    I believe that during the troubles the Eire government’s greatest fear was that Westminster might just walk away from the problem and leave Ireland alone to sort itself out.
    I know that the NI Protestants are pretty tough and intractable; probably more than a match for the Dublin govt. Nevertheless leaving them all to get on with it might be the best option in the long run.
    The current situation is that the UK is in fact subsidising and enabling the various tantrums taking place in Scotland and NI. A bit like a nanny trying to pacify her charges with ever more slices of cake.
    There’s never enough cake !

  2. March 5, 2017 at 7:13 am

    I’ve found it is very difficult for Brits to fathom the attitudes prevalent in NI. The sectarian divide seems bottomless, despite the political compromises at Stormont. Nevertheless when Brexit is triggered I expect a border to be established because GB’s new independence will need to be palpable.

  3. March 5, 2017 at 7:33 am

    If the South remains as part of the EU and continues to follow its ridiculous immigration policies, the differences between Catholics and Protestants will become immaterial. It will become a war between Muslim extremism and Christianity, as is beginning to happen throughout the rest of Europe. The very fact that the IRA/Sinn Fein are now part of the government should have conclusively proven to them that you don’t need the majority of the population behind you for your revolution to succeed, just a few violent extremists. The IRA may soon be getting back some of the treatment that it was handing out not so long ago.

  4. March 5, 2017 at 8:29 am

    JL, I don’t see the EU continuing its ‘ridiculous immigration policies’ much longer. The only beneficiaries are the eastern EU members whose clout is limited when push comes to shove. Nor do I see the point of an all-Ireland plebiscite on unification – which would only further polarise the current separation of the populations. London’s financial strength will continue to protect the North and GB’s trade will keep Eire sweet.

  5. March 5, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Janus: The border between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom is not marked. The only way to tell that you’re crossing an international border is that on one side speed is measured in MPH and on the other in Km/h. The open border is part of the Good Friday Agreement and, as the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland share the Common Travel Area, the situation is unlikely to change. Whatever the Blessed Wee Nippy might screech, the UK Government is trying to find workable compromises that take into account the needs of all four constituent countries. The argument for an All-Ireland Vote is untenable. A majority of the Republic’s population would vote in favour, a strong majority in Ulster would vote against it — Catholics included. Such a vote would have no legitimacy. The Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, is in an uncomfortable position. Like Scotland — it’s economically reliant on the United Kingdom. Despite its best efforts to distance itself, Ireland cannot function without the UK.

    James: Little Manny Macaroon aside, continental countries are growing terribly adept at deporting people — even the Huns. Regular asylum is no longer given as a matter of course. Those from war zones are given temporary residence permits which do not extend the right of family reunification. Life is being made very unpleasant. for undesirables. A temporary residence permit is only valid in the country that issues it. I knew a number of Septics in Spain who came to regret their choice of European state but had to accept their plight because they’d have to return to the USA and apply for another permit.Sinn Féin only rose to prominence after the IRA was effectively disbanded and violence was explicitly repudiated. Prior to this, the main Catholic party was the moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party. It’s a typically Northern Irish paradox that peace resulted not in moderation, but in the more doctrinaire DUP and Sinn Féin taking power with historically more moderate parties — the UUP and SDLP — marginalised.

  6. March 5, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    So the new de facto borders will be between GB/Eire and GB/NI?

  7. March 5, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Sent me to Coventry have you ? I take that as a compliment.

  8. March 5, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Janus: The existing arrangement is likely to be continued. The UK and Ireland have had a sui generis relationship since the 1920s and have shared a common travel area since 1923. The British government has ruled out making any changes and the EU, at the Republic of Ireland’s request, has stated that it will not interfere with that arrangement. It’s a muddle, but it’s a settlement that works for the overwhelming majority.

  9. March 5, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    The fact that this arrangement has existed since the 20s means nothing.
    When it was set up no one envisaged the EU.
    Whatever the politicians say when and if we leave the EU this arrangement will have to be errr…..re arranged ?!

  10. March 5, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Jazz: Depending on what sort of trade deal is negotiated there might be some bureaucratic changes involving certain industries, but there is ample precedent of pre-existing arrangements receiving special legal protections.

