TWENTY YEARS ON FROM THE CEASEFIRES:THE POLITICS OF DIVISION IN A DIVIDED SOCIETY by Ciaran Mc

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It was one of those events where many will remember where they were or what they were doing. In 1994 I was a teenager living in a community whereby British Army raids were the norm, armed soldiers patrolled the streets, members of Republican paramilitaries were operating within the community, the daily media coverage of shootings and killings and breaking news stories seemed to happen all too regularly. But, what was wrong with this? This was daily life in the North of Ireland. In my youth nothing seemed out of the ordinary; if anything, I was living through a history I knew little about, yet subconsciously was fascinated and hooked. Looking back now I find it hard to comprehend the situation we found ourselves in, communities gripped by fear of what next? What is unique is how far we have come since that turbulent period. I recall a breaking news story on that day, 31st August 1994, whereby the PIRA declared a “complete cessation of military operations.” Questions needed answering. What was a ceasefire? What did this mean? How would this affect me? What did it mean for the community I lived in? I recall vividly people celebrating in the streets as calls of “the war is over” were heard. The word “peace” was mentioned, a word that wasn’t often communicated (apart from my father’s lunch, a piece). Twenty years is a long time, it has gone very quickly. Life has moved on, as has politics. But is the divided society we live in now struggling to find common ground to allow for the full transformation from violence to peace to a workable solution?

I recently attended a debate on the 1994 Ceasefires as part of the Féile an Phobail programme. Journalists Eamonn Mallie, Brian Rowan and Charlie Bird gave a compelling insight into their recollection of the 1994 Ceasefires. Each account as engrossing as the other and compounded by the tension and historical nature of the time. As each journalist recounted their memories with occasional lapses of humor, I often thought of the naivety of life for me in 1994.  A few thoughts came into my head. What if 1994 did not happen? Where would we be today? Where are we going? Since this significant moment I have followed closely the long journey from violence to conflict transformation, a fascinating journey that 20 years ago looked unimaginable.

As the intriguing debate was drawing to a close, one comment made by Brian Rowan stifled me: “Unionism is feeling vulnerable and, I think, there are occasions such as the period we’re in, when republicans still need to think about what they are doing and about what they could do to convince senior unionists and loyalists that they are genuinely serious about a peace process, about a shared future and about shared space.” As I left the debate the words “genuinely serious about the peace process” resonated in my head.

As we find ourselves entering a period of great challenge and political stagnation I would like to challenge the assertion of Brian and examine the 20 years on from the Ceasefires in a critical sense. Firstly, I agree with Brian that Unionists finds themselves in a vulnerable position. As the Union remains safe for the foreseeable future, Unionists seem to have a genuine fear and paranoia about the rise of republicanism across the island. They don’t display the swagger and political confidence of a bygone era. Perhaps change has happened too quickly? Political Unionism seem to have fears about their own political inabilities and “defiant insecurities.” (Dr Hayward).  Political Unionism currently finds itself in a political cul-de-sac as they face an identity crisis. The time for soul-searching has come. The mythical slogan of “cultural war “ has now been replaced by the very much undefined “graduated response” illustrating reactionary politics, an inability to lead, inspire or give direction.  A political force that is being led and not leading, a force that struggles to find common ground with a disillusioned electorate and as stated recently “dancing to the Orange Order tune … and influence of Loyalist paramilitaries.” The DUP in particular prefer to represent the interest of themselves, leaving behind their electorate, leaving them leaderless, leaving them often confused. As the Peace Process has evolved from the momentous ceasefires of 1994, who more than anyone else has illustrated that they are “genuinely serious about a peace process, about a shared future and about shared space?” Without a doubt the evidence illustrates that republicans have. Republican’s have clearly made ground-breaking gestures designed to stimulate and move the process forward. The PIRA statement of 1994 talked about the need to “enhance the democratic process and underlying our definitive commitment to its success.” Republicans have honoured this and are still carrying it through. But, in reality what gestures have Political Unionism reciprocated with?

