I was on a radio discussion with nice Alex Kane last Sunday, and although I didn’t think it at the time, I was told by several people we clashed fairly resoundingly.
The essential point was whether Sinn Féin were doing the right thing by unionists. It seemed to me that they were but Alex begged to differ. If they were doing the right thing, he said, they would apologise to unionists for the actions of republicans over the period of the Troubles. If they were doing the right thing, they would state publicly that only when/if ever a majority of unionists in the north agreed to constitutional change would it come about.
My response was Holy God, Alex. If republicans and republicans alone apologise, this boxes them into a corner where they appear to be saying ‘We were in the wrong all along. We were just a group of thousands of criminals who went on a killing spree for several decades’. If apologies were to be handed in, they should be handed in simultaneously by ALL parties to the conflict. No hierarchies please, Alex.
The other point, about the need to announce that only when a majority of unionists had agreed to constitutional change should it happen: that’s not what was signed up to in the Good Friday Agreement. It explicitly talks about a majority in Northern Ireland, not a majority of unionists. So why sign up to something and then start demanding stricter terms? Besides which, I know there are republicans who would be willing to wait until a majority of unionists were agreeable to constitutional change, but that’s another matter.
And please, people, we’re talking here about the road towards constitutional change, not how far there may or may not be to travel.
I really do like Alex, but he occasionally adopts some very odd positions for a rational, intelligent man.
One apsect of the conversation with unionists ragrading reconciliation that is missing when they talk about apologies etc is the 50 years of Unionist misrule. Is any Unionists and specifiaclly the Ulster unionists going to apologise for 50 years of discrimination, gerrymandering etc which actually give rise to the recent conflict? Take it another step and ask British Government are they going to apologise for going againt the democratic wishes of the people of Irerland and creating this sectarian statelet? All fair questions if we want to actually face the truth of why conflict has happened here since partition.
Sparta – there’s a few tricky concepts in your response there that if you continue to hold them will forever hinder your ability to understand a unionist perspective.
“when they talk about apologies etc is the 50 years of Unionist misrule”
Isn’t all Government misrule, essentially? Anyway, we could play a long game of “how many things should we all demand apologies for” but I fear that might be a deeply unproductive use of everyone’s time. However, gerrymandering, while bad, is not a moral equivalent to bombing a chip shop or shooting a judge’s daughter. You can’t in all moral honesty equate the two.
“Is any Unionists and specifiaclly the Ulster unionists going to apologise for 50 years of discrimination, gerrymandering etc which actually give rise to the recent conflict?”
If you take the ideological blinkers off, I think you’ll find the likes of Basil McCrea, John McCallister (Sinn Fein conference speech), David Trimble (To Raise up a New Northern Ireland), already largely have. I believe Peter Robinson has even admitted there were regretful mistakes in the 1922 to 1969 period.
As above though, gerrymandering at some level takes place in every democratic country. It never justifies killing 8 year old girls cleaning windows. So an apology for the terror campaign does not need to wait for an apology for distorting electoral ward boundaries.
“Take it another step and ask British Government are they going to apologise for going againt the democratic wishes of the people of Irerland and creating this sectarian statelet?”
That statement is self-evidently challengeable. Who’s “democratic wishes trump who’s”? Does the “democratic wish of Turkey”, more populous than Greece, to have Cyprus within its territory trump the wishes of the people in Cyprus. Ditto, Israel and Palestine. Your argument here is thus very spurious (and not to say desperate) as you’re probably willing to privately admit.
“All fair questions if we want to actually face the truth of why conflict has happened here since partition.”
You’re trying to paint the conflict as in some “inevitable”. There was nothing inevitable about it, and certainly not in its long and fruitless duration. Why did the campaign keep on going long after seeming civil rights complaints had been addressed?
To answer your last question…and good observation by the way, …because it was about ending British Rule and reuniting Ireland ..not about civil rights no matter how New Sinn Fein try to portray it now.
Yes it was always ‘Brits Out’ until in the end SF realised, to their credit, that we had been entangled with the Brits for so long that, like a Flann O’Brian character, our molecules have intermingled so no-one could be sure which is bicycle and which is man. We could no more get the Brits out than we could remove our own liver.
In the end we may have to hang the bicycle.
How could a majority of unionists ever support constitutional change in the form of a united Ireland? Wouldn’t support for such constitutional change make someone a non-unionist by definition?
First it was the majority of people in Ireland
Then it was the majority of people in Ulster
Then it was the majority of people in Northern Ireland
Now its the majority of Unionist People
Then it’ll be the majority of Unionist People who vote a certain way
Seems that by constantly reducing the set, it’ll never happen.
I think there is a lot to apologise for on both sides. But then again are we responsible for the sins of our forefathers?
I think it’d be a very hollow apology to have the pope apologise for Adrian IV giving Henry II permission to invade ireland. If we go that far back then it gets stupid… I’d say beyond March 1972 would be a waste of time.
Can you argue that the British Goverment imposing direct rule was a good thing? Probably could, certainly ended (or started to end)50 years of second class citizenship for many.. so start from there?
Jasper wants us to look at violent actions in isolation without asking what give rise to them. People non-violently campaigned for equal rights and were beaten off the streets. Some did as we know take up arms. It’s not to justify any of the actions that followed during the course of the conflict. It’s to ask the question why did they come into happening.
Ignoring the disastrous affect that partition and the subsequent 50 years of sectarian and discriminating rule by Unionists is really sticking your head in the sand when it comes to attempting to understand the conflict.
Jasper then uses certain incidents during the conflict to try and back up his head in the sand argument. Sure couldn’t we all throw up arguments that way. Bottom line is; why did these incidents come to happen.
An apology for treating people like second class citizens is a bit more than ‘distorting electoral ward boundaries’. Some people were not prepared to wait on the unionists grasping equality or the British Government realising that what they had created was a cesspit of sectarianism that treated a large section of the people like second class citizens.
Trying to equate the partition of Ireland with other areas of the world is a feeble effort to justify the unjustifiable. The great upholders of democracy that is the British Gov have trampled on peoples democratic wishes for decades indeed centuries.
Are you trying to say that the North was a beacon of civil rights into the 80s and 90s? Obviously you lived in a different state than what I and thousands like me faced. Your use of the word ‘seeming’ re civil rights gives away your belief that all was rosy in the old Northern State. Need to get your head round it Jasper – there aint no going back.