So where next?

SKBAC

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When you leave all the bluster and sectarian needling to one side, the principal message to have emerged from the latest census seems to be that most people simply want to get on with their lives. Issues pertaining to flags and culture and all the other tribal minutia that will remain of overarching concern on websites like this, seem to have little relevance out there in the real world. Increasingly, it seems the man on the street is happy to acknowledge the amalgamation of identities that is Northern Ireland. He is happy to move on.

I'm a republican, but I am one in the original sense of the word, meaning that I respect the principle of listening to what the people have to say, regardless of whether it's what I personally want to hear or not. We have to be honest with ourselves in terms of how the the wind is blowing in Northern Ireland. We have to accept that people simply no longer want to play a part in the "us versus them" nonsense that has defined the place since the troubles first broke out. The growing obsolescence of zero-sum politics in the province is embodied in the amalgamation of identities that last year's census has served to highlight. It should be respected.

What does 'respect' mean in this context? It means accepting that, while a journey remains ahead for nationalists, the destination is no longer so clear.

I'd be interested in hearing people's opinion on what that destination should be.
 
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ArtyisBack

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When you leave all the bluster and sectarian needling to one side, the principal message to have emerged from the latest census seems to be that most people simply want to get on with their lives. Issues pertaining to flags and culture and all the other tribal minutia that will remain of overarching concern on websites like this, seem to have little relevance out there in the real world. Increasingly, it seems the man on the street is happy to acknowledge the amalgamation of identities that is Northern Ireland. He is happy to move on.

I'm a republican, but I am one in the original sense of the word, meaning that I respect the principle of listening to what the people have to say, regardless of whether it's what I personally want to hear or not. We have to be honest with ourselves in terms of how the the wind is blowing in Northern Ireland. We have to accept that people simply no longer want to play a part in the "us versus them" nonsense that has defined the place since the troubles first broke out. The growing obsolescence of zero-sum politics in the province is embodied in the amalgamation of identities that last year's census has served to highlight. It should be respected.

What does 'respect' mean in this context? It means accepting that, while a journey remains ahead nationalists, the destination is no longer so clear.

I'd be interested in hearing people's opinion on what that destination should be.
Today Belfast - tomorrow United Ireland. Only within that constitutional framework will there be stability.
 

DavidCaldwell

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We do not need to agree on the destination. It suffices to agree on a method for deciding each next step - like "follow the river".

One method chould be that of Monnet and Schumacher in building, after the Second World War, what became the European Union - "Find areas where a consensus can be achieved. Make progress in these areas".

Another method would be to follow the policy (official SDLP policy?) of "First unite the people". I would imagine both would come to much the same thing.
 

factual

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When you leave all the bluster and sectarian needling to one side, the principal message to have emerged from the latest census seems to be that most people simply want to get on with their lives. Issues pertaining to flags and culture and all the other tribal minutia that will remain of overarching concern on websites like this, seem to have little relevance out there in the real world. Increasingly, it seems the man on the street is happy to acknowledge the amalgamation of identities that is Northern Ireland. He is happy to move on.

I'm a republican, but I am one in the original sense of the word, meaning that I respect the principle of listening to what the people have to say, regardless of whether it's what I personally want to hear or not. We have to be honest with ourselves in terms of how the the wind is blowing in Northern Ireland. We have to accept that people simply no longer want to play a part in the "us versus them" nonsense that has defined the place since the troubles first broke out. The growing obsolescence of zero-sum politics in the province is embodied in the amalgamation of identities that last year's census has served to highlight. It should be respected.

What does 'respect' mean in this context? It means accepting that, while a journey remains ahead nationalists, the destination is no longer so clear.

I'd be interested in hearing people's opinion on what that destination should be.
A very thoughtful post SKBAC. I agree with your type of noble republican values, which I also share.

I completely agree with moving away from "them and us". I think first of all that the census really shows that we can't hold to a "them and us" society for very much longer. The headcounting doesn't really work any more. 18% of people now say they are neither Protestant nor Catholic, and even when NISRA try to allocate them anyway using the religion they were brought up in, there are still 6% of people who are left unallocated. Those that are not one side or the other will go up I belive, as that is a trend.

Yes there are unionists there are nationalists - and it remains important to acknowledge that - but its also time to accept its a lot more complex than that. There are many kinds of unionists from liberal to loyal, each with a legitimate contribution to make. And there are many kinds of nationalists and republicans from those who are Northern Irish to those that reject that.