Republicans have negotiated and compromised often beyond their constraints.  Republicans have crossed boundaries, made bold and difficult moves whilst simultaneously trying to reach across the divide.  Republicans have made big initiatives work, often breathing life into a process that on occasion looked dead. Precondition after precondition, Republicans have delivered, on many occasions to the shock and despair of Political Unionism. Why? They want the Peace Process to work; they want to build a shared future; they want to agree a shared space. Surely, this is being made difficult as Unionism slowly moves to the right and engages in “old style” “playground politics” of not wanting to talk. Simultaneously, they now have a threat within the Unionist “family”, namely from the TUV. What better way to beat the TUV than try and act like them?  I listened to Martin McGuinness recently at a separate event of the Féile an Phobail. His commitment and dedication to the Peace process and building a shared future was very apparent. Republicans have a strategy. As he rightly said, you don’t often hear Political Unionism commending or speaking favorably about the Peace Process and as far as I see, it’s not too often you see them making substantive attempts to push (or nudge) it forward. The question remains, why? Surely the Peace Process is what they want! Republicans find themselves where they are today because they want to be there, Political Unionism are there because they have to be.

Haass was an ideal opportunity to ascertain how far Political Unionism has come and how serious they are about the Peace Process and building a shared future. They failed to deliver. Flags and parades are more a priority. Regardless of what Republicans do, it will never be enough for Unionists. Political Unionism were in hysterics when Republicans were bombing and shooting,  yet the same mentality is still there when Republicans play the rules within the remit of democracy. Political Unionism’s game of looking (with a tainted view) and walking backwards, ignoring what is in front has stagnated the Peace Process and in effect stalled the progress of the institutions. It’s making the north unworkable and untenable. The only people who can move Unionism are a progressive element within the Unionist community. There are many disenfranchised and disenchanted Unionists who want progress and are frustrated with their political representatives. Their voice needs to be heard, instead of the voice of protest Unionists such as the ‘fleg protestors” and those occupying “camp Twaddel” who care more about showboating up the Crumlin Road and symbolism than building a future. This attack on their culture is continually whipped up by Political Unionism; this defeatist attitude is no more than delusional politics.

I genuinely cannot see how Republicans could offer much more as Brian suggests. At the Hunger Strike commemoration in Derrylin on Sunday, Gerry Adams talked about making friends with “our unionist neighbors,” and moving forward with Unionists.” This seems to be the Republican agenda and vision. I’ve yet to hear Political Unionism make any such remark about reconciling and moving forward with Republicanism. Political Unionism finds itself in an uncomfortable place, looking for the nearest exit. But is Political Unionism capable of stepping beyond their traditional tribal boundary? Political Unionism as a reactionary and rejectionist force seem to have no coherent or plausible strategy to engage in acts of reconciliation. They are driven by a variety of elements within their own society yet at the same time are so disjointed. Political Unionism still consider Republicans as their enemy, when they should be working with them towards a common shared goal of delivering good and effective government. Is it naive of me to think this way? I believe Political Unionism must make the next move, (although I know realistically they won’t) ; they must stretch beyond their limitations and illustrate their commitment to the Peace Process and building a shared future. Constantly bringing up the past, refusing to compromise and engage will never build a future.

Last week I listened to Colin Parry whose son Tim was killed by an IRA bomb in Warrington in 1993. Colin and Wendy Parry are an inspiration, a beacon of hope. If they can find positivity from such a negative moment in their life, why can’t others use their example and learn from it? Colin admitted having little contact with Political Unionism. Maybe a starting point for Political Unionism would be to engage with people like Colin and Wendy, listen to their story and their journey towards reconciliation, taking detailed notes. As the political vacuum fills by the day it would be a shame if the momentum of the last 20 years ground to a halt, preventing the continuation of the Peace Process, the building a shared future and shared space.

