Waiting to hear the p- word.


It’s at the planning stages still. Throughout Ireland, thought is being given to ways in which the events of 1916 might be best commemorated. Yesterday, for example, there was a fine article by Tim Pat Coogan in a series the Irish Times is running, and today Vincent Woods has an article about how the arts, particularly music, might contribute to commemoration. What neither Coogan nor Woods nor any other commentator includes is the p- word: partition.

Tim Pat, for example, is scathing about the grubby corruption and greed that characterised the southern state over so many decades. Vincent Woods speaks of how the arts can encompass the complexity of the Easter Rising, with its courage and self-sacrifice as well as its toll of suffering and death. But like virtually all writers on the subject, they steer clear of an obvious fact: Padraig Pearse wasn’t talking about just 26 counties when he called on the Irish people to strike for independence.

“But we’ve resolved the Irish question”  some would say. The south is an independent state; the north is part of the UK and will remain so, by the will of the Irish people, until a majority north and south decide otherwise. That’’s what the Good Friday Agreement was about. What’s the point in poking at an issue that has been resolved?

Well, maybe because it hasn’t been resolved. Unionists are keenly aware that they are on the window-ledge of the Union. Britain patently doesn’t want to have them and resents paying the north’s bills. Nationalists and republicans by definition are people who want to see an end to partition and the emergence of a 32-county republic. With the thought in everyone’s mind, how come no one is talking about it?

Fear is probably the predominant reason. Having emerged from the horrors of the thirty years of conflict,  no one wants to go back to it or anything like it. Pointing out that the six northern counties were also part of Pearse’s dream might encourage violent republicanism to strengthen and re-emerge. It might also encourage a similar bloody-minded response in unionism. Better to let the sleeping dog lie than waken it and receive a mauling.

These are real fears and we are right to protect ourselves from the danger that they might become a reality. But to talk as though a core issue – maybe the core issue  –  didn’t exist when commemorating the Rising  is to undermine the value of any other comments you might make on that topic.

Because partion is a prickly and sensitive subject doesn’t mean we should pretend it doesn’t exist. Quite the contrary: because it arouses strong feelings it should be looked at calmly and dispassionately, not ignored. And we could do worse than start with the cost of Irish unity.

17 Responses to Waiting to hear the p- word.

  1. Dr Michael Hfuhruhurr December 30, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Context – Consider a very ill man not wanting to see the doctor…………the illness will surely go away!

    Just keep the head in the sand, no one will notice that we completely sold out the nation and have had decades of rampant corruption by FF and FG/LP. Money and power is a strong aphrodisiac. In many ways it was not the unionists in the North East preventing unity, it was FF/FG/LP with their heads in the trough fawning over their masters in London. The wealth of the nation still belongs to our British Overlords with their land ownerships and controling our economy via british banks.

    As someone who considers himself Irish, i do so through gritted teeth with shame of being associated with the ruling elite in the South. We ‘Irish’ have turned out to be a nation of cowards. Its a total insult to those who died to celebrate the1916 rising. Only when unity has occured, should this happen.

    • paul December 30, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

      Perfectly stated, proud to be Irish, but cringe at the southern government attitude towards the north and eventual unification. I feel the Irish govt attitude towards partition is one of the greatest head scratchers in the history of civilization. For well over 800 years, the English have used Ireland, its people and resources as their own. They have enacted repressive law after repressive law and enslaved a people and a civilization. The largest mass murder in the country remains unsolved due to British refusal to cooperate. into te investigation despite the Barron reports findings. Yet today, the powers that be feel that a few words of broken Irish by the queen make everything ok. I can’t help but feel that the men of 1916, those who came before and those who came after must feel ashamed. Why does the govt of the Irish nation feel embarassed by the way their freedom was won? Mellows, Plunkett, Ceant, Sands, just waht does modern Ireland think of these men? Do they honor and remember them or would they rather just forget about them. . I know how I feel

  2. Colm Dore December 30, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    There’s another issue, prior even to partition: the rule of law. It’s where ‘The North Began’, and perhaps the real endgame.

    Do the Unionist political parties accept the rule of law? It’s tempting to view the Winter 2012 conflagration as centenary commemorations of Larne 2012. ‘Tragedy, then farce’, as the man said.