Outreach work between all sides is important but we must make sure that outreach is not a political posture but rather something real and for a purpose of building a better society.
 
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between the bridges

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but in a way i agree with arty...next we will get the west brits to rejoin the commonwealth so by the time King Billy V becomes HMK we will be re-united under the crown...
 

factual

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When you leave all the bluster and sectarian needling to one side, the principal message to have emerged from the latest census seems to be that most people simply want to get on with their lives. Issues pertaining to flags and culture and all the other tribal minutia that will remain of overarching concern on websites like this, seem to have little relevance out there in the real world. Increasingly, it seems the man on the street is happy to acknowledge the amalgamation of identities that is Northern Ireland. He is happy to move on.

I'm a republican, but I am one in the original sense of the word, meaning that I respect the principle of listening to what the people have to say, regardless of whether it's what I personally want to hear or not. We have to be honest with ourselves in terms of how the the wind is blowing in Northern Ireland. We have to accept that people simply no longer want to play a part in the "us versus them" nonsense that has defined the place since the troubles first broke out. The growing obsolescence of zero-sum politics in the province is embodied in the amalgamation of identities that last year's census has served to highlight. It should be respected.

What does 'respect' mean in this context? It means accepting that, while a journey remains ahead for nationalists, the destination is no longer so clear.

I'd be interested in hearing people's opinion on what that destination should be.
Just another point. You said yesterday that "I would argue that Irish unity is a non-starter until that province finds some kind of peace with itself." I agree with this-developing society to be less divided and building up a group of people that do not buy into "them and us". We in Dublin need to thin of ways of bringing that about. Administering a UI would be much less problematic if the "them and us" approach has been diminished and superceded with a more modern pluralist outlook.

I also think that NI needs to devlop economically, as there is a lot about the problems up there that stem ultimately from poverty, economic poverty, lack of training, and lack of economic opportinity and ambition.

The more modern pluralist outlook on live - that puts aside "them and us" - goes hand in hand with a more modern and productive economy where opportunities are available to people.
 

between the bridges

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Just another point. You said yesterday that "I would argue that Irish unity is a non-starter until that province finds some kind of peace with itself." I agree with this-developing society to be less divided and building up a group of people that do not buy into "them and us". We in Dublin need to thin of ways of bringing that about.

I also think that NI needs to devlop economically, as there is a lot about the problems up there that stem ultimately from poverty, economic poverty, lack of training, and lack of economic opportinity and ambition.
you could try and be less condescending...
 

SKBAC

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Today Belfast - tomorrow United Ireland. Only within that constitutional framework will there be stability.
What do you mean by 'united' though? Take a look at Belfast over the past couple of weeks and unity seems further away than ever. I'm not sure whether simply moving a red line on a map will change anything.


One method chould be that of Monnet and Schumacher in building, after the Second World War, what became the European Union - "Find areas where a consensus can be achieved. Make progress in these areas"
David Caldwell,

I'd be inclined to agree. But how do you move from theory to practice? For example, I genuinely believe that flying the union flag on designated days is the most appropriate solution to the cultural impasse at Belfast City Hall. Obviously, unionists don't see it that way and feel as though it's an attack on them rather an attempt at inclusivity.

If nationalists really believe in designated days, which is a perfectly legitimate position, then perhaps putting their money where their mouth is might be the way to go? Why not allow the union flag to fly over nationalist dominated councils a few days each year- not because they themselves feel British, but because the unionists do. Such a move would salve tempers, wrong-foot the extremists, and vindicate the decent people on the other side who currently find themselves marginalised, ie, Basil McCrea.
 

Glaucon

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Why not allow the union flag to fly over nationalist dominated councils a few days each year- not because they themselves feel British, but because the unionists do. Such a move would salve tempers, wrong-foot the extremists, and vindicate the decent people on the other side who currently find themselves marginalised, ie, Basil McCrea.
That would be logical and an advisable course of action if we lived in a calculating, non-emotional world.
As it is, the Union flag symbolizes Nationalists' status as a conquered people. That is why it will never be flown on Nationalist councils; and why people in the Republic eschew it whenever possible and replace it with English, Scottish and Welsh flags.
 

SKBAC

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Outreach work between all sides is important but we must make sure that outreach is not a political posture but rather something real and for a purpose of building a better society.
In fairness, I think that people are already reaching out themselves, and in that sense the general population are already lightyears ahead of their politicians. With honourable exception.
 