It is now time political Unionism reciprocate to illustrate their commitment to the Peace Process. Political Unionism must put their heads about the parapet, and instead of being led, must lead and demonstrate political maturity. We have come a long way into a better place, but can we go any further? It’s over to you Political Unionism. John Major stated in 1994 after the IRA Ceasefire “We are beyond the beginning but we are not yet in sight of the end.” This same statement is very much alive today as it was in 1994 …

46 Responses to TWENTY YEARS ON FROM THE CEASEFIRES:THE POLITICS OF DIVISION IN A DIVIDED SOCIETY by Ciaran Mc

  1. Patrick J Dorrian August 10, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    A thoughtful article Ciaran. When we had the ‘war’ everything was black and white for the unionists. it suited the cry of ‘No Surrender’ and they could wallow in the war thinking of themselves as martyrs and true inheritors of the Apprentice Boys. Hence the appellation’ Lundy’ whenever any potentially progressive unionist puts their head above the parapet.

    The present situation is also a reflection of ‘No Surrender’, today it means no compromise; any unionist politician looking for a way forward will be vilified. So we have the stalemate on ESA, on Grammar schools, on moving towards a zero of empty school desks.

    I can see no compromise in the future; I can see no way that nationalists can agree to not celebrating their dead/culture while allowing unrestricted celebration of the dead culture of unionism; I cannot see nationalists/republicans accepting the narrative (gee I hate that word now) that everything in the 6 counties was wonderful until the ‘fenians’ wrecked it.

    I think this place is fecked, if only it could be turned off, turned on and rebooted.

    • Jude Collins August 10, 2014 at 11:17 am #

      I think the phrase you’re reaching for, PJD, is ‘failed political entity’. Old Charlie wasn’t all bad…

  2. Caoimhin o Loinsigh August 10, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    An absolutely brilliant analysis of the peace process.one would despair at the antics of unionism,I cannot see where this progressive leadership will come from.They seem totally opposed to power sharing at any level.

    • Iolar August 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

      A Chaoimhin, a chara,
      What is this about “the antics of unionism” and being unable to see “progressive leadership?” Surely you must have heard the DUP spokesperson for Defence, as recently as today, stepping on to the world stage to support yet more bombing in northern Iraq? Credit where credit is due. I accept some planes continue to drop bombs, however, in the interests of balance, other planes are engaged in dropping humanitarian aid to the growing numbers of refugees throughout the world.
      Please do not forget the leadership being shown in relation to supporting Welfare Reform. Cuts, I hear you say? No, it’s about modernisation, getting people on to their bikes and wheelchairs to look for jobs.
      Yes I know the Minister for Justice complained about the millions of pounds currently being spent in policing 10 metres of road in North Belfast. Well I trust you will accept the prompt political initiatives to address his concerns given the proposed financial cutbacks for the University of Ulster with further savings to be made on repairing roads and cleaning gullies.
      Perhaps you missed another excellent political initiative earlier in the week. One MLA did not mince his words. He has exposed the scandal of the free mints available in the Assembly and the fact that Civil Servants are tasked to commission and supply the said confectionery. Please do not mention the subsidised meals and parking for our elected representatives as it could harm the peace process.

  3. Declan August 10, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    I don’t often comment on articles – but this is one succinct, to the point, hard hitting yet realistic view of the state of unionism.

  4. RJC August 10, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    An excellent analysis of where we currently stand. Where things go from here is anyone’s guess. Republicanism still has goals to achieve. Unionism as an ideology has no way of growing, and nowhere to grow to, which may go some way towards understanding its obsession with the past. The Union may well be safe for the foreseeable future, but you wouldn’t think it from the way Unionist politicians are behaving. Perhaps they know something we don’t?

  5. Laura August 10, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    Two words, tho not together in your piece, that jumped out at me from this really well done article . . . delusional tribal(ism). It exists world-wide where there have been ongoing conflicts lasting decades if not centuries.

    Dorrian couldn’t have said this better..a reboot is the answer but who will flip the switch to make that happen? Unionists are going to have to vote for more progressive politicians but not sure they are even capable of doing so and they are going to have to accept that Republicans are a part of the politics of the North of Ireland and there to stay. Another near impossibility for many in the North.

    Isn’t that what being delusional is all about? Isn’t the definition of insanity believing that you can do the same thing over and over again with the expectation of a different result?