    It’s said that no unionist politician would act as DFM to Martin McGuinness as FM. One wonders, then, at the acceptance of a democratic border vote that went the ‘wrong’ way.

    • Jude Collins December 30, 2014 at 11:49 am #

      You echo my own thoughts, Colm. Disturbing but accurate.

  3. paddykool December 30, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    Yes Jude ….Even if a majority North and South agreed to a 32 county republic like France or America , I can’t see rabid unionism taking it without a row …that’s even if the UK plainly washes their hands of them …which they really want to do at heart.

    For a while they’d probably attempt to huddle in a few counties and declare their own little independant state rather than accept that the game was up.They’d probably fight for a while too , if they can find anyone who wants to fight with them, and some would simply run away to the UK unable to accept anything remotely republican.

    There would be unecessary blood letting too….revenge blood letting , if nothing else. There would be a few noisy arseholes who would whip the whole thing up into a senseless storm, like Paisley and his guldering ilk did in the past ,even though it would be a pointless thing to do, given that the republican ideal has been running in this direction , unstoppably for a very long time .

    They’ve decided to continue their “project” by purely political means and have been surprisingly successful with this approach. They’ve even caught both the Irish southern establishment and the Westminster by surprise. They had no inkling that they would grow quite so quickly or so big.Now they will have to deal with that growth because it looks like it is going to continue.

    Anyone who lived through the troubled forty odd years has no desire to go through that again…Instead of british helicoptors filling the skies , we’d be landed with ones from the new 32 county republic supplying their new fortified bases . The “terrorists” would only have a new name .The game would continue to rumble on.this time with no solution possible… Who would wish for a scenario like that?

    • ben madigan December 30, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

      paddy – should a majority North and South agre to a 32 county republic like France or America i honestly don’t think the threat of loyalist violence is a real worry. They will have the Uk, ireland, the EU, USA, australia, new Zealand, canada stacked up against them

      Have a look at https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/loyalist-backlash/

      i have faith in the people of Ni . They will act in their own best interests – not indulge the obsessions of a minority


      • paddykool December 31, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

        Aw Ben …I’m only describing a possible future based on past performances. The latest uproar was only a year or so ago after all and it was over flying bits of cloth all year.,,.I suppose if every citizen is clearly treated equally , without any kind of silly triumphalism,, unlike in past times, it would eventually be acceptable for even moribund unionism. They might actually finally understand that being in control of your own destiny is actually a very good thing for your mental health.

  4. Iolar December 30, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    The drip feed of confidential state files from Stormont merely confirms what most people knew about the role of Civil Service, the RUC and the former leader of the DUP. The Civil Service viewed the Anglo Irish Agreement as a sell-out to Dublin and the irredentist claim to the North. Such misguided opinions placed little weight on the prevailing social and economic conditions in the north of Ireland that contributed to the violence and bloodshed over the past forty years. Mass rallies against the Agreement coincided with an upsurge in (dis)loyalist killings and denials about collusion in the killings from within the security (?) forces. Words spoken in the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ resulted in citizens losing their lives, “the evil that men do lives after them…” Let us not forget the boast from members of the the military reaction force about being prepared to engage in murder, again. Now is as good a time as ever to question the legitimacy of Partition.

  5. neill December 30, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Some interesting points:

    When Tim Pat Coogan one of the most republican authors there has ever been makes no mention of partition in his article on the 1916 celebrations that clearly tells you he doesnt feel its a big issue anymore.

    The southern parties excluding Sf dont think its a big issue if they did believe it was they would have at least come up with a costed plan for unity which which they havnt once again this tells you something.

    Unionist on the window ledge of the Union so were does that leave Nationalists then? You have to do so much better than that Jude.

    As for a border poll fire away i say would love to see your face when it shows a clear desire to stay in the Union for at least another one or two generations at least perhaps your Grandchildren will live to see a united Ireland if they get very old….; )

    Going back to costed plan for a united Ireland how come SF have not done one yet with all of therir resources they get it should be a peace of cake.

