The handshake

by niamh on June 27, 2012

At last Sinn Féin have done it. They missed out on all the big symbolic moments of Queen Elizabeth’s official visit to Ireland last year. Then realized that they were way out of step with public opinion. Handshakes for slow learners. But better late than never.

{ 89 comments }

1

niamh 06.27.12 at 1:10 pm

Andreas Moser, I have deleted your offensive comment.

2

Niall McAuley 06.27.12 at 1:51 pm

One is wearing green.

3

Eimear Ní Mhéalóid 06.27.12 at 2:33 pm

I suppose the late Cllr Michael Brown was guilty of premature anti-antimonarchism.

4

bert 06.27.12 at 2:35 pm

If we weren’t used to it, we’d be equally struck by Peter Robinson looking on with a smile. As recently as the mid ’80s he was dressing up like this. There are reasons to be unhappy with the EU, and the near future is likely to add to them. But a Life-of-Brian-style “what has Europe ever done for us” would feature Northern Ireland very prominently.

Speaking of which, aren’t Sinn Féin eurosceptics these days?

5

John M. 06.27.12 at 2:39 pm

Sinn Féin have always been against the EU, in all its forms. They are just somewhat less explicit about their Marxist ideology than they used to be. And I too once shook hands with Martin McGuinness, so that’s me only one degree of separation from the Queen.

6

bert 06.27.12 at 3:00 pm

The DUP are eurosceptic too, of course.

7

bert 06.27.12 at 3:17 pm

bq. Sinn Féin have always been against the EU, in all its forms.

Not quite all its forms. They fought the last European elections on a policy of joining the euro. I’m not blind to the reasoning behind that, which I would imagine is obvious to everyone. And I’m not telling you you’re wrong because you’re right, overall.

8

bert 06.27.12 at 3:19 pm

Also, the DUP are plenty eurosceptic too.
(An observation I posted a couple of minutes ago, but seems to have been swallowed by moderation. It happens sometimes.)

9

niamh 06.27.12 at 3:22 pm

SF have indeed always been anti-EU. Their recent slogan was ‘be positive, vote no’ (Gerry Adams is always flanked by women. This is not accidental).
But they still expect the EU to continue to pour out the loans. They argued, apparently quite seriously, that there wouldn’t be any negative consequences if Ireland failed to ratify the fiscal treaty in the recent referendum and the money would still flow unimpeded. Like in Northern Ireland perhaps. Well, maybe yes, maybe no; I am deeply unconvinced.
People are starting to catch on to their singular views about public moneys in Britain. Their practices are attracting a bit more attention in the South recently.
SF haven’t quite caught up with all the principles of constitutionality (yet?). But the handshake is a good move all the same.

10

Ciaran 06.27.12 at 4:20 pm

What’s the eu got to do with the peace process?

11

John M. 06.27.12 at 4:22 pm

“They fought the last European elections on a policy of joining the euro.”

I missed that Bert – it would have been a NI/UK policy position (obviously) and as such passed me by. God bless them but they really are totally shameless (as Niamh’s links further illustrate).

12

rea 06.27.12 at 4:50 pm

I don’t know much about the politics involved, but it seems to me to be very statesperson-like on the part of the Queen to shake hands in the interests of peace with the leader of a group that assassinated a close member of her family.

13

Patrick S. O'Donnell 06.27.12 at 5:09 pm

I agee with the tenor of the post and “rea” above…and the wearing of green showed a different kind of class.

14

bert 06.27.12 at 5:33 pm

bq. What’s the eu got to do with the peace process?

Well, the Irish Question in its various forms over the years was fundamentally one of sovereignty, which has tended to be seen as absolute, and also zero-sum. The EU is about sharing sovereignty. There comes a point when you have to ask yourself how many people need blowing up in order to have the Commission’s directives implemented by one administration rather than another.

Beside that, there’s a very important practical effect. A generation of Irish officials has risen to the senior ranks dealing with British colleagues inside the EU on terms of absolute formal equality. Which is entirely as it should be, and is entirely helpful. It allowed bilateral alliances to emerge between state actors for the UK and the Republic which was absolutely essential for the peace process.

I also think the material progress in the Republic, and the social changes that came with it, was important. It made the west European model of peaceful coexistence and shared prosperity a credible thing to pin your hopes for the future on. Or it did, until 2008.

I’m London-based British, by the way. On this, I’d expect there to be a range of views. If there’s pushback from people on the ground who’ve lived through it I’m more than happy to hear it.
___________

By the way, it was green, but it was lime green.
The Brits are still messing with your heads, you know.

15

niamh 06.27.12 at 5:48 pm

Rea and Patrick – exactly so. The Queen already made a number of important symbolic gestures during her visit last year. But it’s very important in this particular photo that neither should seem to be condescending to the other, and I think this is how it is being played.
Ciaran – SF are on a long march through a swathe of institutions, and they aren’t too scrupulous about it either. They clearly aim to replace Fianna Fáil, long the dominant party in Ireland, which suffered catastrophic defeat in the 2011 general election; they’ve already done for the SDLP in the North.

16

Daragh McDowell 06.27.12 at 6:05 pm

@niamh as much as I loathe SF, the Independent has pursued a pretty solid campaign of condemnation against them for a while now. So while I applaud their diddling of expenses being caught out and reported, I don’t think it counts as people in the South ‘catching on’ nor will it do much to prevent their alarming rise in the polls. Unfortunately Indo criticisms of SF tend to bolster their support base.