  6. navanman August 10, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    Maybe for unionism their strategy has in the past and is now working eg their cultural war narrative. By complaining that their culture is under attact they have strengthened their unity and made it harder for others to promote the Irish culture. Elections: in may the unionist vote was up and the nat vote down. North Belfast looks certain to stay unionist (you can disagree with their parade stance but it will get ND elected). North/ south bodies Irish language act the maze project all delayed. I not saying its right but what they are doing is working for them. In my humble opinion unionism are using the same tactics as 100 years ago. We should do the same ie De valera

  7. BaldyBapTheBarber August 10, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    Ciaran a chara,

    A devastating analysis on Unionism. The unionist leadership and electorate should sit up and take heed of this type of critical assessment. The piece is devastating also in the sense that this is the predicament we find ourselves in.

    Thoroughly enjoyed the blog Ciaran. Well done.

    • William Fay August 10, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

      Baldy, what planet are you on if you believe that is a decent critical analysis of what has gone on in the last twenty years.

      • Ciaran Mc August 11, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

        Perhaps William, in consultation with Jude ofcourse, you could blog your own “decent critical analysis of the past 20 years.”

        • William Fay August 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

          Yes Ciaran, subject to an invite, I would be only glad to.

          • Jude Collins August 11, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

            Tell me your topic, send me your blog and, within the restraints of personal abuse and libel, I’ll happily put it up. Mind you, I don’t accept blogs from any Tom, Dick or Will so I’ll be expecting something good…

  8. Barry Fennell August 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    An excellent analysis Ciaran and very much reflective of what is going on within PUL politics – the recent ‘graduated response’ didn’t do them any favours and highlights to us all that they are more fearful of change than anyone. I would also challenge Brian Rowans point regarding republicans – what more do they have to do? Before their actions which at the time were groundbreaking opened up the space and enabled dialogue – at the time Unionists seemed unimpressed and this is still the mindset that exists today. The collective fear of change and the unwillingness to take risky and uncomfortable decisions coupled with the reality of their open disdain of Sinn Fein has given us dysfunctional and poisonous politics. A reboot or a boot up the arse – people are fed up.

    • William Fay August 10, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

      Barry, another little republican acronym, PUL, it’s getting to the stage you are talking a different language, maybe it’ll catch on better than gaelic.

      • Patrick J Dorrian August 11, 2014 at 9:57 am #

        Protestant Unionist Loyalist Community was coined by themselves and not by republicans at the initiation of the flags protest in 2012

  9. neill August 10, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    Self awareness seems to be a concept that many of the contributors to this bog seem not to be able to grasp still I will point out some reasons why Unionists find it hard working with Republicans

    1 Once again the Leader of SF is a compulsive liar and of low moral character if the leadership of SF reflects Republicanism surely you can understant why unionism doesnt trust a single word that comes from SF

    2 You stopped Killing people and you expect Unionist to roll over and let their bellies be tickled and say let bygones be bygones?

    3 In 1983 Parliamentery elections SF polled 102,000 votes obviously these people had no problems supporting terrorism which also sent a message that the Nationalist community had no problems supporting violence against their unionist neighbours.

    There are many more reasons but dont expect Unionism to be bosom friends with Republicans until the wounds have began to properly heal and that will take time much time

    • RJC August 10, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

      The thing is Neill, in what you’ve just written you could substitute ‘Unionist’ for ‘Republican’, ‘Republican’ for ‘Unionist’ and ‘SF’ for ‘DUP’ and your points would still stand.

    • ANOTHER JUDE August 10, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

      Neill,
      What about the thousands who voted for Ian Paisley, a total bigot and man with a rather questionable past? Every political party in the north supported political violence, every single one. How many decades have to pass before Unionists accept that Republicans are equals? I am afraid we can not wait much longer.

    • Ciaran Mc August 11, 2014 at 9:39 am #

      Neil a chara, thank you for your response. A few points for you to consider. Do you actually think Republicans find it easy working with Political Unionism? I would say the word frustrated would be an appropriate term to use here. Regardless of frustrations, its Republicans who have continually shown leadership and political maturity as Political Unionism revert to “playground politics” and “political immaturity.” I mean, “graduated response” – can you explain what that means? Are you comfortable with this term? Do you trust this? Do you see this as a viable strategy for political Unionism? Or do you see this as part of Political Unionisms “hide and seek” political agenda?