    • Jude Collins December 30, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

      Ah neill – how dazzling is your logic! Tim Pat doesn’t mention the p- word, therefore he thinks it’s unimportant. Have you ever talked to him? I have. I’d say he thinks it’s important. But you’re right about successive Dublin governments – they don’t want a bunch of nordies coming and upsetting their cosy little pile of brown paper parcels. I’d like a border poll any time and you may well be right – there might be more who’d vote for the union than against. But it’d get people to focus on the issue – as in Scotland. You do know that Scot Nats numbers swelled three-fold after the referendum? Finally you’re right – SF haven’t produced a costed plan and they should have. See? Is feidir linn – yes we CAN sing from the same hymn sheet. Betimes.

  6. Perkin Warbeck December 30, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    There are times, even Irish times, Esteemed Blogmeister, when you just have to hand it to The Unionist Times. When it comes to the b-word, balance, they are the dabbest of dab hands. Indubitably so.

    If with the one hand, they offer the reader a dog, with the other they will offer the reader, albeit a different reader perchance, a cat. This canine and feline dichotomy is a feature of this august organ.

    Thus, while they run a series about the 1916 Schmozzle they simultaneously provide a platform today for one, Una Mullally.

    Tim Pat Coogan referred to ‘the doormat of Europe’ and ‘fidiuciary irresponsibility’. A darling word, Joxer, ‘fiduciary’. In fact Perkie once owned a pet daschund called ‘Fiduciary’. Alas, others chose to sneeringly call him a sausage dog and to shorten the longbodied dog’s name to a demeaning ‘Fido’. The dog it was that died – of mortification.

    La Mullally, meanwhile, treats us to an intellectually effervescent column which positively purrs with challenging ideas. The topic being the perennial one of New Year Rezzies.

    The first of which concerns ‘New political groupings etc……which have finally overtaken the 1916 Commemoration as the Most Boring Topic’.


    Perhaps La Mullally, being a Femmy (it rhymes with Jim Kemmy), has turned a blind cat’s eye to the bountiful harvest of poppies which the Free Southern Stateen has been blessed with in recent Times, in a year on year riot of resplendent red and black?

    Unionist time to replace, she seems to be obliquely suggesting, the poppies with the mommies, oops, mummies? (Perkies’ PC tends to be a little of the non-PC side of things, betimes).

    La Mullally cat’s second Rezzie focuses upon the Shinners: upon which she wishes simply, a vow of silence. So, whatever about the concept of a 32 county country being redundo the idea of a Section 31 county one is alive and,yes, purring.

    Her next Rezzie has to do with pingin-pinching RTE’s recent recruit to its ranks of wheelbarrowers home of 500 Ks from the culphoca/backpocket of Sean Citizen: Ray the Arse. The very man who mooned at Marty Mac and who has been suitably recompensed accordingly, in retrospect.

    La Mullally cat goes into pure Eartha Kitt mode here as she suggests that RTE give the Nation no less than it deserves: a TV talk show to oldfashioned halfmillionaire Ray whom she finds compulsive viewing. Compulsory Arse, so to speak.

    At this point, Perkie’s inner Jacques Costeau had to resurface, floundering and sinking as he was, in the deep-thinking profundities of La Mullally Cat’s column. It wasn’t that he hadn’t his scuba equipment to hand, just that he couldn’t recall where he’d last left his trusty horse-collar buoyancy compressor.

    That’s the worse of dwelling in Warbeck Towers, with its countless chambers and endless corridors. Not least when one is beset betimes by Senior Moments and Junior Longeurs. There are times, indeed, when Perkie envies the likes of Tooler the Thigh-slapper when he laments the lack of space in his two-up, two downer in the Calcutta of Dublin, Crumlin. Baile Atha Cliath’s very ownio barrio of barrios.

    As yet one can only speculate what The Unionist Times has in store with its 1916 Schmozzle series but nonetheless only the most doleful of worrywarts would suggest there will not be ample space devoted to those civilians, notably the cohort of ‘innocent passers by’ who were uninvited casualties of the fantasies of undemocratic fanatics.

    Brigadier K. Myers (‘late of this parish’ as TUT has it !) is always on hand to recite by heart at the drop of a hint the litany of lost lives from the ranks of the ODD (Ordinary Decent Dubs).

