Michelle and Martin: a move each, while unionism watches

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Two Sinn Féin members of the Executive made the news yesterday. The new Health minister, Michelle O’Neill, announced the end of the ban on blood donation by gay men. The Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, visited the site of the Battle of the Somme and laid a wreath there.

Were both moves welcomed? Certainly not by their partners in the Executive, the DUP. Michelle O’Neill’s move may have been welcomed by gay men here, but the DUP’s Sammy Wilson chose to murmur about danger and the need to be sure there is a properly regulated system of blood donation. The fact that Michelle O’Neill said she took the decision on the basis of medical research and evidence didn’t seem to cut much ice with Sammy – or his DUP colleagues, judging from their silence. The fact is, Michelle O’Neill’s move on blood, while simply bringing this region into line with the rest of the UK, highlighted the fact that former unionist Health ministers had chosen to ignore or dispute accepted medical research on the topic. So Michelle got to do a good thing and at the same time score a point off the DUP. They may be partners in government bent on a Fresh Start, but that doesn’t mean Sinn Féin won’t happily snaffle up a score against unionist politicians.

Martin McGuinness’s wreath-laying at the Somme, whatever else it is, represents yet another effort by the Deputy First Minister to make gesture of reconciliation towards unionism. Will it be reciprocated in some way? Pretty unlikely. McGuinness made clear that he’d placed the wreath yesterday rather than on the anniversary of the battle, when the major commemoration ceremonies will take place, because some unionist leaders had said they wouldn’t attend if he were there.

In some ways I have sympathy with these hard-line unionist people. It must be galling to have a man who was prominent in the armed action against British forces here now to have a respected place at the heart of commemorating  a battle they revere – just as it must be galling to see Mr McGuinness the co-equal First Minister of Northern Ireland. On the other hand, do these rejectionists plan to have a future in which all old grudges and resentments are nursed and fed? Martin McGuinness would have his own feelings of resentment towards the British armed forces, starting with events such as Bloody Sunday in Derry, but he clearly has put these aside in order to show good will and flexibility on the part of republicans. In the end, McGuinness’s willingness to attend the Somme site and unionist refusal to attend Somme ceremonies if McGuinness were there, summarises the problem of creating a better future. Republicanism – or that branch of it represented by Sinn Féin – is clearly keen to melt past antagonism into present acceptance and even warm relations between unionism and republicanism. Unionism, in the form of its leaders, appears intent on hanging on to old resentments.

Will media reporting now emphasise this basic difference in approach by the two parties? Don’t hold your breath. The old one-is-as-bad-as-the-other requires so much less effort and besides, it lets you claim you’re objective and balanced.

One final point. More and more nationalists/republicans are getting fed up with gestures such as Mr McGuinness’s Somme wreath-laying, with no hint of movement on the opposite side. If this continues, Sinn Féin may be forced to present a rather more hard-knuckled attitude to unionism. Which might be welcomed by considerable numbers in the nationalist/republican community, but would be welcomed by even more unionist politicians. It’d mean things had got back to the more predictable black-and-white days. This ex-IRA-man-at-Somme-wreath-laying is very confusing.

 

 

66 Responses to Michelle and Martin: a move each, while unionism watches

  1. MT June 3, 2016 at 8:28 am #

    “Martin McGuinness’s wreath-laying at the Somme, whatever else it is, represents yet another effort by the Deputy First Minister to make gesture of reconciliation towards unionism.”

    I don’t see how laying a wreath at a war memorial should be seen as an act of reconciliation towards unionism. Unionism doesn’t own the war dead. Thousands of nationalists died too. Maybe more nationalists than unionists?

    Failure to do so in the past was no doubt hurtful to many and now that has been rectified but it shouldn’t be viewed through a unionist/nationalist prism.

    • Twinbrook Lad June 3, 2016 at 10:26 am #

      I don’t see how laying a wreath at a war memorial should be seen as an act of reconciliation towards unionism. Unionism doesn’t own the war dead. Thousands of nationalists died too. Maybe more nationalists than unionists?

      Are you for real MT? I agree wholeheartedly with your statement. But it is the simple fact that it was Martin McGuiness laying the wreath that is the issue here not the act. Do you at least recognise that? How does that make you feel?

      Unionism doesn’t own the war dead.
      Again, I completely agree, but why oh why is the Somme in particular of such reverence and touch at the very soul of unionism here. It was the propaganda machine that sold it at the time of the Home Rule crisis that continues to this very day. The story of a continuous line of brave UVF soldiers then AND NOW all fighting for monarch and country and to keep Ulster British?
      I do hope I have that understanding wrong and I respectfully await to be corrected, but from my point of view that’s how it always appeared to me.