      Like I stated in the article, Republicans have made bold moves, some beyond their comfort zone – Would you commend such moves? Have Political Unionism reciprocated in any shape or form? Or do they plan to continually huff, run away and hide? Are they capable of reciprocating? If anything evidence suggests Political Unionism are the antagonists, incapable of instilling any positivity into the process. Republicans have been hurt too, would you agree? This is by no means a one way process – again another failure of Political Unionism to recognise this.

      1. You stoop to attacking Gerry Adams – how original. “Compulsive liar’ and “low moral character.” Think about these terms and see if you can conjure up any individuals within the Political Unionist family who these same terms can be applied too. Why always attack Gerry Adams? Would you agree Neil, that Gerry Adams has been instrumental to the peace process? Would you agree without his political influence we might not have progressed thus far?

      2. “You” stopped killing people? That’s a pretty loose term Neil. You might need to consider this one. Are all Republicans murderers? I think not. At no stage did I mention an expectation of Unionists rolling over and accepting what has happened. But, how do you see the future? Should we all just remain bitter about the past and leave things as they are? Will Political Unionists continue to use the past to prevent progress in the future? Should Republican’s take the same attitude with the state to impede their progressive vision? We just don’t expect people to forgive and forget, but we must look to the future with hope that the past can’t always dictate our aspirations. Political Unionism have failed to engage in dealing with the past. They won’t even sit with Republicans to discuss it. Haass was a lost opportunity – Political Unionism caved in when they had to make a decision, didn’t they? But the question remains – Is Political Unionism more interested in dealing with the past or dealing with flags and parades? Political Unionism need to get their priorities right.

      3. For your attention SF polled 102,701 votes in 1983 – you might want to check your source of statistics. You miss a key point here however. Previous to this, Republicans had no viable political alternative and rightly saw the benefit of the ballot box in the wake of the Hunger Strikes. Are you telling me that those 102,701 people who voted for Sinn fein all supported the IRA and use of violence? Where is your evidence to support this? Perhaps these people voted for and supported the “Republican” aspirations of Sinn Fein, the political party? You also make reference to “supporting violence against their unionist neighbours” – As far as I have ever seen, this was never anyone’s objective to support violence against Unionists. It was this Ballot Box strategy that brought us to where we are today. Without it, perhaps we could still be living in a conflict situation …

      • Ciaran Mc August 11, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

        Apologies Neill, I misspelt your name on a few occasions.

        • ben madigan August 11, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

          “graduated response” – can you explain what that means? Are you comfortable with this term?
          I took the time to find out what a “graduated response” actually meant
          Graduated response (also known as three strikes) is a protocol or law, adopted in several countries, aimed at reducing unlawful file sharing.
          http://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/the-graduated-response-3-strikes-and-your-out/
          great article Ciaran – very lucid analysis putting forth what many people are thinking

    • Patrick J Dorrian August 11, 2014 at 10:03 am #

      In the same way, Neil, unionists expect republicans to accept their word. These are the same people who vilified O’Neill for trying to modernise the 6 counties and to move it away from sectarian politics. These are the same unionists that re-organised the terror group, the uvf, to kill RCs; to pretend there was an IRA threat by blowing up reservoirs and to beat up students protesting for civil rights. As far as one can see, unionism is still entrenched in its same old sectarianism and is unwilling to change. Tickle its belly indeed!