SKBAC

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That would be logical and an advisable course of action if we lived in a calculating, non-emotional world.
As it is, the Union flag symbolizes Nationalists' status as a conquered people. That is why it will never be flown on Nationalist councils; and why people in the Republic eschew it whenever possible and replace it with English, Scottish and Welsh flags.
Perhaps it's time to get a bit more non-emotional? That's what I was alluding to when I spoke of the census relaying some harsh truths. It's not so much what the flag means to nationalists as what it means to unionists in scenarios such as this. How freaked would they be if the union jack went up in Newry 10 days a year? What kind of good-will do you think such a move might earn?
 

between the bridges

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What do you mean by 'united' though? Take a look at Belfast over the past couple of weeks and unity seems further away than ever. I'm not sure whether simply moving a red line on a map will change anything.




David Caldwell,

I'd be inclined to agree. But how do you move from theory to practice? For example, I genuinely believe that flying the union flag on designated days is the most appropriate solution to the cultural impasse at Belfast City Hall. Obviously, unionists don't see it that way and feel as though it's an attack on them rather an attempt at inclusivity.

If nationalists really believe in designated days, which is a perfectly legitimate position, then perhaps putting their money where their mouth is might be the way to go? Why not allow the union flag to fly over nationalist dominated councils a few days each year- not because they themselves feel British, but because the unionists do. Such a move would salve tempers, wrong-foot the extremists, and vindicate the decent people on the other side who currently find themselves marginalised, ie, Basil McCrea.
based on a handful of people at various protests? 99% of unionists haven't taken to the streets! as for all councils flying the flag on designated days imho SF&SDLP have painted themselves into a corner but the DUP/UUP have been too thick to capitalize on it...
 

Glaucon

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Perhaps it's time to get a bit more non-emotional? That's what I was alluding to when I spoke of the census relaying some harsh truths. It's not so much what the flag means to nationalists as what it means to unionists in scenarios such as this. How freaked would they be if the union jack went up in Newry 10 days a year? What kind of good-will do you think such a move might earn?
It'd earn very little, let's be honest.
And it's not just in the North where flags and emblems cause continual problems:

The Canadian flag was removed from its spot inside the Quebec legislature as members of the pro-independence Parti Quebecois took the oath of office Monday.

The removal of the Maple Leaf was part of a longstanding see-saw ritual: it had been long absent in the legislature but was restored nine years ago when Jean Charest’s Liberals took office and placed it next to the Quebec flag at the Speaker’s chair in the building’s ceremonial chamber.
While the Canadian flag was gone, for the Parti Quebecois, there was still no escaping the Queen.

Every member of the PQ caucus swore an oath to the monarch, which is a prerequisite for taking office in Canada. This after the party had complained during the campaign about the increased presence of the Crown under the Harper Conservatives.

One newly elected Pequiste, 20-year-old Leo Bureau-Blouin, had offered only the mildest protest on his Twitter account. He posted that part of the oath on his Twitter feed and included his own two-word complaint: “Good grief.”
Canadian flag taken down, replaced with Fleur-de-lis, at Quebec legislature as PQ takes oath of office | Canadian Politics | Canada | News | National Post

We can, in all likelihood, expect much more of this going forward as the internal greening process takes place.
 

SKBAC

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based on a handful of people at various protests? 99% of unionists haven't taken to the streets! as for all councils flying the flag on designated days imho SF&SDLP have painted themselves into a corner but the DUP/UUP have been too thick to capitalize on it...
I don't want the thread to morph into an argument about flags, but it's reasonable to point out that all the major unionist parties have condemned the city hall decision. I'd agree that the protests have been small though, which merely underlines my original point that most people just want to get on with their lives. In my opinion, designated days is right. But there lies an opportunity for nationalists to calm things down and be magnanimous by letting thing fly in Armagh for a week each year or something. At least that way they can say to unionists, "we're trying at least"
 

Glaucon

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You're never going to get it completely green though. Never completely.
Of course not. Quebec, for example, will never be entirely "blue" French-speaking. But Nationalists will still push to remove the Crown and Canadian symbols and "Unionists" will hit back and try to replace them.

You'll see the same in Northern Ireland. There will never be a united "Northern Irish people", history shows that, save according to one side or the other imposing their preference. The question here is who it is going to be - and that has not yet been decided, despite Nationalists belief in "tick-tock".

We could easily see a "Nationalist" majority more than happy to remain within the United Kingdom and milk British transfer payments. It's happened in Quebec after all. As it stands, the British character of Northern Ireland remains the preference of the majority.
 


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