      • MT June 3, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

        “Are you for real MT?”

        Yes. Are you?

        ” I agree wholeheartedly with your statement. But it is the simple fact that it was Martin McGuiness laying the wreath that is the issue here not the act. Do you at least recognise that?”

        Obviously.

        “How does that make you feel?”

        I suppose I’m pleased that he’s finally done the right thing but the fact that there have been so many years of disrespect to Ireland’s war dead in the past is saddening.

        “Again, I completely agree, but why oh why is the Somme in particular of such reverence and touch at the very soul of unionism here.”

        I guess because so many unionists took part and died.

        “It was the propaganda machine that sold it at the time of the Home Rule crisis that continues to this very day. The story of a continuous line of brave UVF soldiers then AND NOW all fighting for monarch and country and to keep Ulster British?
        I do hope I have that understanding wrong and I respectfully await to be corrected, but from my point of view that’s how it always appeared to me.”

        I’m afraid I don’t understand what you’re saying. If you’re trying to connect the Ulster Division to today’s terror gang known as the UVF, then shame on you.

        • jessica June 4, 2016 at 9:35 am #

          “Again, I completely agree, but why oh why is the Somme in particular of such reverence and touch at the very soul of unionism here.”

          I guess because so many unionists took part and died.

          The ulster 36th had 30% catholic / nationalist including my great grandfather who was a republican, same as the population of ulster at the time and according to qub statistics I posted in a previous talk on this with you.

          The ulster 36th was not all unionist and the majority of Irish men who fought in the war were Irish nationalists.

          “I’m afraid I don’t understand what you’re saying. If you’re trying to connect the Ulster Division to today’s terror gang known as the UVF, then shame on you.”

          I agree, as I said, my great grandfather was not even unionist and died in it.

          You should tell that to “today’s terror gang known as the UVF” who do most of the connecting though.

        • Twinbrook Lad June 4, 2016 at 10:34 am #

          MT. As Jessica referred it is the current band of UVF gangsters that make the connection. One only has to drive up the newtownards road to see that on display in the various murals. I did say I respectfully wait to be corrected and no connection to the brave men of both sides who did fight and die together was being made. That’s why I asked the question
          However, the theme of Jude’s blog was reconciliation and even if the mighty MT acknowledges the fact the Martin mcguiness has reached out with this act, albeit through gritted teeth, then that’s enough to satisfy me and the job of us all living together becomes one step closer

    • Ryan June 3, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

      “I don’t see how laying a wreath at a war memorial should be seen as an act of reconciliation towards unionism”

      We didn’t think you would MT, even though Jude already explained why it is an act of reconciliation in his article…..

      Unionists, more than most, only see and hear what they want to see and hear.

  2. Scott June 3, 2016 at 8:39 am #

    Michelle O’Neills and Martin Mcguiness were two good news stories.

    On the specifics of the gay blood 1 year deferral as I understand it means that a gay man would have to only had sex with one partner for a year before being eligible for giving blood. Does anyone know if this is correct because I’m struggling to find the details online.

    If this is the case how can this be right. So a gay man has only have one partner for a year, while a straight man can throw it about every weekend and can give blood whenever. Surely that’s not right.

    I know the minister is saying she’s following the evidence but it doesn’t stack up.

    • giordanobruno June 3, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

      Scott
      I understood it to be any male partners within a year.
      It does seem to be based on the belief that there is a higher risk factor and it can take some time for detection of HIV after infection.
      It is fair to say there is dispute about this restriction too, but it is in line with some other countries I think

      • Scott June 3, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

        But surely the blood screening system should be that it doesn’t matter if it’s a virgin or someone who on the pull in the Kremlin every night. The system should be able to screen all blood to remove the chances of spreading AIDS.

        • giordanobruno June 4, 2016 at 10:42 am #

          Scott
          That is true and may be one of the reasons that there is controversy around this.
          On the other hand if donors are self selecting it would reduce the number of tests required I suppose.

  3. BYC June 3, 2016 at 8:42 am #

    I don’t think Martin’s resentment against the British Army starts with Bloody Sunday Jude. He was already a senior member of the IRA at the stage.

    Michelle O’Neill said this morning that there was no objection to her move at the executive. She just presented the latest evidence from the rest of the UK and it was accepted. Sammy Wilson’s not in the executive and he’s not in the DUP leadership. Bringing him in is just the BBC trolling for reaction in a week where our news agenda’s been set by a Scottish reporter criticising the NI team’s suits. your tweet about the BB and now this.