There’s one thing about this latest round of reconciliation that I find deeply troubling – McGuinness still maintains the laughable fiction that he left the IRA in the 1970s, and Adams of course claims that he was never a member at all. This in effect allows them to have their cake and eat it, take credit as peacemakers without accepting any of the blame for the war. This is of course, an electoral calculation – its much easier for McGuinness’ press flacks to spin nauseating stories about him being an Irish Mandela, and to talk about the peace process and his and Gerry’s courageous statesmanship etc. if he can flat out deny some of his more heinous and unforgivable crimes. But that wasn’t the bargain made in 1998. The deal was, everyone atones for their sins, everyone is forgiven and we all make peace. SF and its leaders have effectively demanded absolution without admission, which makes me think the kind of truth and reconciliation needed to really reconcile the divisions in the north will be difficult, if not impossible to achieve.

17

Ciaran 06.27.12 at 6:17 pm

Bert Im going to have to strongly dIsagee with you there on pretty much all counts. Simon Jenkins quoted Conor cruise obrein to the effect that the peace process would end when the protagonists started to crave respectability in middle age. Certainly it’s hard to see what tremendous difference there is between the current dispensation and the sunnungdale agreement . Yet the same feckers how brought done sunningdale are quite happy with the agreement now that they get there bums in ministerial mercs. I don’t see the economic success of the tepunl

18

Ciaran 06.27.12 at 6:27 pm

Bert Im going to have to strongly dIsagee with you there on pretty much all counts. Simon Jenkins quoted Conor cruise obrein to the effect that the peace process would end when the protagonists started to crave respectability in middle age. Certainly it’s hard to see what tremendous difference there is between the current dispensation and the sunnungdale agreement . Yet the same feckers how brought done sunningdale are quite happy with the agreement now that they get there bums in ministerial mercs. I don’t see the economic success of the republic as having anything to do with it either , I saw a quote from a nationalist in the 70s that he would rather see northern Irish children starving in rags under the tricolour than live under British ruler and of course the only reason the unionist have went along with things is precisely that they realise the republic has and will have absolutely no hand in northern matters.

Lots more to be said but I’ill just say I think it’s a bit of a cliche (I don’t mean to be rude ) to say oh the Eu has meant that national sovereignty and aspirations for self determination are no longer relevant. I’m really not seeing it. It’s seems like pretty much every region in Spain has an independence movement, not to mention Belgium and northern Italy and of course Scotland

19

rf 06.27.12 at 6:29 pm

Bert

I can’t really claim any expertise, so am open to correction, but I would have thought the most important factors were the infiltration of the paramilitaries by British intelligence agencies, combined with the slow political progress of those that genuinely wanted to end the war, both within and between the various actors. I wouldn’t have thought southern social changes and economic prosperity were that important a factor. Once again though, I’m open to correction.

“as much as I loathe SF, the Independent has pursued a pretty solid campaign of condemnation against them for a while now.”

I agree, the endless strawmanning of Sinn Fein must be the most tiresome feature of Irish political life, and a useful way of diverting attention from implementing any reforms that might actually be relevant. (Btw – Do you not write for the Sindo? Would you not bring it up at the next editorial meeting?!) (And just let me add the obligatory Sinn Fein are a joke, which is true, if largely irrelevant)

20

Daragh McDowell 06.27.12 at 7:13 pm

@rf I freelance for the Sindo, but am not an employee so I’m afraid I don’t have a seat on the war council. And I’m sure I could be accused of the same strawmanning. Its a bit tough – on the one hand you have Aengus O’Snodaigh looting the Dail stationery cupboards thus confirming what a bunch of petty thugs SF really are, but if you keep pointing it out you get tiresome.

21

Anderson 06.27.12 at 7:14 pm

What Rea said. It’s right for HRH to be forgiving publicly, but I’m much more impressed by her than by McGuinness here. It’s not like she actually controlled policy against SF.

22

rf 06.27.12 at 7:17 pm

“And I’m sure I could be accused of the same strawmanning”

Na I wouldn’t say that and didn’t mean to imply it!

23

Daragh McDowell 06.27.12 at 7:23 pm

@rf Apologies – didn’t mean to imply you did. I have written on them but not published yet…

24

Hidari 06.27.12 at 8:20 pm

25

EWI 06.27.12 at 8:30 pm

“Handshakes for slow learners. But better late than never.”

Indeed. How long did it take the British establishment to cotton on that the six counties wasn’t just as British as the home counties. after all?

@ rea

I’ve never voted for Sinn Féin, and never will. But magnaminity is going both ways – Queenie being the head of the British forces and establishment that created this mess, her son being the patron of the very same Parachute Regiment which murdered unarmed civil rights protestors, which event brought a young Martin McGuinness to join the Provisional IRA. But mentioning that of course spoils the smug narrative.

@ Daragh McDowell

If SF raiding the Dáil printer supplies ‘reveals’ them to be “petty thugs” in the eyes of the Indo, what does that make the FF/FG/Lab politicians who spam me with endless Dáil-letterheaded mail all year around? Just a thought.

26

Shay Begorrah 06.27.12 at 8:50 pm

Then realized that they were way out of step with public opinion. Handshakes for slow learners. But better late than never.

I think it is pretty hard to put a negative spin on this from Sinn Fein’s point of view.

Doing the deed later rather than earlier was less likely to annoy their own base and the news story is a welcome publicity boost among the section of potential left voters in the Irish republic yet to leave the middle class comfort zone – remember that the Irish Labour party has been badly wounded by their position on the Fiscal Compact among younger and more politically aware voters.

