‘Sunday Politics’ and a coming referendum?


‘Sunday Politics’ on BBC TV is usually interesting viewing. It’s got Andrew Neill as presenter, and while he mightn’t win the Most-Loveable-Human-Being-I’ve-Ever-Met contest, he does know how to lob a hand-grenade question. He had David Davis, the man who was once considered a cert to lead the Tories, on just now. Neill’s  first question  was “When are you going to join UKIP, then, David Davis?”  which might have set a lesser man gulping and um-awing. Davis handled it with the good humour of a man who sees his arch-enemy (yes, Viriginia, that is David Cameron) in the unhappy situation of having  first lost one MP to UKIP, which could seem unfortunate, but then lost a second, which definitely looked like carelessness. Or worse.

But it’s the breakaway bit of Sunday Politics that’s the fun bit. That’s when they open the ‘regions’ slot, and today we had Mark Carruthers talking to journalists Dearbhla McDonald of the Indo and Liam Clark of the Belfast Telegraph. Clarke was interesting on the  Poots-Robinson spat – or maybe ‘fight to the death’ would be more accurate.

Poots said Robinson would be gone as leader before the next election; Clarke said he tended to agree. And so do I. A man spouting political blood from so many orifices as Robinson currently is does not, no matter what he says, look like a man in good political-leadership health. Those tweets of support looked phoney, the lemmings talk on TV from Robinson sounded not just contradictory of what he’d said earlier, it sounded, well, kinda fatal for a political party leader. Can you imagine Gerry Adams saying that some of his senior party members had the political vision of a lemming? Or Ian Paisley Sr – when he was still in office, that is. Once out of it, of course, Paisley Sr  let fly with rare abandon. Between The Doc calling Robinson ‘the beast’ and Eileen calling Nigel Dodds …what – was it ‘Dodds the sod’? Uncomplimentary, anyway. And then Peter in turn calls his ex-Minister for Health a lemming. To paraphrase W Shakespeare, playwright and poet: there’s something rotten in the DUP that smells of ancient fish.

The other interesting Sunday Politics thing was that Liam Clarke said his newspaper’s poll on Monday would show a majority here in this little stateen want a border poll. EH? Up to now we were told it was only the mad Shinners that wanted one, now we’re told it’s a majority of people! Right lads – time to go for the fall-back position, which both Mark and Liam quickly adopted: a poll here is one thing, but wouldn’t the south have to vote too eventually, ha ha ha, and they wouldn’t be keen on taking on a £10 billion subvention, ha ha ha, chuckle chuckle. I was nearly laughing myself until I remembered: that much-bandied £10 billion figure doesn’t take into account the amount of money tax-payers here pour into the coffers of British Treasury. The final sum might look quite different after you’d done that sum.

And listen, Mark and Liam – I know these things have to be said a few times to get through to people, but you’re both bright guys. You know that the vision of Irish reunification which many people on this island have is not of the south ‘taking over’ the north. In fact for most nationalists and republicans the thought is horrifying. What is proposed is a new state, a new country where a new kind of politics could grow and  a new self-reliance would emerge – yes indeed, within the EU. The north is not one of these little trailers that’s going to be hitched on behind the south’s big car. A unified Ireland would  be one totally new vehicle. And if you thought an awful lot of Scottish people got excited about the prospect of independence, wait until this poll finally gets unwrapped . You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

23 Responses to ‘Sunday Politics’ and a coming referendum?

  1. Am Ghobsmacht September 28, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    “You know that the vision of Irish reunification which many people on this island have is not of the south ‘taking over’ the north. In fact for most nationalists and republicans the thought is horrifying. What is proposed is a new state, a new country where a new kind of politics could grow and a new self-reliance would emerge – yes indeed, within the EU. The north is not one of these little trailers that’s going to be hitched on behind the south’s big car. A unified Ireland would be one totally new vehicle.’

    That needs to be shouted from the rooftops Dr C.


    • Jude Collins September 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

      go raibh maithagat, AG – Thank you.

    • neill September 28, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

      Piffle in the extreme does anybody really believe this new Ireland would be any different to what there is now.

      The poor would still be poor and the rich would still be the rich and once again why would anybody trust the word of a man who shielded child abuse?