    “More and more nationalists/republicans are getting fed up with gestures such as Mr McGuinness’s Somme wreath-laying, with no hint of movement on the opposite side”

    Any evidence for this Jude? The movement from SF and the SDLP in the last election was towards more anti-sectarian socialist or Green parties; not to any anti-agreement Republican Sinn Fein types.

    • Jude Collins June 3, 2016 at 10:04 am #

      You’re quite right – that struck me after i’d put it up, BYC. But I suppose it’s one of the major and best-known wounds inflicted on the nationalist community.

  4. James Hunter June 3, 2016 at 9:24 am #

    Great story jude

    • Jude Collins June 3, 2016 at 10:02 am #

      Grma. Jim.

      • Jack Black June 3, 2016 at 11:11 am #

        Best article I have read for some considerable time Jude.

  5. Michael June 3, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    Has the gay blood ban really been lifted??
    My understanding is that if a gay man has had sex in the previous year he can not give blood.
    Can a heterosexual man who has had sex in the previous year give blood??
    Basically if a gay man wants to donate blood he has to give up sex.

    • Jude Collins June 3, 2016 at 10:02 am #

      I wasn’t aware of that. Is that in fact the case? If so, either it’s discrimination or medical evidence is forcing her to one-year delay, I suspect.

  6. michael c June 3, 2016 at 9:57 am #

    As someone who is 100% SF, I still believe in the lines from “the foggy dew” – “had they died by Pearse’s side or fought with Cathal Brugha,then their names we would keep where the fenians sleep ,neath the shroud of the foggy dew”.Their deaths were a tragedy but they were’nt representing me “on Flanders field”.

  7. Beachguy June 3, 2016 at 10:11 am #

    It’s simple really.

    Scott, MT et al believe that the statelet of Northern Ireland has both de facto and de jure legitimacy whereas nationalists would only agree on the former.

    Unionists are currently in the majority but all indications are that this will end in the not too distant future when nationalists and republicans will assume control.

    Martin should be praised for his foresightedness since to act in the mean spirited ways of the unionists will only result in continuation of the ancient quarrel.

    He is simply showing everyone that there need be no fear of boorish or worse behavior on the part of nationalists when things change.

    • BYC June 3, 2016 at 10:51 am #

      “all indications are that this will end in the not too distant future when nationalists and republicans will assume control”

      Nope. All indications are that the relative increase in catholic baptism is coinciding with a fall in votes for nationalist designated politicians. Nationalists desperately counting baptismal certificates waiting for the magic 50%+1 haven’t got their heads round the level of inter-marriage in Northern Ireland.

      • BYC June 3, 2016 at 11:02 am #

        I’ll give you the numbers if you like.

        Non-designated parties at the 2011 Assembly elections (first preference)

        Alliance/Green/PBP/Worker’s/Socialists – 64,318

        Non-designated parties at the 2011 Assembly elections (first preference)

        Alliance/Green/PBP/Worker’s/CISTA/Labour Alt/Animal Welfare – 88,741

        That’s a 40% increase in the miscegenated middle of the road vote. Up from 1 in 11 to 1 in 8 voters not choosing either a nationalist or a unionist.

        • BYC June 3, 2016 at 11:09 am #

          The second one there should have read “2016 Assembly elections”!

    • Scott June 3, 2016 at 11:23 am #

      What evidence are you basing your assumption that unionism is going to be in the minority in the not too distant future Beachguy?

    • Croiteir June 3, 2016 at 11:31 am #

      No – Republicans/nationalists accept both the de facto and de jure existence of Northern Ireland after accepting the GFA. I do wish the nationalist people would accept this. The GFA is a worse betrayal of Irish nationalism than McMurrough pleading with the French king Henry or indeed the Act of Union in 1801.

      • Beachguy June 3, 2016 at 11:48 am #

        Well what was the demographic make up at the time of partition Scott? And if you create a graph I think you will notice that it has moved up substantially ever since.

        I assume this trend will continue.

        • Scott June 3, 2016 at 1:53 pm #

          Yes the number of Catholics may overtake Protestants if that’s what you mean by demographics. The fastest growing group however is non religious.

          Also your making a assumption that being Catholic or from that community equates to being a nationalist. Surveys and opinion polls I’ve read shows that amongst Catholics in the north 25% would vote to remain in the UK

          it’s way more complicated now. Than simply the “we’ll out breed them” that people seem to think will lead to a United Ireland.

          It’s a crude indicator since people vote on parties for more than just there position on Irish unity, but there was a fall of over 5% in the nationalist vote in the last assembly election.