The “slow learners” reference seems pretty wide of the mark too but then the UWC which actually brought down Sunningdale seems to have escaped the collective memory of Ireland’s post nationalists.

27

ajay 06.27.12 at 9:17 pm

“They fought the last European elections on a policy of joining the euro. I’m not blind to the reasoning behind that, which I would imagine is obvious to everyone. “

…they regard it as another way of causing billions of pounds worth of damage to the City of London, this time without needing to use unmarked vans?

…they have a historical fondness for large unaccountable institutions run from Germany that cause avoidable suffering and misery for millions of people across Europe in the name of unifying it, and they thought this might look better than trying to team up with the Nazis again?

28

EWI 06.27.12 at 9:24 pm

…they have a history of showing solidarity with the suffering of the Spanish people against Fascists and Germans?

…they think this is a stepping-tone towards greater Irish unity?

29

EWI 06.27.12 at 9:29 pm

*stepping-stone

I have an OT question – I saw Moon last night for the first time. I seem to recall a CT post somewhere that actually mentioned this film, can anyone remember what it was (may have been actually a comment/comments to a post, either)

30

rf 06.27.12 at 9:34 pm

31

purple 06.27.12 at 10:03 pm

Don’t like sectariansim, but you guys act like Sinn Fein and the Provos had no public support during the Troubles. Of course, they did, and there are reasons for that which make you too nervous to discuss. I mean the whole Bobby Sands M.P. (hardly a pacifist mind you) thing kind of settled this question of popular support.

This post could have been about understanding the reality of Northern Ireland in the Troubles . Instead it is just feckless tongue clicking.

32

bos 06.27.12 at 10:03 pm

*stepping-tone [stet]

mood music sounds much more apposite than anything either side could possibly wipe their feet on.

33

Daragh McDowell 06.27.12 at 10:04 pm

@EWI – oh FFS. There’s a difference between an allowance for mailshots being allocated and used, and taking 50K worth of toner cartridges (and subsequently claiming you’ll donate them to a charity, and having to be shamed into doing so…)

34

EWI 06.27.12 at 10:28 pm

@ rf

That might be it. I saw Sam waking up in the second act, and remembered what was now clearly spoiler on what was going on. I had thought that this was from a recent CT thread.

@ Darragh McDowell

How many households in the State, and how many letters are sent under the Dáil letterhead scam to each and every one? If my letterbox is any indication, the answer is “a lot”.

@ bos

It does, doesn’t it. A plague on all their houses in that picture.

35

bert 06.27.12 at 10:39 pm

Ciaran, RF –
Sorry for not responding sooner.
I was out watching football. ¡Ay caramba!

The only time the thought “George W Bush has done the right thing here” ever crossed my mind was when he responded to a grubby pub killing by stopping Gerry Adams swanning around Washington for St Patrick’s Day, as had become his habit. You’re right that the leadership’s hunger for the perks of high politics was a strong motivating factor, was widely understood, and was widely used as an incentive to draw them away from violence. As an aside, I can’t say I’m thrilled that the centre parties that did so much of the early work have ended up losing out so comprehensively to the former hard men. The SDLP in particular (who, by the way, were consistently pro-European).

The contrast between Sinn Féin and the Scot Nats is interesting. In Scotland, Europe was the land of milk and honey at the end of the nationalist rainbow. Indeed, they’re just now hitting a spot of trouble trying to reverse their way out of a longstanding commitment to join the euro. In Ireland, by contrast, Europe was the thoroughly mainstream religion of the main parties of government. I’m too lazy and a bit too drunk to check, but I think I’m right in saying that for a good two decades, between 5 and 10% of Irish GDP came direct from the EU budget, each and every year, through the CAP and later the Structural Funds. When Ireland got rich, one of the key pillars underpinnning the inward investment of the Celtic Tiger years was access to the Single Market (the other was low corporate tax rates, obviously nothing to do with the EU). Europe meant wealth, and it also meant the advance of secularism, an international outlook, an openness to cultural influence, and an increasingly relaxed confidence about Ireland’s place in the world. None of these things were a help to those advocating violent separatism.

You’ll notice that none of my explanations claim direct cause and effect. Europe set the context, and the influence of Europe doesn’t exclude a role for other factors. I have to say though that a wartime victory for the security services doesn’t appeal to me as a theory. A preference on all sides for that kind of deep state guff is one of the things that prevents Italy from being treated seriously as a country. I’m sure if you spoke to a spook they’d encourage you to believe it. Who’s to say though?

Ajay, the Shinner euro stance is a puzzle, and your theories are excellent. EWI is closest with his/her final one, though, I think. It would serve to unite the island of Ireland, at the expense of ties across the Irish Sea.

36

EWI 06.27.12 at 11:23 pm

<iThe contrast between Sinn Féin and the Scot Nats is interesting.

Why so? I’d think Scots Nats are more comparable (in class and politics) to a less social-democrat SDLP…

37

rf 06.27.12 at 11:37 pm

“I’m too lazy and a bit too drunk to check”

You’re a surprisingly articulate drunk. I’d just be incoherently baiting Ajay.

Just to clear up, I wouldn’t have gone so far as to say a wartime victory for the security forces; but it was always ‘a limited war’ that the main political players on all sides knew they couldn’t win, it was just about when the time to make a deal would come. Perhaps what was happening in the Republic had some relevance, but I think the communities just became war weary, the paramilitaries less effective, and there was the bones of a political deal to build on with the political will in Ireland, Britain and the US. I’m not sure the example the Republic set was all that important, (and how does it account for all sides being willing to bring it to an end), although I accept the point, just to a much more limited degree.

