Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Politicians follow their herd

The Sinn Fein intellectual (although such a description should be treated as "relative") Eoin O Broin, in an interview, with An Phobail has stated that the Republic’s two main parties and not the DUP are the main "roadblocks" to a "United" Ireland.

Of course, the main roadblock is the inconvenient fact that a clear majority of the population in Northern Ireland are happy enough to continue with the Union... but still, the point being made about Fianna Fail and Fine Gael is one worth considering.

Collins reckons it is the two parties' "fighting electoral" machines, "with all the attendant memories and companionship and privileges" which stops them from getting their hands too dirty in the pushfor the 32 County Nirvana. Perhaps. The introduction of a million or so unpredictable souls onto the electoral roll could cause a threat, I guess, to the present status quo but there are too many imponderables to state that for certain. For example, what would happen to the Sinn Fein and SDLP vote once their ultimate target had been achieved? Why wouldn’t it transfer oto parties preaching normal, non-communal politics? Parties like Fianna Fail and Fine Gael? The Unionist (or "Prod", as it would more than likely become on the destruction of our Union) Bloc wouldn’t be anywhere near large or cohesive enough to make much of a difference one way or another. In other words, in the event of the 32 County state there shouldn’t be too much to fear for the typical FF or FG apparachnik in terms of damage to either their party or personal fortunes.

Yet post the Belfast Agreement, the terminology "pan-nationalist front" has disappeared from even the most ultra of Unionist’s lexicon. O Broin is right, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are only paying lip-service to the pursuit of what should be their national goal. He and Collins are, however, self-deluded/dishonest in their analysis of the reasons. The roadblock on the road to "Unity" hasn’t originated in splendid isolation- its creation is merely reflecting the attitude and opinion of the wider electorate.
Now, why would that be the case? That's a more uncomfortable question for Republicans to answer.


michaelhenry said...

who follows who, will it depend on the size of ones herd, still, nice to have a big herd,

i believe yer man from SINN FEIN is thinking of the all IRELAND vote for unity, the nice 32 counties,
whilst you o'neill are on about a 6 county vote,
i read the agreement before the acceptance vote in 1998, and after that vote, have you,
i think that the first vote is the most importand, lose this vote, then the next vote 7 years after the first will also be lost, but i do not think that any herd will lose, come unity.

menaiblog said...

I suspect that in the event of a UI the Unionist parties would find common ground with FG while some Nationalists would gravitate towards FF while others would be more inclined to align themselves with Labour - even if the current parties remained

By strengthening the FG side of things, I guess that Unionism would as often than not determine who gets into government.

peteram79 said...

"its creation is merely reflecting the attitude and opinion of the wider electorate.
Now, why would that be the case? That's a more uncomfortable question for Republicans to answer."

The would suggest that Republicanism gives two hoots as to what others want. At no point in history has anyone but a tiny minority of Irish people, north and south, favoured a 32-county socialist republic. This hasn't stopped a series of campaigns of violence by this tiny minority aimed at, in some (conveniently lacking in specifics) way, coercing the people of Ireland into accepting what the overwhelming majority do not want. Why would the unreformed Republicans still holding their noses within the newly constitutional nationalist Sinn Fein abandon this arrogant we-know-what's-best-and-we'll-terrorise-you-if-you-disagree mentality now? After all, they've had it for over a century

peteram79 said...


Not really sure exactly what you mean by "gravitate towards" FG.

Should the worse come to the worse and a UI materialise (I just can't put a compelling scenario together of how it happens, at least in the next 50 years, but I'll ignore that for now), "Unionism", or whatver it will be termed if the Union is broken, would be best served by a single bloc focused purely on getting the best possible deal for the minority. The experience of the unionist community in the RoI suggests they'll certainly need to.

In this scenario, I agree that, given the voting system, unionism would likely hold the balance of power, almost in perpetuity. If they're smart (I know, I know, unionist politicians don't inspire confidence) they'll deal with either FF or FG depending on which is prepared to ofer them most.

It's stagnant, sectarian, gutter politics at its worst. But, given the virtual annihilation of the RoI's unionist community since partition, it will be an inevitable outcome.

And I imagine fears that their politics would become bogged in a sectarian quagmire is a very strong reason why RoI politicians, and indeed the more thoughtful of their electorate, wany unification like a hole in the head.

O'Neill said...

"In this scenario, I agree that, given the voting system, unionism would likely hold the balance of power, almost in perpetuity"

Talking theoretically here, of course, but I'm not sure that would be the case. There would be inevitably an exodus of fearful Protestants from the more vulnerable areas of Ulster and also I suspect a fair proportion of the middle/class professionals would see that theirs and their family's longterm future would be better guaranteed in Britain.

I say deliberately Protestants rather than Unionists because the day a 32 county state ever appeared then Unionism would be officially dead. And because of that fact, like Peter, I think that would probably consolidate sectarianism not remove it in NI.