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Ireland

          I believe Irish unity will only happen if people are convinced of it and peoples opinions change through debate.

          • jessica June 4, 2016 at 9:22 am #

            “I believe Irish unity will only happen if people are convinced of it and peoples opinions change through debate.”

            Why do you think unionism fears debate on this?

          • Scott June 4, 2016 at 10:15 am #

            I think all sides don’t really want this debate. SF, SDLP, FF, FG all claim to support Irish unity but it’s only lip service.

            Unionist don’t fear the debate Arlene Foster said regarding a border poll that SF should “be careful what they wish for” showing that she is confident that unionism would win a border poll.

            It’s not that anyone fears the debate but rather it’s not an active topic as it is no were near close to happening. Even nationalist politicians know that I think.

            I only hope that if there is a border poll the debate and campaign on it would be as cordial and civilised as the Scottish independence campaign.

            However at this moment I doubt it. It would probably simply cause bitterness and divisions an open up old wounds.

            The past is still to raw I think for it to be a cordial debate. Maybe in 20-30 years when the the troubles generation are gone it could happen

          • jessica June 4, 2016 at 10:44 am #

            “I think all sides don’t really want this debate. SF, SDLP, FF, FG all claim to support Irish unity but it’s only lip service.”

            I couldn’t agree more, and it is barely even lip service these days.
            It never was to the SDLP, Sinn Fein are the new SDLP and the PBP didn’t even declare as nationalist. So much for radical voices.

            “Unionist don’t fear the debate Arlene Foster said regarding a border poll that SF should “be careful what they wish for” showing that she is confident that unionism would win a border poll.”

            Then call her bluff and make it happen.

            “It’s not that anyone fears the debate but rather it’s not an active topic as it is no were near close to happening. Even nationalist politicians know that I think.”

            Why do you think the nationalist vote overall is going down and is the biggest change?
            Support for remaining in the UK do you think?
            Believe me, the vote will be lower next time again.

            “I only hope that if there is a border poll the debate and campaign on it would be as cordial and civilised as the Scottish independence campaign.
            However at this moment I doubt it. It would probably simply cause bitterness and divisions an open up old wounds.”

            So what incentive does that give to unionists to reciprocate in reconciliation?
            Just keep up the hatred and bigotry so the debate cant happen, is they what you are saying?

            And how do you think denying the debate will do to the current outreach from nationalism?
            I already don’t want reconciliation with unionism. I want nothing more to do with them and my frustration is growing.

            “The past is still to raw I think for it to be a cordial debate. Maybe in 20-30 years when the troubles generation are gone it could happen”

            Then tell the people, things are going to remain as they are for 20-30 years and let the people decide how to react, but I can tell you that is not acceptable to me.

            As I say, if that is the case, tell us so we can decide what we can and wish to do about it.

      • Beachguy June 3, 2016 at 11:58 am #

        Much truth in that. But deep down if the aspiration is reunification many republicans don’t intellectually buy into the de jure argument.

        It’s just another of those stepping stones envisioned by Mr . Collins.

    • MT June 3, 2016 at 1:14 pm #

      “Scott, MT et al believe that the statelet of Northern Ireland has both de facto and de jure legitimacy whereas nationalists would only agree on the former.”

      That’s interesting. On what basis do nationalists think NI doesn’t have de jure legitimacy?

      • jessica June 4, 2016 at 9:27 am #

        “That’s interesting. On what basis do nationalists think NI doesn’t have de jure legitimacy?”

        I think it has zero legitimacy.

        At the moment we have a peace accord which is the GFA. This was agreed by the people of Ireland to find a peaceful way to unity which will be implemented when there is consensus.

        To refuse to debate it and find out where consensus sits, it not legitimacy for NI to be a separate entity, it simply means we are in a status quo or limbo until the debate begins.

        Eventually, continued failure to stick to the terms of GFA will lead to a return of a position where physical force will once again become an option of last resort.

        Until this is properly debated and the people make a choice, there is no legitimacy for NI.

        Is that clear enough for you MT?

      • Beachguy June 4, 2016 at 9:36 am #

        Northern Ireland came about at the point of a gun.
        You’ll remember the Ulster Covenant, the UVF, the mutiny etc, etc ,etc..

        So while it can be argued that its status was confirmed in the GFA there are many who would still reasonably argue that it had an illegitimate birth as did the entire usurpation of the island by English force of arms hundreds of years before.

  8. BYC June 3, 2016 at 10:21 am #

    Question for you Jude.