“Who’s to say though?”

S**t, we should have just asked Niamh.

38

EWI 06.28.12 at 12:56 am

and there was the bones of a political deal to build on with the political will in Ireland, Britain and the US.

The last is maybe the most important, I think. The Americans gave the Brits a blank cheque, who gave Unionism a blank cheque… and when that changed (Clinton) Hume-Adams had a chance.

39

Ed 06.28.12 at 2:52 am

@32 stepping-Tone, surely?

40

Random Lurker 06.28.12 at 7:48 am

On the relevance of the EU in the peace process in Ireland: two years ago, I spent two weeks for holydays in Ireland with a friend. We spent two nights in a town named Glencolumkille where are located some schools of Gaelic. many of the students were people of Irish origins that never had a relatives who spook Gaelic bit nevertheless believed that Gaelic was important for their identity.
For example many were Irish emigrants or descendants of emigrants.
There we met a guy from Belfast who also was learning Gaelic (I assumed he had nationalistic simpaties from this, bu I didn’t ask).
He also said that the Eu helped to ease tensions because, since both the UK and Eire are part of the EU, Ireland was already somehow unified. I think he also mentioned that it was easier to travel through the border (Shenghen?).

41

Random Lurker 06.28.12 at 7:49 am

I didn’t ask if he was a taxi driver, though.

42

Daragh McDowell 06.28.12 at 8:34 am

@EWI

First off, please spell my name properly.

Second, lets say 4 mln people, average of 3 per household and round it up to 1.5mln households total. O’Snodaigh took enough ink for 3 mln pages or one for every single household in the state per annum. My household averages about 5-6 Dail letters per year as a rough guesstimate (we may be on the low side, but you may be on the high.

By this estimate O’Snodaigh took somewhere between 10-20% of the entire annual expenditure for approved TD constituency communications out of the Dail cupboards. But as his own constituents have attested (see link above) many of his constituents have received nothing from him. There are also the associated costs of electricity etc. as Sen. Byrne points out.

In other words, one would have to be extremely obtuse not to see that O’Snodaigh was raiding the Dail’s coffers to fund SF election campaigns (or simply line his own pockets – we can’t know for sure) in clear contravention of the rules, and that while one might quibble with the ‘Dail letterhead scam’ it pales into insignificance when compared with the sums O’Snodaigh was looting.

43

niamh 06.28.12 at 9:12 am

rf, actually what I would like to write something about at some point is truth and justice institutions, lustration processes, and informal approaches to muddling through. They’ve all got different conditions to make them feasible; they’ve all got costs as well as benefits.
McGuinness standing for the Irish Presidency was a clear bid for auto-lustration. It didn’t work, for the reasons Darragh McDowell succinctly outlines. But it set a marker for their intentions to move into the mainstream in the South, hoping that time alone supplies enough distance from their past actions.
SF have had to become a normalized political force in the North if there was to be any political progress at all. McGuinness’s chumminess with Ian Paisley and now with Peter Robinson, which required a good bit of movement on all sides, is in my view a thoroughly welcome development, whatever ‘Purple’ @31 may think.
I agree that internationalization on several fronts (EU membership, US engagement, changing British-Irish relations) has been important in changing the framework. My colleagues at the UCD Institute for British-Irish Studies have done a great deal of work on these themes.
I am continuously impressed by people who have suffered terrible losses from IRA violence to be willing to support what it takes to move things on. And by the willingness of the vast majority on all sides to accept the legitimacy of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and other core institutions.
It’s still a very odd polity and a very odd society. But it is vastly better for the politics of the peace process, however imperfect this may be.

44

Shay Begorrah 06.28.12 at 10:36 am

@niamh

McGuinness standing for the Irish Presidency was a clear bid for auto-lustration. It didn’t work, for the reasons Darragh McDowell succinctly outlines.

I can not help feeling that you are letting your visceral dislike of Sinn Fein get in the way of your political analysis here. There is no lustration process in Irish republic (or any real need for one, though the the organs of INM‘s constant whining about Garda Gerry McCabe might have you believe otherwise) and the presidential campaign of McGuiness was not part of some search for respectability, it was simply an attempt to broaden Sinn Fein’s geographical range.

He placed third in the vote after all.

45

Shay Begorrah 06.28.12 at 10:41 am

HTML edit fail in post 44 , apologies.

@niamh

McGuinness standing for the Irish Presidency was a clear bid for auto-lustration. It didn’t work, for the reasons Darragh McDowell succinctly outlines.

I can not help feeling that you are letting your visceral dislike of Sinn Fein get in the way of your political analysis here. There is no lustration process in Irish republic (or any real need for one, though the the organs of INM constant whining about Garda Gerry McCabe might have you believe otherwise) and the presidential campaign of McGuiness was not part of some search for respectability, it was simply an attempt to broaden Sinn Fein’s geographical range.

McGuinness did place third in the presidential vote after all.

46

Niall McAuley 06.28.12 at 11:17 am

There most certainly is a lustration process ongoing in the Republic. At one time, SF representatives were not even allowed to speak on TV, and RTÉ is still as anti-SF as it can get away with before it gets boring.

The question is how long SF will have to wait before being regarded as mainstream, as FF, the Workers Party and other off-shoots of various IRA splits eventually were.

The widely held sentiment “Over my dead body” suggests that it may be a while yet.