      Get used to the fact that Northern Ireland exists and the south doesnt want you oh they might rattle the cage and make bold statements buts thats very cheap in the end….

      • Am Ghobsmacht September 29, 2014 at 11:07 am #


        “Piffle in the extreme does anybody really believe this new Ireland would be any different to what there is now.”

        Well, yes.
        It wouldn’t be a paradise by any means and the problems of the 21st century would definitely be there but we can’t rule out the possibility that the lower corporation tax might certainly benefit Belfast’s industry.

        And if Belfast’s industry improves then so does the rest of (what is now) NI.

        The republic’s economy is at least showing signs of recovery: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29365484

        Furthermore, we can’t compete with their tax laws, even Exxon was seriously considering a move down south. (Though the EU might reset this imbalance).

        The peak of our economic ‘success’ was built on an economy of knocking down old buildings and building crappy looking houses with a ripple effect of property speculation from the south.

        That’s a rubbish achievement.

        I would like to see the shipyards and Belfast win a few more contracts (doable) as well as the other industries, which is more probable under a low corporate tax regime.

        Our railways were badly hit by partition (and Beeching of course) but unification might make such projects more viable e.g, the L’Derry – Sligo line proposal.

        If ‘Ulster’ has a better chance of flourishing and being free from religious bias in a united Ireland than it does now then I’d go for that option, these were after all the principle arguments for unionism 100 years ago.

        Now our industry is impotent and we’re governed by religious head cases, Carson would be appalled.

        • neill September 29, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

          When N Ireland gets coperation tax cuts why would you want a United Ireland?

      • Ryan September 29, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

        “The south doesn’t want you”

        Yes, Neil, that explains why the South had a claim to the 6 counties for decades and amended, NOT dropped, that claim in 1998 as part of the GFA. Not to mention they have had an official say on matters in NI since the Anglo Irish Agreement under Margaret Thatcher.

        Yes, Neil, your statement makes total sense…..

        • neill September 29, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

          You appear to be a slow learner yes they have claimed N Ireland for decades and what exactly have they done about it mmmm let’s work it out shall we?

  2. Brian Patterson September 28, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    Gerry and Martn, Be careful what you wish for……..A least ten years reform of health and education is needed before even nationalist voters will espouse a UI. People will see it as a stark choice between HSE and National health, free schooling and buying schoolbooks. ; even higher car taxes will come into the equation (granted the dole is much higher in the 26) – and I speak as a third generation republican implacably opposed to the Union.

    • Jude Collins September 28, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

      You may be right, Brian. On the other hand, you may be wrong. If people vote with that kind of binary right-now choice, they might well vote No. (Assuming their patriotic sentiment centred on their wallet.) But as I’ve tried to say, the choice would not be ‘Would you like to be part of the present twenty-six counties?’ It would be ‘Would you like to create a new Ireland?’

  3. Perkin Warbeck September 28, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Your reference, Esteemed Blogmeister, to both the regional portion of the ‘Sunday Politics’ programme with its cosy cronyism between host and guest is noted with a nod of recognition ..

    As is the prospect of the ‘south taking over the north’ is ‘horrifying for most nationalists and republicans’ with an even more Robinsonian nod of recognition, akin even to that of a fluffy toy dog inside the back window of a motor vehicle on a particularly rocky road,

    The imminent arrival at UTV of Pate Kenny, whose skills-set is eminently spreadable, is not irrelevant in this context, if one may instance a recent discussion he hosted on his DOB funded radio programme on Newstalk..

    Not PK has been called ‘the thinking girl’s George Clooney’ such is his alleged state of self-preservation despite his antique age. This may or may not be so. Worth noting though is the fact that while ‘Kenny’ in the Leprechaun for ‘merchant’ (ceannai) – apt, no? – on the other hand ‘Clooney’ is derived from ‘cluanai’ in the Leprechaun which translates as, surprise, surprise – ‘seducer’

    (DOB, incidentally, is not an abbreviation or even short for Dobermann Pinscher, a large black and tan dog but rather for Denis O’Brien a large, vigilant media watchdog in the Lootocracy of the Free Southern Stateen).

    It brought to mind a hilarious radio sketch of many years ago in which Marty Feldman did a mock commentary of a ‘soccer’ (that’s Middle English for ‘football’) game between England and Germany.