  10. paddykool August 10, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    Great stuff Ciaran. A Grimms FairyTale for the new age isn’t it . Twenty years already, eh? Jude and all us guys over sixty will understand how time seems to blast on by as you get older. …but twenty bloody years of this slow strip tease that pretends it is political movement.? Who’d have thought they could spin this one out so slowly and never reach a conclusion?
    Well ..I said it before… peace didn’t come dropping slow enough for unionism…to paraphrase Mr Yeats.They would have been much happier with the way things were with the ongoing violence. In itself , the violent struggle had also, in a sense, allowed unionist politics well off the hook . They would never have to think about an alternative future so they actually never did.I think they didn’t really believe that the thing was about to end …for real… They were totally unprepared for a cessation and had no idea how to respond to it other than to disparage it and ask for even more confessions of guilt. Never mind that ..where’s the guns too! They are still asking some twenty years later. They also had no idea how they would break it to their community that the cash cow of security and security foces pay was about to be slaughtered….as indeed it duly was. All that money was going into only one section of the community for all those years. I said somewhere else about the choppers being pulled out of the skies. Remember them? Remember the patrols stopping your car on the way to work ? Remember being searched every time you went shopping?…All those handy wee jobs for the boys …All gone.
    The republicans , of course have a plan for the future which will by its innate nature be destructive to the current unionist ideology, so you might say why would they ever bother helping republicans by working with them ? if they work with republicans they are only going to destroy who exactly they are. They have no plan other than standing still..That’s what unionism actually means to them. It means keeping things exactly as they currently are .It’s what a conservative mind wants to do .It wants to “conserve” all that it is in a jar like aspic.
    In fact it is so conservative that it would happily wind the hands of the clock backwards from a standing -still position …back to some never- never land where they knew exactly where they stood in the world.A nice black and white scenario that was easy to understand…where the good guys wore the white hats and the bad guys wore the black hats . We all know there were heroes and villains on both sides but political unionism has yet to get to grips with that concept.I don’t believe they have the imagination to realise even that much..They are not prepared to see another point of view or even accept the “idea” that another political plan is actually legitimate.Republicanism can always grow but i’m not sure that political unionism can…. and that in itself is a recipe for paranoia.
    They have accepted by walking away from the Haass talks and any other talks they attend, that they see it as a losing place to be .Well it is for them, isn’t it? They’ll always be the ones who have to give because they are the ones who consume all our resources every summer with their addiction to marching, flags , bonfires and all the rest . They are the ones who are racking up all those bills .The rest of us are paying for all that old flannel.
    They have nowhere else to go ….but lose because beyond this tiny island the majority of our fellows in the UK, if given a straight choice ,would dump them without ceremony.If the rest of the UK actually knew how much this madness has cost them… they’d dump them now without a thought .. .
    At the moment we have a stalemate where the politics are becoming more and more the kind that children in the playground enjoy.We are all paying for that as movement grinds to a halt .I really believe that unionism has seen that their future will only be assured if politics grinds to a halt and direct rule is brought back in . The plan seems to be how to do that little trick without copping the blame for it.

  11. William Fay August 10, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

    Ciaran, what was that republican rant all about, and please also put in plain terms the meaning of the new republican phrase ‘political unionism’. Is it to enter the vocabulary, just like ‘securocrats’, a favourite term of GA over the last 20 years.
    Unionism has a problem with republicanism, one that is not going to go away, they (republicans) want to destroy the NI state! that hasn’t changed, just their methods. You can dress it up any way you want, but that is the general view of unionism. I actually am at a loss as to what irish republicanism has delivered post ceasefire, other than they are no longer killing people and destroying property. Blair’s government delivered on every republican demand, even at a time when violent republicanism was on its knees. What do you expect unionism to deliver, I’m not sure at this stage?
    As I’ve stated previously, consociationalism dosent work, and the sooner we realise this and allow the middle ground some space to prosper, then we might eventually get some real governance.

    • paddykool August 10, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

      Hi William…I would consider language like ….”destroy the N.Irish state “…..to be pretty emotive and pumped -up…No one’s going to raze the crops to the ground or lay the land to waste ……but if a majority eventually wants to change the constitution or the political setup by means of the ballot box…surely that is legitimate politics.It is not an act of war.The question always is…how will our wilder citizens respond to legitimate politics.Will they even understand them?You see …it always seems that politics are shoved aside in the end anyway and guns are produced..
      It’s no good unionism squealing that they’d prefer politics and then when they get that very thing , they decide not to play the game anyway …That’s where we are 20 years later….and counting…..