  11. March 5, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    As in grandfather terms?

  12. March 5, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    As in grandfather terms?

  13. March 5, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Janus: Grandfather terms, precisely. The border situation would be at the sixes and sevens otherwise. So far, despite heated rhetoric last year, cooler heads have prevailed. It seems some sort of workable settlement will be found.

  14. March 5, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    The question is – Can this pre existing arrangement be made to work ? I don’t see how it can given that Ireland will be part of any (or no) trade deal between the EU and the UK.
    Supposing there is no trade deal with the EU and we revert to WTO rules and there is a circa 4% tariff on imports and exports. Then Eire could become a back door to and from the EU for people, goods and services. Raises the bizarre prospect of Mercedes shipping cars to the UK through Ireland. I know that’s highly unlikely, however I don’t think that the current cozy arrangement can stand. The problem never arose in the past because Eire became a member of the Common Market very shortly before us and in any case at that time 1972/3 the Common Market hadn’t yet morphed into the unwieldy monster it has become.
    An arrangement could be made between reasonable parties i.e ourselves and Ireland however that won’t happen because Brussels will call the shots for Eire.

  15. March 5, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Jazz: Politics is the art of the possible. The EU can be incredibly creative in how it interprets laws — especially when relevant powers make it clear that a certain outcome is the only one that will be accepted. The cat is out of the bag and the EU has acknowledged the possibility that powers can be returned, that some countries can become more integrated than others. The EU has also in the past given special dispensation to countries to continue existing arrangements with neighbouring countries.

  16. March 5, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    You may have a point. But the current arrangement won’t stand.

  17. March 5, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    And Mr Juncker, the Great Fiddler, has been advised he can’t simply send the UK a bill for leaving!

  18. March 5, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Jazz:Six of one, half a dozen of another.

    Janus: Juncker is paying the price for inconveniencing the powers that be. He has little support and Luxembourg has no real clout. The British government is making all the right moves. It will not be dictated to, but it is willing to consider — on its terms — the concerns of both sides. The main concerns of the other member states are considered and addressed leaving the EU with little choice but to concede.

  19. christinaosborne
    March 5, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    What an entertaining thought! That the 60′ walls between the Protestants and Catholics might one day have both cowering behind to defend themselves from ravening ragheads invading from Dublin!
    Splendid stuff.
    Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch!

  20. March 5, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    CO: Not bloody likely! Ireland’s a bit stingy, dole-wise. Actually, the lot are growing embittered and disillusioned — even begging to leave — because they are seeing their support cut to nothing and the locals aren’t happy to see them. In Sweden they’re given barely over £200 a month. They’re better off home with that little support.

  21. christinaosborne
    March 5, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Oh come on, don’t be a spoilsport! The thought of the Irish fighting the ragheads is absolutely entrancing!
    Chuck in the yids and they could keep that pot boiling for another millennia, no trouble!!!
    The rest of us could then have some peace and quiet.
    Wouldn’t need any birth control with that lot at it either. Too busy killing each other to procreate fast enough, Wonderful idea!

  22. March 5, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    CO: I’m not entirely sure I’d want that sort of war being fought that close to me. Better to drop them off in some god-awful hovel like Massachusetts or Oregon and let them sort themselves out there. Best leave Jews out of it — Jews actually contribute something to humanity and we’d be in a bad position if Israeli technology was disrupted.

  23. christinaosborne
    March 5, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Just leave them in Ireland and stop the ferries.
    Which would be a massive godsend in itself. All is well until you pass Anglesey and then the Irish Sea gets you. I always have to take a private cabin so I can lay spreadeagled on the floor puking! No wonder the Irish can be so bloody ghastly!
    One of the great reasons I hate travelling am very easily sick except in trains.
    Aisle seats with a quick sprint to the bogs every time for me and when I get there I get food poisoning. Jesus I’d pay NOT to go virtually anywhere these days having had to go in my yoof for work.