    As the game kicks off MF is all disinterested and neutral of tone, not unlike the referee who is Swiss. But as the match progresses and the game begins to go away from England, Marty’s tone darkens and the ref begins to morph into a …..Swiss German. Long before the end of the game, with England well and truly on the rack by this time, a shrill and rattled MF has taken to calling the ref a …..Nazi schwinehund !

    Patronising Kenny was in the role of disinterested host as he chaired a discussion entitled something along the lines of ‘Do you give a toss about Leprechaun?’; In the green corner was Julian de Spainn, ceannaire Conradh na Gaeilge/boss of the Gaelic League while in the red, white and blue corner was that maestro of gallows humour, Declan Lynch of the Sunday Independent Cult (sic).

    Curiously enough, the neutral host, as bland, Swiss and inoffensive as a bar of Toblerone itself, omitted to mention that both he and DL (oh, happy initials !), of Newstalk and SIC (sic) respectively, share a common Chancellor (one almost wrote Chancer !) of the Exchequer. (See DOB above). The merest momentary lapse, no doubt.

    Now, as Jane Austen never remarked, it is a truth universally acknowledged that whenever Leprechaun (aka the First Official Language or FOL) gets to play against The Queen’s English (the Second Official Language or SOL) in the Free Southern Stateen, it is always an Away game. Always.

    (Curiously enough, whenever the SOLdier’s Song gets sung in the Queen’s English or SOL it is rather more of a rebel song than when it gets sung, as it normally does, in the FOL de lol of Leprechaun. Odd, somewhat).

    The discussion progressed along predictable lines with PK not slow to do a stunning take off of the Marty Feldman commentary. Like when the speaker In the green corner positively mentioned the translation of official EU documents into Leprechaun, the disinterested chairman was quick to pip ! pip ! with the pea of his shrill whistle thus: ‘Madness ! Obfuscation ! Bizzy bureaucracy !’ (MOB).

    A yellow card and a last warning was duly waved at the speaker in the green corner for the obvious foul of promoting, erm, MOB rule.

    No jolt when both the impartial host and the speaker in the red, white and red corner began to sound like a cover version of Hank Williams Snr and Jnr. as they rendered ‘There’s a tear in my beer’ as ‘There’s a sneer in my jeer’.

    Mirabile dictu,, the last ‘focal’/word was left by the host, PK, to the redoubtable DL.

    Now, what a God-send of a word ‘focal’ is for enthusiasts of the Q’s English in the Free Southern Stateen: ‘focal’ of course being Lerprechaun for ‘word’. English-language enthusiasts love to savour it, the very taste of it, the rough-hewn texture of it, and then, having masticated it like Billy-o, love to spit it out like it was a lump of tasteless chewing gum which had lost its flavor on the bedpost of his upper palate overnight, the better for Leprechauns to stand upon.

    Of course, ‘focal’ rhymes with ‘buckle’ which may or may not be fortuitous. For a buckle is, is it not, a device of fastening two loose ends together with one end attached to it and the other end secured to it by a catch n a secure but adjustable manner. PK being, for instance, at one end, and DL at the other.

    Yes, indeed, ‘focal’ is one big macho, metal buckle of a word, all the better to lash the Leprechaun with and to leave the last one with DL: ‘This whole thing about Leprechaun in Ireland is that ii is just about THE biggest LIE in the WHOLe world – EVER !’.

    Ever the master of the understatement is Declan Lynch as befits the resident Pierpoint of the Sunday Independent Cult. And what a predilection this irredemable provincial has for the speaking in …..CAPTIALS.

    Only he didn’t pronounce ‘LIE’ thus, but as….’LOY’. Which does not entirely strain credulity seeing that DL who hails from Athlone, the anus mundi in the middle of the Bog of Allen where the local boys are dab even DOB hands at wielding a loy. A loy, of course, being an early Irish spade with a long heavy handle made of ash, and a narrow steel plate on the face and single foot rest.

    It first came to literary prominence when Christy Mahon admitted that he ‘just riz the loy and let fall the edge of it on the ridge of his skull and he went down at my feet like an empty sack and never let a grunt or groan out of him after that’. CM is referring to his father here.

    Little wonder that DL sees himself in the role as ‘The Playboy of the West British World’. as he devotes a deal of his waking hours, in the pay of DOB, rizing his loy and letting the edge of it fall on the ridge of every last remaining Leprechaun’s skull. It is also called Paddywhackery.