    Peter Robinson was at the McKenna Cup final in 2012. So of course the press asked Gregory Campbell for his reaction as they wouldn’t want to diminish the DUPvGAA trope.

    Arlene Foster was at Christchurch in Dublin to mark the rising this year but the press had little or nothing to say about that. Plenty to say say about her non-attendance at military parades though. Other unionists were at other events – Glasnevin for example.

    Do you not notice these things or do you discount them as empty gestures? Is there an objective standard unionists can ever pass or will you be keeping the goalposts on wheels just in case?

    Martin left his wreath on his own terms, in his own time. When he met the Queen he arranged an informal handshake at the Lyric rather than attending any events at Hillsborough.

    Should unionists should be afforded the same leeway on their own “journey”?

    This is going to be a recurring problem with reconciliation. The more real interaction and reconciliation we have the more opportunities broadcasters and “media commentators” will have to showcase the objections of reactionaries, as if those objections are anything other than a vanishing minority’s, end-of-the-bell, crankery.

  9. Iolar June 3, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    Chess is a game of tactics. The success of long-term plans, may be sabotaged by immediate dangers. A strong mandate bolstered with the exclusive use of a petition of concern may consolidate the status quo, however, underlying problems remain like malignant cells in the body politic. Political choreography will make no impact on poverty or unemployment. Educational underachievement will continue to foster and maintain sectarian and racist tensions.

    It is right and fitting that individuals who lost their lives on various battlefields should be remembered with courtesy and respect. Perhaps it would do no harm to reflect on the role played by coal and steel producing cartels that created the conditions for war in the context of Ledwidge’s words from his poem, ‘June.’

    “Ay! soon the swallows will be flying south/The wind wheel north to gather in the snow/Even the roses spilt on youth’s red mouth/Will soon blow down the road all roses go.”

  10. truthrevisionist June 3, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    Jude,

    ‘More and more nationalists/republicans are getting fed up with gestures such as Mr McGuiness’s Somme wreath laying.’…………,

    and his champagne receptions with the queen

    and Sinn Feins’ participation in a British administration

    and the Justice Ministry being a ‘taig free’ zone

    and Sinn Feins’ ‘love in’ with the PSNI/RUC

    and Sinn Feins’ silence on current Irish Republican Internees

    and Sinn Feins’ promotion of gay marriage

    and Sinn Feins’ stance on abortion/MURDER

    and Sinn Feins’ duplicity on ‘Austerity’ North/South

    and Sinn Feins’ ‘Corporation tax’ give-away to their masters

    and Sinn Feins’ open borders policy on immigration

    and Sinn Feins’ pro -corporate/banker EU agenda…… etc. etc.

    I could go on.

    But mostly, its…

    ‘and Sinn Feins’ treachery’ throughout the conflict, – promoting war, causing thousands of needless deaths, whilst deceitfully seeking political power at any cost,- for personal wealth and ‘self aggrandisement’.

    Unfortunately history has taught us, that almost all ‘great republicans’ have eventually gone this way – except for the good ones – who usually paid the ultimate price at an early age, for their steadfastness and honour.

  11. paddykool June 3, 2016 at 11:37 am #

    You might ask what is the problem with the DUP mindset in that they should think that a gay man or woman’s blood should be any more infectuous than anyone else’s.Many people decide to donate a pint of their blood for the general good and no -one asks too many questions about their sex-life.Think of Sammy’s sex-life , for example …..well maybe stop that thought right there….! Does a “Sammy” know how many sexual partners of whatever sex his current partner might have had? Does he know whether or not they might be telling little fibs?Does he know if she or he have been in contact with someone carrying the HIV virus?…and come to that , would any of those partners tell him the whole truth anyway? HIV has no notion of a person’s sexuality.
    It’s a fact that we only know one version of reality at any one time. Let’s put it like this …all blood should be run through a series of tests, no matter the sexuality or promiscuous nature or otherwise , of the donor, so why pick on gay men? It’s more likely that a woman might have more partners than a man even though each sex might pretend otherwise.Women can contact HIV too remember…and some are likely to be bi-sexual as well.
    I used to give blood many years ago .I can’t now for the simple fact that over forty years ago i had hepatitis and my liver took a hit. I recovered fully and apparently I carry traces of the virus within my blood, just as a malaria sufferer might live with that. I’m not infectuous per se but I am not allowed to give blood .I’m not even sure whether it would show up in a test anyway.so is Sammy’s fear on facts or fictions and what does that say about him?