  24. March 5, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    CO: I’ve met some perfectly lovely Irish and it is a rather pretty country. It’s still a strange place — generations of nationalist propaganda and the growing awareness that the Irish, perhaps, were always their own worse enemies. I always crossed the Irish Sea by aeroplane. I’m not too fond of ferries — except,perhaps, for short rides. I was miffed when I had to alight in Denmark and sit on a bloody ferry on the way to Hunland. January and the bloody Baltic isn’t exactly balmy!

    After my last flight I’ve had enough for a time. It took me 5 days to regain something resembling a normal sleep pattern. That, and bloody Yanks can turn the most mundane procedure into a human rights violation. For at least a year I intend to limit myself to one-hour Luxembourg-London flights.

  25. March 5, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    I too am a landlubber, Mrs J is the opposite. So embarrassing. If you found the Baltic a bit choppy, CT, don’t sail to Oslo! I used the Esbjerg-Harwich route regularly, at huge personal cost! 😱

  26. christinaosborne
    March 5, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Christopher, I advise you not to pursue acquaintance with the bloody Irish. My first husband was, enough already!
    I also had an Irish head chef who tried to murder me, the boy and I saw him off with a lead pipe filled with sand and me with a shot gun and threw his possessions out of an upstairs window. Brilliant Michelin trained chef with too great a penchant for the bottle, blind drunk of course. Most irritatingly lost my gun licence over that.
    Rule of thumb, the only good one is a dead one once again! As I told the police, had I intended to kill him I would have done so, two barrels over his head to speed him on his way out of the car park was hardly attempted murder. A tight choke and a large ball size would have had him had I so desired at that range. They seemed to think it was quite reasonable too after the boy had a serious go at them. Plus he had robbed me of money, he left the district rather hurriedly. But I had to sell my Browning, seriously pissing off!
    All my prejudices have been learnt by direct experience not hearsay. those are just two examples of the bloody irish, there were more. I avoid them like the plague these days have for over twenty years.
    Every time I go home someone in the pub wants a re run of that tale! Never had any trouble since, one wonders why?!

  27. christinaosborne
    March 5, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    One of the major aggravations of large pubs/restauant/ with accommodation is having to have staff in residence. Need eyes in the back of your head and very good locks!

  28. christinaosborne
    March 5, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Anyway must leave and go and do equally exciting things, potting up onions in the greenhouse! Bloody raining again, skin going green!

  29. March 5, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Janus: In December I used the Frederikshavn-Oslo route. The weather was tolerable, but I spent the majority of the time sleeping. I’d really prefer a short flight to that!

    CO: Ireland is far from my favourite country. The people were largely pleasant enough, but I never felt entirely at ease there. Having lived in California I’ve grown extremely adept at seeing through veneers. Ireland is a superficially pleasant country, but there’s little behind that exterior. It’s fine for a few days but I’d rather not spend more time there than that.

  30. March 6, 2017 at 6:08 am

    CO, call me suspicious, but how come you had ‘a lead pipe filled with sand’ conveniently to hand? Does every maitre d’ keep one? 😉

  31. March 6, 2017 at 7:28 am

    CT, maybe the Irish of all persuasions suffer from an ingrained insecurity, given their histories of subjugation and deprivation. I have had business dealings with several aggressive Irishmen who seemed incapable of behaving moderately!

  32. christinaosborne
    March 6, 2017 at 7:59 am

    The lead pipe was the boy’s weapon of choice, made very carefully with the sand only in the first 9″ or so.
    He had it for years just tucked under his bed in case of disturbance in the night.
    That was not the worse under that bed, I was once busy vacuuming and kept hitting something squishy. Got down, looked in, saw this roll and dragged out a weeping stick of gelignite!!!
    I did rather draw the line at that one.
    Evidently it had been there years! I made him take it down the river very gently and blow up an old tree trunk. i wasn’t having it left in a field and end up with minced cow everywhere.
    Very easily available in Mid Wales, used a lot by the forestry commission to blow holes for fencing posts into solid rock on steep slopes. Most fencing companies of any size have a license to hold and use. I gather he took it as a trade for some nefarious deal. He was a good junior electrician!
    What with bar keeping and ‘garden’ electrics he had his first degree without any debt. He knew several people on oil rigs in the Gulf and always picked up a summer job out there mainly CAD of fire systems etc. Very versatile that child!