    DL’s remorseless contention to PK was that ‘you could spent your whole life in Dublin and not hear a grunt or groan of Gaelic out of anybody’.

    Not certain is this provincial Liver-Paddy-lian was tuned into Croke Park yesterday after the replay of the hurling final when not a syllable of the Queen’s E. was to be heard in the ten minute trophy presenting ceremony. DL never refers to ‘hurling’, only ‘stickfighting’.

    Croke Park, of course, was not the only sports arena where sticks were in evidence. over the weekend. Gleneagles was another. During the week Paul McGinley invited Sir Alex Ferguson, Man. Unionist and Knight of the Realm, to address his team. One feels that a chance was lost here.

    For a man who is not behind the door when it comes to putting his GAA background on the front burner, Bainisteoir McGinley could easily have issued the invitation to a far more appropriate individual: Bainisteoir Buffalo Brian Cody. (BBBC). More appropriate on two counts: he trades in a stick-based game, and also, he speaks a recognizable form of the Q.’s English.

    When Pate Kenny spreads himself north of the imaginary frontier and ensconces his Erse-rebutting Arse in the comfortable UTV chair one wonders upon whom he will bestow his favours, as it were. Will it be only those with faces and philosophies as long as a Lurgan spade and will he see to it that the loy is thus adapted to Loyalist specifications. For, the blade of the traditional loy has but a single step for use with the right foot. And the right foot only.

    Now that Newsweek is no more, only Time will tell.

    Perkie must away now, for he cannot tarry.

  4. ANOTHER JUDE September 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    Nationalists do not want the new Ireland to be a stitched up Frankenstein`s monster, the six counties being sewn onto the head of the twenty six, of course we don`t. Ireland has never been independent, it has never been allowed to join the other nations of the World. As for the financial cost, Britain will have to pay several billions of pounds (or Euros, we don`t care) as compensation for the centuries of misery heaped on this place. If they can afford to drop million quid bombs on Iraq (again…) then they can dig deep for us.

    • Virginia September 29, 2014 at 1:50 am #

      Um no that is not going to happen.

      • Wolfe tone September 30, 2014 at 11:14 am #

        Correct me if i am wrong, but doesn’t the British state pays the costs for any medical care that any British citizen incurs in the irish free state? Whether they are holidaying or living there permanently?

  5. paddykool September 28, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    Hi Jude : I would like to see some real ideas for this newly designed Ireland . Let’s have a few floated out there before we have a referendum. There are a hell of a lot of people very unprepared to even think about these potential changes.Just like in Scotland a few weeks back , it might be a case of the devil you know best. ..or if the conspiracy theorists are to be believed , the backroom political machinations that will be the plot of some future movie..the devil you don’t really know at all…
    ….So let’s talk about a New Ireland . Obviously the more conservative brand of unionism would find more in common with the more conservative old school Catholics in that scenario ….once , of course they get over their initial theological insults. They might discover that they both have that same old world superstition in common .They’ll be on the same page on any abortion debate, for example and all that wooliness about evolution will find adherents in a whole new grouping which never reads anything. You could have a whole new kind of conservatives throughout Ireland opposing every modernity .
    There would have to be a completely secular state ,of course, but all voices would be heard. Any religion or none would be a purely personal matter as long as ritual human or animal sacrifice wasn’t on offer in any of the churches. We’d have to have a talk about witchcraft and possibly the Druids ,but I imagine we’d agree to rub along together so long as no one got killed in the process.
    The Health Service and schooling would need to be thrashed out …once and {literally}for all.. Most of us would be happy with the health service as we know it if it was run more efficiently… as it was originally designed , to protect the the poorest and neediest in society …and not the management -heavy version we are currently struggling with.If we had something like that throughout Ireland I’m sure most people would feel no loss. It would need to be a proper republic so I’m afraid that carrying a monarchy would be out of the question . It really isn’t required even though many have that need to feel a “subject” to a particular royal family. It’s not really grown -up behaviour.It’s no more than the fascination that people have for “celebrity”. Instead of “subjects” we’ll be citizens .If the British Royal family wishes to continue to be adored by the readers of “Hello”, there should be no problem . I’m sure the magazine will survive and still be sold on newsstands for anyone with a need to keep up with that soap-opera.
    We’d need to get rid of commemorations that glorify or glorified any past conflicts. Instead we could have an annual “Peace Day” where we all remember that war and killing really isn’t really the way to go .Has any other nation got a pure white flag as a national symbol? Well , if they haven’t ,we could be the first to fly one for the New Ireland .National Anthem? That’s a tricky one. Most of them are boring dirges…all over the world . Maybe we could have a new piece every ten years and have a competition for the best piece of music.A change every ten years would be good .It would take the stodge out of it and renew it for each future generation. You know how these things can get stuck in the past …Like the “Bluebirds over the Cliffs of Dover”….immediately you are in Vera Lynn land in the Second World War. we need something that doesn’t smell of the Leprechaun either or some noses will be knocked out of joint . We should agree that the English language is a pretty good language but if anyone wants to learn Irish, Spanish or Swahili , there should be no stigma attached to it.
    The plusses need to be spelt out very clearly, especially to our currently “unionist” neighbours. Their fears of change really need addressing before those fears are used to whip up another round of violent opposition to any changes in the future.The end result would be an ireland where our unionist neighbours would have real political choices for the first time . They could vote for right wing or left wing parties without feeling they had to cleave to some tribe .The same would be true of everyone else including all those ne immigrants from Europe whose children are growing up scratching their heads at our current mad take on history. They’ll be the voters of the future after all.