    • BYC June 3, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

      “You might ask what is the problem with the DUP mindset in that they should think that a gay man or woman’s blood should be any more infectious than anyone else’s”

      You might Paddy. Or you might note the existence of the same ban in the Republic of Ireland, the United States and Canada and ask whether this has to be yet another stick to beat each other with.

      Actually – now that the North has a slightly less discriminatory policy than the republic can we all start congratulating ourselves and wondering about the mindset of those backward southern Catholics?

      • paddykool June 3, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

        We can ByC..!

  12. Croiteir June 3, 2016 at 11:41 am #

    The retrograde step allowing males who have sex with males is a disaster. (As an aside I am amazed at Irish republicans so called saying that they want to align with the rest of the UK on this), Why do they not maintain balance with the rest of Ireland, Netherlands and many others in the rest of the world. I agree with the Irish blood transfusion service. Their policy is stated here.
    https://www.giveblood.ie/Become_a_Donor/Keeping_Blood_Safe/Safety/MSM.html

    Please note that we who lived during the BSE debacle are also not allowed to give blood in the south. That is due to the increased risk.

    The onus should be to reduce risk and with 17% of the population with HIV unaware of it is wise to maintain a lifetime ban on those who have had male to male sex.

    Some like to present this as a bias against homosexual men. It is not. There is no ban on homosexual men giving blood, there is a ban on those who have had male to male sex. It is not a ban based on orientation but on an action.

  13. Wolfe tone June 3, 2016 at 11:59 am #

    Jude, I am patiently waiting for evidence that ‘something is happening here’ that you recently commented a while back in reference to SF allowing unionist to take charge of the Justice ministry in stormont. If Michelle O’Neills decision is evidence of some sort concession from unionism then its farcical to say the least. I honestly thought there’d be agreement on the irish language act or the maze project but not a dickie bird as of yet. Alas all I can see is the same old same old.
    As for McGuinness? He doesn’t represent me but he will probably represent the wee future northernirelanderists he is fast creating. He would have been better paid laying a wreath at tom Barry’s grave; a man who joined the British army but quickly realised what side he was on when hostilities kicked off back at home. History will not be kind to McGuinness.
    I will remind you what my kids were taught at secondary school:’Martin McGuinness used to be bad now he is good’ sin é.

    • Ryan June 3, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

      Agree with you Wolf Tone.

      Martin McGuinness is heading for early retirement, in my opinion. I really do fail to see what all these gestures towards Unionism will achieve even if they are accepted and reciprocated (which they wont be).

      In many ways Martin McGuinness has turned his back on Irish Republicanism and is more content to pander to the anti-Catholics in the DUP/UUP. Yes, I understand he’s doing what Nelson Mandela did but what will it achieve?…..

  14. pjdorrian June 3, 2016 at 12:02 pm #

    Two points; first,It was noticeable that The Health Minister took action based on research and not just on a set belief. Contrast this to the DUP’s Education Minister who has said he will reinstate selection tests at 11 because he believes it is the best way to provide education to our young people. The word research was never mentioned.

    I suppose QUB, our university which is supposed to among the world’s best, must be a bit miffed. Their Education Department must be double miffed not to be asked to research the best means of providing the transition of young people from nursery to second level education. Given that the new edmin is a lawyer one would have expected him to base his judgement on evidence rather than untested belief.

    The second point; It seems a little odd that Unionists object to MMG joining in with the Centenary commemoration of the Somme. It was noticeable that the Radio Ulster lady who interrogated him on the first e med upset that he was going and also upset he was not going on 1st July. He was Afterall the leader of an organisation that killed British Soldiers. She did not, however, similarly interrogate representatives of the German Government that attended the Battle of Jutland commemoration. I can’t wait until 1st July when she will have the opportunity to ask the same question of the Germans Rep when they have personnel at the Somme. Holding breath .

  15. Croiteir June 3, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    The wreath laying at the British Army memorials is nothing more than the extension of the SF policy of appeasement. SF are now reconciling to the border and the unionist veto, and thus the legitimacy of partition. They are more or less in the same constitutional position as the SNP are as far as the legitimacy of the union is concerned.

    Now we know this is not a memorial for Irish soldiers who just had the misfortune of dying in the service of foreign armies. If it was we would see wreath laying at the memorial for the likes of Sarsfield who has a memorial in Belgium also, and indeed all those other wild geese who died in the service of Spain, France, Austria and Russia. But no, this is reserved solely for British soldiers.

    What is happening is the process of making nationalists accept the equivalence of Irish dying for Ireland or the empire. I can accept that there may be unity in death but not in the cause of the death.