47

Shay Begorrah 06.28.12 at 11:49 am

@Niall McAuley

There most certainly is a lustration process ongoing in the Republic. At one time, SF representatives were not even allowed to speak on TV, and RTÉ is still as anti-SF as it can get away with before it gets boring.

The Irish national broadcaster is simply on the establishment right (not unlike the Irish Independent), I think much of the current animus against Sinn Fein is better understood when viewed as bourgeois/creditor class solidarity then as some debate about whether breaching the states monopoly on violence can ever be forgiven.

The question is how long SF will have to wait before being regarded as mainstream, as FF, the Workers Party and other off-shoots of various IRA splits eventually were.

As mentioned the period of absolution necessary to enter the establishment is more a less a function of how far to the left from the establishment position one is. Ireland’s political class (along with most of Europe’s) are now so far to the right that Sinn Fein may up being our Die Linke. No time is long enough to forgive Marxist thought crime.

48

rf 06.28.12 at 11:58 am

Hearing of Aengus O Snodaigh’s looting of printer ink has made me oddly nostalgic for Irish politics.

49

understudy 06.28.12 at 12:53 pm

“I think much of the current animus against Sinn Fein is better understood when viewed as bourgeois/creditor class solidarity then as some debate about whether breaching the states monopoly on violence can ever be forgiven.”

Sure, that’s one thought. Different analysis I ever heard was by a guy who was convinced that any white Christians killing other white Christians had to be due to a plot driven by non-white/non-Christians. That is the beauty of multiple realities, each can be correct in explaining the situation to someone …

50

Daragh McDowell 06.28.12 at 1:19 pm

“I think much of the current animus against Sinn Fein is better understood when viewed as bourgeois/creditor class solidarity then as some debate about whether breaching the states monopoly on violence can ever be forgiven.”

Yeah, when you dismiss outrage over the murder of an unarmed policeman as ‘whining,’ or conveniently fail to mention things like proxy bombs, (not to mention the continued violence of the IRA’s offshoots) its pretty easy to claim that political opposition to murderers and thugs is simply about economic issues.

Jesus wept…

51

Niall McAuley 06.28.12 at 1:33 pm

The idea that the Right Wing establishment is anti-SF because Marx doesn’t really stand up when you consider that SF has been in power in the North for years without any actual Marxism happening.

52

rf 06.28.12 at 1:46 pm

As loathsome as the Provo’s were, I really can’t understand the continued obsession the media have with them, (though I’ve tended to be more generous and chalk it down to mass PTSD among that generation of journalists.) I genuinely can’t see where the demand exists among the public for endlessly rehashing the Troubles.

And when it leads one to ignore widespread corruption/spend a decade lobbying to inflate a property bubble ad infinitum/become a mouthpiece for Ahmed Chalabi, it all seems kind of….sad?

53

Shay Begorrah 06.28.12 at 1:49 pm

@Daragh McDowell

Yeah, when you dismiss outrage over the murder of an unarmed policeman as ‘whining,’

Yup, whining – pathethic, opportunistic, disinegnuous, nauseating whining mainly inspired by INM and their political fellow travelers on the right. The same set of reactionaries so keen to try and coopt the word “disappeared” from the victims of Chile’s right wing dictatorship (its a common trope: “Ground Zero” anyone?).

Lets lay it out.

Just in terms of the police force Northern Ireland saw thirty times the levels of the killings as in the Republic and while we expect their relatives and friends to cope with the settlement that the peace process offered the Irish Independent harps endlessly on about just two categories of victims.

1 Northern Catholics killed by the IRA as informers whose bodies were hidden.
2 Southern police killed by the IRA.

These two sets of people constitute 0.6% of those killed during the troubles (and you will notice that none of them of them are protestants). How much comparative coverage do you think that your newspaper has given them in the years since the Good Friday Agreement as opposed to all the other victims?

The hypocrisy, the barely hidden appeal to sectarianism and the parochialism of INM is simply unbearable.

54

Niall McAuley 06.28.12 at 2:13 pm

SF supporters see deaths in Ireland, and think it is hypocritical to focus on a tiny percentage of them while ignoring the vast majority.

Indo readers, on the other hand, think we should dig a Dundalk to Derry canal and fill it with electric jumping sharks.

55

Shay Begorrah 06.28.12 at 2:29 pm

@Niall McAuley

Indo readers, on the other hand, think we should dig a Dundalk to Derry canal and fill it with electric jumping sharks.

Since that satisfies my desire for Keynesian stimulus policies I would normally agree with you however I must first ask you a question.

* Does the canal follow a bee-line between Derry and Dundalk?

For the record it does not matter which side of Dundalk the new robot killer fish waterway starts on

56

Marc Mulholland 06.28.12 at 4:36 pm

This has to be a bit awkward for McGuinness, because he’s a real insurgent-cum-terrorist-cum-politician meeting a figurehead who by definition can never be at fault, as she reigns without governing. Now, if the Queen could have shaken hands with P. O’Neill, that really would have been a pleasingly symbolic and symmetrical meeting.

57

piglet 06.28.12 at 7:05 pm

Thanks 26 and some others. Can’t stand your smugness NIAMH.

58

piglet 06.28.12 at 7:06 pm

And especially thanks for the Sunningdale correction. Thanks Ciaran for rewriting history.

59

piglet 06.28.12 at 7:20 pm

While mentioning the Queen: Maybe it would have helped if at some point in the last 40 years or so, the Queen had made a very strong very public statement expressing her disgust about so-called Loyalists claiming to murder out of loyalty for the monarch and the union? IMHO that would have been one instance where she could have made a genuine difference, and earned respect.