    • Ciaran Mc August 11, 2014 at 10:14 am #

      William a chara, thank you for your response. William you rightly hit the nail on the head when you state ‘Unionism has a problem with republicanism.’ I think to be honest this is an under statement. Regardless of this, Republicans are not going to go away, thats a fact and one Political Unionism must start getting used to. The old Paisley mantra of “smash Sinn Fein” is long gone. Does Political Unionism perhaps fear Republicanism and thats the problem you cite?

      You ask what I expect Unionists to deliver? You say you are not sure, I don’t think Political Unionists are sure either. To date, what have they delivered? What have Political Unionists offered to the whole process post 1994 apart from continuous efforts of throwing their toys out of the pram? Like i stated in the article, Republicans finds themselves where they are today, because thats where they want to be, Political Unionism finds itself where it is, because it has to be.

      For many years Political Unionism condemned the action of Republicans. Now Political Unionists find themselves in an uncomfortable place and they don’t know how to deal with it. They use terms such as “cultural war” and “graduated response” to scare monger instead of engaging in progressive acts such as compromising, negotiating, dealing with the past, dealing with controversial issues et al.

  12. PJ Campbell August 10, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

    Are we going to spend another twenty years trying to take Unionists by the hand? Is it not near time the British Government gave them a deserved boot in the hoop.

    • neill August 10, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

      Well it has almost taken 20 years to house train Republicans….

      • Jude Collins August 10, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

        Neill – I think this verges on unalloyed abuse. If I don’t put up any similar comments you’ll know why not.

        • neill August 10, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

          Jude catch youself on you have no problem verbally attacking unionists as do most of your contributors and yet you try to pull me up on one sarky comment still it goes to prove the point that Republicans like handing it out but are not capable of taking it

          • Jude Collins August 11, 2014 at 7:51 am #

            You point out an example, Neill, and I promise you it’ll receive the same treatment. It’s the insult, not the insulter that counts.

      • William Fay August 10, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

        Neil, you should know the rules by now, it’s only the republicans who are allowed to dish out the abuse

        • Jude Collins August 11, 2014 at 7:52 am #

          William – see my response to Neill.

      • paddykool August 10, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

        Well you might add Neill that unionists haven’t even realised that they need any house- training at all! I mean, they are pretty poor at this political game to all intents and have a tendency to huff and run away when they lose a debate…Being house-trained involves a little more than looking well-fed and buttoned into a tightly fitting suit….and remembering to put a tie on. I just don’t think they really get it at all…

      • Declan August 11, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

        I think at the rate Unionism is functioning at Neill, it could be 20 years before they are anywhere as near politically astute as Republicans. They most certainly are currently operating 20 years behind the rest of us – as referred to in the article – dinosaur politics.

    • William Fay August 10, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

      Ok, PJ, and if that dosent work you could start murdering us again.

  13. Navanman August 10, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

    Oops! Lost the last bit of my previous comment….We should do the same as what De Valera proposed after the 1916 rising ie we ignore them. Have our own culture war. Promote all things Irish eg more all Ireland Fleadhs, make it easier and cheaper to obtain an Irish passport. Voting rights for the Irish Presidential elections. Irish politicians to build relationships with other Irish politicians in the north.

  14. Micheal August 10, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    I’d like to start by congratulating Ciaran on a great piece, in fact brilliant and right to the point. To me it started when Sinn Fein actually decided to sit round a table and talk things out. Unionism as a whole jeered and belittled Sinn Fein before this as being a paramilitary organisation and said the only way they could be taken seriously was to set the gun to the side and get round the negotiating table. Well look where that’s got us. Unionism completely ignores martin McGuinness in the halls and corridors of Stormont and still refuses to work properly with Sinn Fein.

    They pretty much have the North of Ireland and Stormont exactly where they want us. Their disgraced minister refuses to leave office even though it has been proven he lied to us and Stormont on numerous occasions and the DUP Leader refuses to kick ‘him’ out of his posting…..oh wait, didn’t Neill say something about the Sinn Fein Leader being a “liar” hmmm kettle and pot? Anyway, Unionism seems to be the problem here. They have no respect for anyone other than themselves so much so that people have come to expect absolutely nothing from them. Is this the problem with our political system over here, Unionism isn’t moving forward with the rest of us?