    We also see this happening south of the border where the free staters in Fine Gael had British soldiers inscribed on a memorial wall in Glasnevin.

    As a nationalist I have no interest in British memorials or ceremony.

  16. Belfastdan June 3, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    Don’t expect any level of reciprocation form Unionists. The latest action in withholding funding from Glenariff community centre over the names on a gate of 2 IRA men who died in 1922 is just the latest manifestation of the bigotry and petty mindedness that is their stock in trade.

    SF can make all the grand gestures it likes but it will not wash with the unionists and at the same time irritates the likes of me who elected them to represent our interests and aspirations.

    • BYC June 3, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

      So according to the Coleraine Times the funding was approved by the council with the support of the UUP, Alliance and the council’s Conservative member. It was opposed by the DUP because the entire park (not just the gates) is named for two IRA men who were killed while they were trying to kill policemen. The DUP claim that’s in line with council policy that public funds should be spent on shared spaces and they’ve triggered an independent legal review. Hardly the wildest show of bigotry and even if it was, you’re telling us not to “expect any level of reciprocation from Unionists” when enough unionists already voted for the funding for it to pass. Or is that not the right kind of reciprocation?

    • jessica June 3, 2016 at 3:31 pm #

      I agree BD, sooner or later the kid gloves will have to come off and a serious bloody nose reciprocated onto unionism.

    • Ryan June 3, 2016 at 4:44 pm #

      Very true Belfastdan.

      As commentator Chris Donnelly said about the DUP/UUP majority in the local council in reference to Glenariff community centre “They are using their majority to discriminate against the minority Catholic Community, its a disgrace”. He’s 100% correct. And all this talk about “democratizing Stormont”, its a recipe for disaster, we’d be back in 1969 within a week, the key difference being there will be a Catholic majority this time.

      Unionists cant and wont change. Therefore we should just end all this nonsense and bring in Joint Rule between Dublin and Stormont or London.

  17. Jud June 3, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    I’m sure the irony would be lost on Sammy, but if he were here in Canada he’d be treated the same as the gay men he so fears.

    After I moved here I gave blood regularly, but after the BSE scare Canada banned donations from anyone who ‘Spent a cumulative total of three months or more in the United Kingdom (UK) between January 1980 and December 31, 1996’

    I explained I’m an Irish citizen (Ireland is not on the list) but to no avail.
    Three months in the six counties (in all likelihood consuming the same beef as someone in Monaghan) gets you banned – pretty much the same as our gay community here in Canada.

  18. Perkin Warbeck June 3, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

    Not sure about the media in Norneverland, Esteemed Blogmeister, but down here in the Free Southern Stateen the plague only applies to one of the two houses , the one with the sidewalk outside painted green, white and a yellowish orange.

    That’s because , the Gin-and-Bubonic sippers in Shoneenia, see the plague as being caused by exposure to the carcass of one kind of dead infected animal, and one animal only. That would be the holy cow of Hibernian mythology.

    That’s also why the visit of Martin McGuinness to the Somme got the cold shoulder in the hot-house homogenized media on Liffeyside. Doesn’t quite fit the agreed knorritive of the souper stars South of the Black Sow’a Dyke.

    There is, of course, as always, a certain irony at play here.

    Best evidenced by contrasting the treatment meted out to two men born in Ireland to English fathers, one of whom was central to the hideous blasphemy of the Easter Rising, the other to the sacramental and selfless sacrifice of the Somme; a Dub and a Kerryman respectively, Padraig Pearse and Horatio Kitchener.

    Now while the, erm, kitchen sink (porcelain, durable) has been thrown at the former over the past few months, so far , not even a teaspoon (plastic, breakable) has been waved at the latter.

    In the case of Pearse, of course, this was on account of his having shown an inordinately unhealthy curiosity in puttee-clad platoons and gorsoons alike.

    Hmmmm.

    One could have sworn the Kerry-born Kitchener shared the very identical interests, but on an industrial strength level. As no doubt a globally-acclaimed hysterian, oops, historian such as Truthful Ruth of the Edwardian Duds would readily testify, chapter and verse, bell, book and candle.

    Now the influence of the kitchy cover of his record-breaking album – ‘Your Country Needs YOU !’ – which was the best selling album of all time in the musical genre known as ‘Finger-pointing Funk’ – can be traced even down unto the emblematic album cover of the Sergeant Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band.

    Less, perhaps, is known about Horatio Herbert’s s hankering after hairless little shavers.

    Consider the following:

    In 1892, as British Agent and Consul-General in Egypt he gathered around him a cadre of eager young and unmarried officers known as ‘Kitchener’s band of boys’..