    Re the Irish, drink is generally the problem! I do agree that they are generally pugnacious, very quick to fight when they have downed a few. Fortunately never my kind of custom. you should hear what happens in Pembroke Dock where the Irish ferry docks. They have been ‘at it’ since Henry VIII’s time!

    I always kept a loaded shotgun under my bed, not only did I have my own takings but a Post Office too!

    It is a standing joke that it is not West Wales, but ‘Wild West’ Wales, so much more entertaining than other places.

  33. March 6, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Janus: The problem with Irish history is that far too much of it is Nationalist balderdash. The Irish spent most of their history making life miserable for… The Irish. There were Viking, Norman, English and Scots dimensions in Ireland’s long series of tragedies and disasters — but the Irish must take responsibility for their failures. Ireland does not have a more tragic history than, say, Finland or Hunland — and don’t forget that Hunland only lost its historic regions after the Second World War. Until the late 19th century, Hunland was vulnerable to invasion, subjugation and deprivation. In recent generations Ireland’s poverty, social distress and dysfunction came not from British policies but from the death grip that the Church held over the country.

    CO: I’m at a loss. Your life in Wales and the southern regions of Planet ‘MURCA seems to have been fantastically interesting. How can you survive the dullest part of North America?

  34. March 6, 2017 at 9:34 am

    I sometimes wonder if there had been a referendum in 1921 Irish would have voted for independence.

  35. March 6, 2017 at 9:38 am

    CT, the fact that Finns and Huns have had a bad time too does not diminish my sympathy for the Irish, who were the subject of our chat. England treated them atrociously for centuries and supported the protestant sects in the north against the catholic majority throughout the island. I can only conclude that the Finns and Huns were equally responsible for their sorry state?

  36. March 6, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Jazz: Most likely, yes. David Lloyd George mishandled the situation in Ireland so badly that union was no longer possible. The Easter Rising was not supported by most in Ireland. Even many who favoured home rule thought that such was a terrible idea in the middle of an international conflict of some magnitude. Lloyd George, much to his eternal discredit, turned what was a violent minority insurrection into an Irish vs British conflict. The Free State was the least bad of all options.

    Janus: The Ascendency acted on their own interests independently of London. Nasty pieces of work, generally, and one cannot help but feel a tinge of contempt for them. Other than that, the English were no more brutal in their treatment of the Irish than was customary for the time. “Presentism” — judging the past by the standards of the present — is an extremely easy trap to fall into. I did not say that the Irish were treated kindly.

    Finland’s growth was stunted for centuries by Sweden’s use of Finns as cannon fodder and absolute control over Österland’s resources, never mind the wars fought between the Swedes and Russians in that region prior to Finland being left to the tender mercies of Russia. Naturally, ethnic Swedes continued to utterly control the economy in that region. The difference is that Finns didn’t spend generations post-independence in stagnation blaming Sweden and Russia. Despite yet another brutal war, Finland built itself up to something resembling a functional, modern state. The Huns didn’t languish for generations blaming the Frogs, et. al for their misfortunes. Hunland was ruined, Hunland was rebuilt.

  37. cogitationator
    March 6, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    CT: Sometimes one just needs a bit of dullness. This is something on which, for once, my wife and I are in perfect agreement. Neither of us likes crowds, traffic, etc., and we’d have remained well clear of Seattle except for the garden show last week. (We now both have terrible colds – see how dangerous cities can be?) True, we must be ever vigilant against the threat of invasion by hordes of maple syrup-crazed Canadians, but any would-be terrorists among them just pass right on through on their way to someplace worth bombing. I mean, there’s not much point in blowing up a few cattle – except, of course, to the cattle themselves.

  38. March 6, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    Cog: I am in complete agreement with the dislike of crowds, traffic and vectors. Two days in London and I’ve suffered through the presence of enough people to exhaust me for at least three lifetimes — hence my preference for Dorset over the South East.Never trust Canadians! They seem nice until hockey starts. One of the most profound transformations I’ve ever seen was in Québec. The pretty, reserved Québécoise waitress turned into a foaming-at-the-mouth maniac.

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