And while not mentioning Blair: huh? I always thought that Blair’s stance in the runup to the Good Friday agreement was one of the few (maybe the only) instances where He Did The Right Thing, and nobody is willing to give him credit? Crediting instead the EU, or even George W Bush??? What’s wrong with you guys?

60

rf 06.28.12 at 7:30 pm

Yeah Blair was good on the North, his amorality was useful for once. Ditto Ahern. Bert hardly credited GWB with anything other than calling Adams out over the Robert McCartney murder. I’d imagine most people here are opposed to the Loyalist Paramilitaries (the DUP were mentioned above), and personally I see the British Army as little more than a collection of gun-toting redneck lunatics. But I’m not British so it’s not my responsibility to call them out.
I’m indifferent to the point of inertia towards the Queen. Having said all that it is difficult to support an organisation that bombed English pubs and shopping centres, robbed banks and shot unarmed police officers, let alone hope they become the main opposition party in the Republic. But to each their own.

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piglet 06.28.12 at 8:12 pm

“But I’m not British so it’s not my responsibility to call them out.”

Well to my knowledge, the Queen is British and did have that responsibility. Especially given that it is now seriously suggested that her shaking hands with McGuiness was an act of personal sacrifice on her part. Why not on McGuiness’ part who witnessed Bloody Sunday perpetrated and covered up in the name of same Queen? I’m neither British nor Irish but I have no time for the petty rewriting of history advocated by many posters here.

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rf 06.28.12 at 8:35 pm

We’re living through the last days of a strange resurgence of British nostalgia for the Empire, which manifests itself in overt militarism, Boys Own War Stories and overwrought expressions of love for the Monarchy. It’ll pass, they’ll go back to hating themselves, and the world will be a better place. I do agree with you in large part, although an apology for Iraq might be more in order.

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Stephen 06.28.12 at 8:51 pm

Piglet@ 61:
” I have no time for the petty rewriting of history advocated by many posters here.”

Me neither. Perhaps you will turn your scorn to

EWI@25:
“the very same Parachute Regiment which murdered unarmed civil rights protestors, which event brought a young Martin McGuinness to join the Provisional IRA” which contains massive, even Alpine if not Himalayan rewriting of history.

Young Martin McGuinness was at the time of Bloody Sunday already a leading member of the PIRA (and may be forgiven many sins since he later was of great help to HM Government in causing the collapse of the armed Republican movement in NI, if not the violent deaths of Republicans who obstinately supported that movement). But at the time he was causing the violent deaths of those who opposed that movement, and a fair few innocent civilians who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And what happened on Bloody Sunday was not exactly an attack on “unarmed civil rights protestors”. If you read the Saville Report you will discover that it was, in turn:
A peaceful, unattacked march in protest against internment of real or supposed IRA members.
A fairly violent riot against the British Army road blocks that prevented the protest march entering the city center – previously much bombed by M McG & Co.
A low-intensity firefight between republicans and the British Army, with the first shots fired by republicans.
Withdrawal of the still-peaceful elements of the protest march away from the city center.
Advance, as ordered, by elements of the Parachute Regiment to arrest remaining rioters; in most sections, arrests without casualties.
In one section, Paras made unauthorised advance into the Catholic Bogside area: ineffective opposition with occasional shooting by Bogsiders, absolutely unjustifiable firing by some Paras, many killed who had not been or were no longer involved in riot, only one of whom was carrying bombs.
In my opinion, whoever decided to launch Paras (not, by definition, nice or peaceful people) against lightly-armed rioters should have been courtmartialed.
But that doesn’t mean EWI’s rewriting of history is acceptable.

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EWI 06.28.12 at 9:47 pm

@ Stephen

You’re right on one count. I’ve confused McGuinness with someone else.

But, the rest. What is internment if not a violation of civil rights then, eh? And interesting to learn that the penalty of deliberately directing murder (shooting selected “ringleaders”) of civilians, *none of whom were armed*, is deemed by you to just be a matter of court-martial.

I’ll let people decide for themselves whose version of history here is “acceptable”.

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piglet 06.28.12 at 11:13 pm

I did notice (and didn’t bring it up because it appeared too remote) the McGuinness mistake that EWI now acknowledged. However that mistake is truly a bagatelle (and obviously unintentional) compared to a statement like “And what happened on Bloody Sunday was not exactly an attack on “unarmed civil rights protestors”.”

That was exactly what it was and denying that disqualifies you Stephen completely from this conversation.

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Oliver St John Gogarty 06.29.12 at 12:53 am

Better late than never? I would say, rather, never until . . . . Why in the world would anybody from Sein Fein shake hands with the central symbol of the 850-year suppression of its nation until that suppression has been totally lifted from said nation? I’m not a supporter of violence now or in recent decades; and, although I believe violence was justified in 1915-1922, I believe Collins didn’t have a choice in 1922, even if I sympathize with the Republican’s feelings that they had been betrayed. (IMO, deValera was the worst thing that ever happened to the rebellion and the early Free State — a humorless, honorless, narcissistic theocrat.) Imagine how they’d feel looking at THAT picture. Sad.

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Oliver St John Gogarty 06.29.12 at 1:11 am

“Popular opinion”? There’s a soft spot for Liz in Eire & among northern Catholics? Really?

Better late than never? I would say, rather, Never until . . . .