  6. North Munsterman September 29, 2014 at 7:42 am #

    The vast majority of people in this part of the country support a Re-united Ireland – no doubt about that. At the moment, unionists will dismiss all such talk as long as they still have a majority in the North – however, from 2020 onwards unionists will be the minority and from the mid-2020’s onwards –> an Electoral minority, a major game-changer.
    From the mid-2020’s onwards, the unionist bargaining position becomes weaker with each passing year – so it would be in unionists own best interests not to leave the inevitable negotiations on too long a finger.

    A Re-united independent Ireland is inevitable – it’s form is yet to be decided but it will be – and has to be – a Re-United Ireland on agreed terms.

    It’s all good.

    • neill September 29, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

      So you keep saying yawn yawn your a good talker though you must know a lot of Munster people to be able to speak for them

    • PremierMan15 September 30, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

      Munster and Connacht (also) would overwhelmingly support a UI in a future referendum-they are gaelic,nationalist areas to their very marrow.I would be concerned by the servile shoneens of south Dublin and their lemmings in the D4 media scuppering a UI.

      • North Munsterman October 1, 2014 at 10:48 am #

        “neill” / “PremierMan15” :

        Thanks for your replies – much appreciated.

        Incidentally, when I refer to “this part of the country”, I am referring to the Republic, which makes up 26 of the 32 counties in the country.

  7. Patrick fahy September 29, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    Jude, You’re right that a referendum in the north will be a different creature entirely from the Scottish referendum. Scottish nationalism while vibrant is as much cultural as political. After all, there has been relative peace in Scotland since its annexation. Our situation is entirely different, punctuated as it has been with rebellions including1916 and the War of Independence which led to freedom for the 26 counties, followed by our 50 years plus experience of discrimination and alienation in the northern state, and then the 40 year conflict. The call of nationhood is extremely strong here. It will overcome such economic arguments as there may be Anyway, I doubt very much that those arguments have real validity.

  8. ben madigan September 29, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    Couple of points I’d like to make – first many people in northern ireland who are often not Loyalists or orangemen and women actually do feel 100% british – it may be due to having practically no contact with the Republic of ireland for almost 90 years, BBC and british newspapers, school curriculum etc.
    They may be swayed by economic arguments but probably feel better together in austerity UK even if a case could be made for economic advantages in a United ireland. So what’s to happen to them?
    secondly “fears of change” really mean “fears of the Orange order losing its hegemony and power as it piggy backs on to Unionist parties and paramilitary organizations to rule the roost in Northern ireland” How is that going to be addressed?

  9. philip kelly September 29, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

    1916 martin mcguinness first minister ( stormont) sinn fein in gov in republic , what will the unionist do then , united ireland in all but name bring it on lads

    • giordanobruno September 29, 2014 at 6:40 pm #

      I see one small flaw in your logic there, Philip!