  15. neill August 11, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    Unionism isn’t moving forward with the rest of us?

    Perhaps its the case that you are catching up with the rest of us?

    • Ciaran Mc August 11, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

      Neill a chara, perhaps you would like to enlighten us all as to how and why you believe “you are all catching up with the rest of us”? I genuinely would be intrigued to read this piece.

  16. Ciaran Mc August 11, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    Ladies and gents, thank you to all those who read the article and commented on it. There are some excellent and very insightful contributions that give a lot of food for thought. On a personal note, i believe in the current political climate we find ourselves in, a time for reflection is positive. I mean, 20 years ago, who could have imagined we would be where we are today? I had just started Secondary level Education in 1994 when the Ceasefires were announced and most of my life since then has been subsumed by positive political change. Some of you have lived through and been affected by the dark days of the troubled past, but I believe it would be a pity if this political progress all grounded to a halt at this stage. We have come a long way and I do believe we still have a long way to go.

  17. paul August 11, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    Very good piece Ciaran, . What Has Unionism offered in twenty odd years? Rejectionism.. Unionists clamored for politices for democracy, well they have it now and they no longer seem to want it. Any comments about ‘housetraining republicans’ are an example of one eyed view to the conflict. I challenge any party to say they are without guilt. Paiseley, Mcrea, Dodds, Robinson, Trimble among many have shared the stage with loyalist paramilitaries during the conflict. Please clean your own house before commenting on others.

    • ANOTHER JUDE August 11, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

      Paul,
      Not only did they share the stage, some of them shared out the weapons.

  18. Ruaidri Ua Conchobai August 11, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    Ciarán,
    Excellent. We need to have private words – I want to know how the hell you managed to so accurately articulate my thoughts on this subject 🙂

    Political unionism signed the GFA and other agreements but it’s apparent they never had any intention of honouring them. All Unionists wanted was for PIRA to disarm and to be allowed to maintain the status quo within their bigoted wee “orange” statelet.

    I believe, there’s been an abject failure by both SF and the SDLP to effectively confront the above and to concede they’ve both allowed the genuine grievances of their own electorate to be smothered by completely fabricated Unionist “grievance” issues – the time has come to set-out both the genuine and false grievance issues and compel the media to address them.

    William and Neill,
    Learn to accept the reality, the GFA and other agreements were not a ‘final settlement’ but an agreement’ to peacefully purpose our fundamentally different objectives; you want to maintain the UK Union link and we strive to re-establish all-Ireland unity.

    Unionists stupidly try to play the “we’re the victims” card despite the world knowing that in 1969 they started the violence in response to reasonable civil rights demands by Irish Catholics; Unionists killed the first soldier, the first Policeman, the first civilian adults and children; plus Unionists set-off the initial bombs; see my blog post http://belfast-child.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/Ulster-Stands-At-The-Crossroads.html

    If Unionists persist in living in the past and seek to go further back into our history to drag-out injustices by themuns, you can’t escape the injustices your colonial British forefathers inflicted on the majority Irish Catholic population; see an outline at paragraph 13 of my blog post http://belfast-child.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/orange-order-myths-lies-distortions.html

    Welcome to 2014
    Unionists can either wallow in a negative past or join us in building a positive future…

    • ben madigan August 11, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

      “Political unionism signed the GFA and other agreements but it’s apparent they never had any intention of honouring them.”
      The DUP and the Orange Order never supported power sharing. Once the DUP got the majority of Unionist votes Paisley was forced to agree to it under threat of Joint Rule from London and Dublin (the only solution that has never been tried and could just work as an interim agreement).
      He was soon ousted as leader of the DUP (see maillie’s interviews) and since then we have had DUP and Orange Order refusal to co-operate on anything.
      How long this stalemate is going to continue is anyone’s guess but I wouldn’t put my money on anything permanent – particularly if Scotland votes yes in September.