    Be quite certain there will be ample space for oodles of examples: all in the name of the b-word balance. Just as equilibrium is being maintained at all times and at all costs during the current commemoration of the Great Donkey Derby 14-18.

    Never does a day go by without the naming by TUT of civilians who (regretfully) died while being trampled underneath by Ireland’s participants in the GDD. Seven million civilians in all were slaughered in 14-18, 40 thou in France itself.

    Some indeed as a result of poison gas being (regretfully) released upon their unsuspecting selves by those ultimate in gas men , the Dublin Fusiliers and other Belgium-sympathizing bamboozeliers.

    Some years ago, one of Dublin’s iconic buildings and an emblematic feature of its skyline was demolished, summarily and without demur. One refers to the Gasometer. Perkie’s inner fusilier would give his right lung to have this (gulp) iconic edifice re-erected as a fitting tribute to his khaki-coloured heroes.

    Not least those who lost their lives at the Battle of Loos in 1915, giving rise to the rugga mantra of: use it or Loos. Alas, they used it, and still lost. Or, loosed, as the Dublin argot has it.

    This was the first occasion that the B.A. (including ‘us’ as TUT puts it) used poison gas and to say they did not cut the mustard was not only on account of the gas du jour being ‘chlorine’. Codenamed ‘Red Star’ the gas consisted of 140 tons arrayed in 5,000 cylinders. Alas, the attack was dependent upon a favourable wind to succeed.

    Winds being fickle, alas, the deadly gas, gifted for Gerry, either lingered in No Man’s Land (no, not a porn site for Les Lez) or was blown back in the unmasked faces of the B.A. (including ‘our boys’ as TUT puts it) causing the likes of Joxer and Whacker, those gas characters altogether from the Dublin Confusiliers, to croak in a frightful, frog-like exit.

    Given the code name ‘Red Star’ it would only be fitting if none other than Charlie Chanagan, he who is on record as claiming that the sight of the Easter Lily puts his nose put out of joint while making no such boast for the poppy, were to unveil the restored Gasometer.

    Specifically to those pair of democratic unknowns, Joxer and Whacker who lent their initials to the JAW bone of an Ass which is the central motif of the Great Donkey Derby, 14-18.

    • Jude Collins December 30, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

      You’re revving on all cylinders today, Perkie…Magnificent stuff. And did I read somewhere -TUT perchance?- that it was Charlie wot dun it – i.e., hewed the Stormont House Agreement out of the sheer cliff of republican obduracy? You can’t keep a good man down. Remind me to tell you about the time I was on telly with Charlie and the Primetime Blonde Bombshell…

  7. Perkin Warbeck December 30, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

    Could well have been in TUT – as well as in the Sunday Independent Cult (sic), Esteemed Blogmeister, where you read about Charlie Chanagan.

    Re. your encounter with same on Prime Time, I’m your Basset Hound: all ears.

    As CC himself is on record as saying: ‘Two ears for every one tongue’.

  8. Norma wilson December 30, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

    A woman’s daughter died in the states this week, a young woman! She had no medical insurance.
    My friend in Dublin just under went a triple heart operation in The Mater in Dublin they asked him for his papers ie insurance.
    Now why would I want to live in the South, why….. are you a load of hillbilly Irish nutters.
    I am IRISH I live in the BRITISH part of Ireland which is in the BRITISH Isles.
    I wonder if the oil keeps falling if the Scots will still feel the same. LOL
    I haven’t even mentioned the water charges.
    And Paddy Kool you couldn’t do me a huge favour give me the numbers for the BRITISH lottery tomorrow night,
    Norma. Bored stiff, in and in and on!

  9. sean December 31, 2014 at 2:41 am #

    Maybe with the same politeness as ‘sure let sleeping dogs lie’ we should be saying stuff like ‘sure unity is going to happen eventually it makes economic sense’ you know sneeky sneeky catchy monkey’

  10. RJC December 31, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    I often wonder if those who think that partition was a good idea could outline their reasons why.

  11. pretzellogic December 31, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    Well you could make a start by asking SF. And while you’re at it you could also ask them their reasons for wanting to repartition it after implementing the jurisdiction we presently have.