Why in the world would anybody from Sinn Fein shake hands with the central symbol of the 850-year suppression of Sinn Fein’s nation until that suppression has been totally lifted from said nation? I’m not a supporter of violence now or in recent decades; and, although I believe violence was justified in 1915-1922, I believe Collins didn’t have a choice in 1922, even if I sympathize with the Republican’s feelings that they had been betrayed.* But reverting to tribal tugging of the forelock in front of the British aristocracy? Why?

*IMO, deValera was the worst thing that ever happened to the rebellion and the early Free State—a humorless, honorless, narcissistic theocrat. If ever God spared the wrong man, it was Collins dying while deValera survived.

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ciaran 06.29.12 at 9:22 am

Piglet , Ian paisley was a prominent figure in the strike . I believe he may have even had a position of authority in the Uwc. Certainly the DUP gained enormous support during and after the strike.
The Provos were if course vehemently opposed to the deal and im pretty sure they stepped up their campaign in protest.
So I don’t think I’m rewriting history here.

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ciaran 06.29.12 at 9:36 am

It took the provisionals some 20 to 30 years to realise that actually the official ira was right and armed struggle was a cul de sac. So maybe in another two decades we’ill be welcoming mickey mckevit as the new nelson Mandela,when the real ira has a similar epiphany .
On the question of popular support, I think bobby sands may be an outlier , hunger strikes are an emotive one. It wasn’t until the peace process was well a truly bedded down that sinn fein over took the sdlp as the biggest party. I’ve a figure in my head that sinn fein/ ira had the support of about ten% of the northern population during the troubles .

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ciaran 06.29.12 at 9:49 am

And just fwiw , I’m not seeing what exactly is so insane about sinn feins position on the treaty . Quite informed and informative people on the right and left , say namawinelake and Yanis Varoufakis, had similar positions.
And the focus on some printer cartridges ( wrong and all as it was for him to take them), you’d swear we didn’t have any real problems.

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Niall McAuley 06.29.12 at 10:21 am

SF’s position on the treaty is not insane. If Ireland had rejected the treaty, the Euro unravelled, the EU retrenched and Ireland was left out in the cold, SF would be delighted. All the more creative chaos for them to exploit and unseat the established parties.

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ciaran 06.29.12 at 10:33 am

Well the euro obviously wouldn’t have unravelled if we’d have rejected the treaty and in the final analysis we could have just voted on the bloody thing again. Are you happy than we’re still paying out billions to failed investors on the basis of a supposed nod and a wink , if the ecb is so concerned that these people get replayed then let the ecb do it. The main reason I’ve voted for sinn fein recently is that I think we need some take some risks. It seems to me like we’re playing it safe all the way to the knackers yard. And again thus whole notion that sinn fein are uniquely awfull, I mean the current government basically cynically lied their way into office and what about fine Gaels relationship with denis obrein , somehow that seems more important that some bloody ink cartridges.

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Niall McAuley 06.29.12 at 11:05 am

My point is that Sinn Féin are not taking any risks.

If a risky policy is ignored by government, Sinn Féin can make a noise like they matter.

If the risky policy is tried and fails, hurray, the situation is worse and folks need an alternative, and with FF still in the doghouse, SF are it.

If a risky policy is tried and succeeds, hey, SF were for it before anyone else.

If, God, Mary Mother of God, Jesus, St.Jude, St.Anthony and all the Saints between us and all harm, SF get into power, then…

All bets are off, they never said anything about risky policies, because shut up.

See their record in the North for details on how that works.

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rf 06.29.12 at 11:09 am

“I mean the current government basically cynically lied their way into office and what about fine Gaels relationship with denis obrein , somehow that seems more important that some bloody ink cartridges.”

I was always under the impression that the Sindo was well predisposed towards corruption. Wasn’t their editorial line during the bubble years that any investigation of Ahern/Fianna Fail would destabilise the state and create the opening for a Sinn Fein/Mafia takeover? And anyway who wouldn’t want free money? Ridiculous.

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ciaran 06.29.12 at 11:23 am

Hey Niall ,
Yes that’s a reasonable. From what little I hear of northern politics they haven’t exactly started work on the hacienda.At the same time the constitutional arrangements are mighty peculiar up there. A fundamentalist conservative protestant party in coalition with an ostensibly left wing politically correct catholic party . I mean how would they even agree on a platform on spending and social issues. What actually powers does the government up there actually have I wonder? I don’t follow it so closely.

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Shay Begorrah 06.29.12 at 1:22 pm

For those looking for a valid reason to criticize Sinn Fein there is this disappointing little story in the Irish Times.

Silence on religious discrimination case is worrying

I get the alternative ANC “decades of discrimination to be made up for” angle but it still grates unpleasantly. Tone would not be pleased.

77

ajay 06.29.12 at 2:46 pm

It’s really not an easy life being a female CT poster, as rf, Shay and piglet are happy to demonstrate.

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piglet 06.29.12 at 2:49 pm

ciaran, from the context I assumed you were saying that the militant nationalists brought down Sunningdale, then spent decades fighting a civil war, only to finally agree to a very similar arrangement. That’s what I called rewriting of history. On rereading, maybe I misread you. Maybe you were referring to the unionists. (“Yet the same feckers how brought done sunningdale are quite happy with the agreement now that they get there bums in ministerial mercs.”). It still isn’t very clear to me what your point is.

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piglet 06.29.12 at 2:50 pm

75 wtf???

80

ajay 06.29.12 at 2:56 pm

57 and 61 in particular.

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piglet 06.29.12 at 4:32 pm

I shouldn’t bite but hard to resist. I have no idea of either Niamh’s or rf’s or Shay’s or your gender ajay, and you don’t know my gender, and why it should matter is beyond me.

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Stephen 06.29.12 at 6:51 pm

Piglet @65
“the McGuinness mistake that EWI now acknowledged. However that mistake is truly a bagatelle”. A mere trifle, claiming that MMcG was driven into armed and murderous activities by something that happened long after he had begun armed and murderous activities.

If that is your idea of objective accuracy, I am not at all surprised that you respond to my accurate statement that “what happened on Bloody Sunday was not exactly an attack on “unarmed civil rights protestors” by writing “That was exactly what it was and denying that disqualifies you Stephen completely from this conversation”.

Well now, let’s have a look at what the Saville report, which I would accept as the most detailed and accurate account of Bloody Sunday we are likely to get, actually said happened from 15.45 onwards on that deplorable day:
““The riot amounted to a sustained assault on those manning the barrier, the rioters hurling stones and whatever else they could lay their hands on at the soldiers with the object of causing injury, some hoping the more serious the better. There was a bombardment of stones, bottles, bricks, iron bars, gratings, angle irons, scaffolding poles, a nail-studded stave, lengths of timber and other missiles, though no nail or petrol bombs.”

The report added that at 15.49 two high velocity shots were fired at an Army post from the Creggan estate, these being the first shots fired that day; and goes on to describe a variety of pistol and rifle shots at the Army before anybody was killed.

I do not seriously suppose that any such facts will prevent the bold Piglet from asserting that I am, by reason of resorting to trivial matters like eyewitness evidence and contemporary photos , disqualified from holding any opinion different from Piglet’s.
After all, Piglet Knows Everything and is Always Right. It was a peaceful protest by unarmed civil rights protestors, so it was.

It would probably be unfair to recruit volunteers to subject Piglet to “a bombardment of stones, bottles, bricks, iron bars, gratings, angle irons, scaffolding poles, a nail-studded stave, lengths of timber and other missiles”: also impossible, since his valuable self would of course be very far away from such brutal realities.

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Kosimba 06.29.12 at 8:37 pm

Ireland should have voted no, if Sinn Fein were for a no vote they were right. Ireland (and greece, spain italy and portugal but I digress) would be better off leaving the Euro and devaluing… even if they stay in they should have played tough. Voting no would have been part of that.
Re northern ireland not my area of expertise but even in this informed and civil discussion there seems to be rather a lot of whataboutery – Olivers army, paras and provos all not very nice, shame people seem to vote for SF rather than SDLP now but then we voted for Blair who killed more in an afternoon than died in the history of the troubles so I try not to judge. Not entirely on the point if I ever had one but as someone who grew up in England I do think the change in English attitudes to the irish I have seen in my lifetime is one of the few concrete examples of sanity prevailing, I remember the most incredible unthinking anti irish racism was part of the warp and weft of ordinary life growing up in the 1980’s.

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rf 06.29.12 at 9:22 pm

You’re correct of course Ajay, it did all become quite hyperbolic and silly. Personally, I would credit the threads demise to comment 27, when the first unmarked van driven by a Nazi collaborating IRA member entered the scene! Anyway, I’d hope my own not particularly enlightening inputs could be put down to a lack of sophistication rather than gender bias, genuinely, so I’ll keep that in mind.

Apologies, Niamh, if I helped derail the thread, and to anyone offended by any references to the British Military; it’s an open forum and not an easy time to be a member of the military, so I’ll choose my words more carefully in the future. Maybe others could do the same.

85

ajay 06.30.12 at 5:23 am

. I have no idea of either Niamh’s or rf’s or Shay’s or your gender ajay

I love being lectured about Ireland by someone who doesn’t know whether “Niamh” is a male or female name.

86

Hidari 06.30.12 at 6:35 am

‘we voted for Blair who killed more in an afternoon than died in the history of the troubles’.

Yes this is rather an important point isn’t it? And puts into context all those oh-so-sincere ‘condemnations’ of IRA terrorism* by ‘liberals’.

*When I first wrote that, I initially typo-ed ‘errorism’ which might actually have been more accurate.

87

rf 06.30.12 at 10:58 pm

“I love being lectured about Ireland by someone who doesn’t know whether “Niamh” is a male or female name.”

Yeah, but not really. You don’t have to be able to differentiate every name by gender to have an opinion on a country’s politics.

Stephen

I haven’t read Saville, and don’t really want to get into this because you appear to be the mirror image of the one issue nationalist bores I’ve heard throughout my life, but EWI initially said:

“Parachute Regiment which murdered unarmed civil rights protestors,”

You’ve gone to great lengths to debunk this without dealing with the statement. Among the dead who was armed? I was under the impression they were all found to be unarmed? I’m willing to be wrong on that though.

From the bit I’v checked with Saville:

“it is at least possible that they did so in the indefensible belief that all the civilians they fired at were probably either members of the Provisional or Official IRA or were supporters of one or other of these paramilitary organisations; and so deserved to be shot notwithstanding that they were not armed or posing any threat of causing death or serious injury.”

Could you clarify?

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ajay 07.02.12 at 8:29 am

You don’t have to be able to differentiate every name by gender to have an opinion on a country’s politics.

Of course not, but it’s a clue about your degree of familiarity with the subject.

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piglet 07.02.12 at 5:33 pm

Extremely convincing argument ajay. First I’m sexist for criticizing a female blogger, then I’m ignorant for not knowing she was female. But you have a point, nobody who isn’t fluent in Gaelic should ever venture to have an opinion about anything Irish.

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