    Patrick Barkham, a contemporary journalist, observed that Kitchener ‘ had the failings acquired by most of the Egyptian offices, a taste for b-gg-ry’. He also took a good deal of interest in the Boy Scout Movement and decorated his rose-garden with four pairs of sculpted bronze boys.

    He also avoided ‘all interviews with women’. (Mind you, if these were the contemporary equivalents of, say, Yawnya Lawlor, Mimsy O’Call-again and Dame Dosh Finucane a-pestering him for an interview , this avoidance would hardly classify as a deed deserving of the doghouse, in fairness, going backwards).

    When Field-Marshal Kitchener was home in Blighty and on his close-season tour of the grand, aristocratic house circuit ‘the well informed young would ask their servants to sleep across the bedroom threshold to impede his entrance’.

    It would be appear that his legendary ‘walking-out finger’ was somehow, somewhat less enticing at close quarters, as distinct from wall posters.

    The reason why the Gin-and-Bubonic sippers of Shoneenia (see above) have thus far kept a, erm, Trappist-like silence on the extra-curricular pursuits of The K, is on the fair and reasonable grounds that there is no evidence (not even the slightest shred of) that Ballylongford’s finest was either of those market cornerers: a Christian Bother or a RC priest.

    There was a legendary calypsonian from Trinidad also called Lord Kitchener (no relation) who had a major hit in 1958 called, erm, ‘Sugar Bum Bum’ (irrelevant).

    Born in Ballylongford, The Kitchener , by one of those quirks of fate, shared a native village with The O’Rahilly, the misguided chap who got caught up in the terrorist skirmish of Easter 1916, And not only that, but boats were later to play a crucial role in both their stories.

    In the case of The K, he was prematurely dispatched to the locker of D.Jones, Esq. when, in 1916, the HMS Hampshire was mined by a sneaky German U-boat off the Orkney Islands. It the case of The O’R it was his grandson, Ronan O’Rahilly who was at the helm of the MV Caroline when the first pirate wireless station, Radio Caroline was launched in 1964.

    Which latter nautical fact, by a commodious vicus of recirculation, brings one back to where one came in: the Shinners and their incapability (utter) of doing anything right in the rheumy eyes of RTE and other outposts of latter day Redmondism.

    They point the (gulp) finger at the current Leadership of that party and sternly declaim that no good can come of the Shinners till a top-down cull is carried out. (It hurts them more than any Shinner to say it). After that, a new era of hunky-dorism will be ushered in by The New Boss.

    Eh?

    When Radio Caroline fist raised the Jolly Roger a jolly doll from the Bronx was on a crest of the pop music wave. Her name was Eydie Gorme and her hunky-dory hit song was:

    -Blame it on the Bossa Nova.

    What with the superabundance of Eydie and Eddie Gormlesses in the homogenized media on Liffeyside who is bold enough to bet against that becoming a retro hit once the Bearded One opts to ebb.

    -Was it the moon?
    no, no, the Bossa Nova
    -Was it the stars,?
    no, no, the Bossa Nova.

  19. Sherdy June 3, 2016 at 3:36 pm #

    Martin McGuinness and Sinn Fein gestures of goodwill and reconciliation seem to have been running at one a month for the past almost 20 years, which comes to quite a total.
    And how many reciprocations have there been from the different brands of unionism?
    Answer – zero!
    As you have previously quoted, Jude, the definition of madness is repeating an action while hoping for a different outcome – on that basis Marty and SF are due to be certified anytime.
    McGuinness gets an invite to the Somme commemorations, but some loyalist former soldiers, say: ‘If he’s going, we’re not’! So Marty decides not to go lest it would upset some of these bigots.
    Marty seems content to still take his allotted place at the back of the bus!

  20. Ryan June 3, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

    It’s a very dangerous game that Unionism is playing. They are clearly rejecting reconciliation and therefore peace. This isn’t just limited to Sinn Fein, its against the SDLP too, or as they would say “moderate nationalists”. Remember Arlenes comments on rogue Nationalist ministers? remember the Unionist rejection of an SDLP Justice Minister? Unionism long rejected power sharing with Catholics, and the issue is Catholics with them, by quoting IRA actions but this went on long before the troubles even started and goes back literally centuries (of course political Unionism was joined at the hip during the troubles with the UDA). Now they are in power sharing simply because they have to be, the alternative is Irish Unity and money they are being paid vanishing (and money IS keeping the peace here, its a bought peace). As Edwin Poots said to Alex Maskey “We hold our noses around you”, he’s basically saying that to the entire Catholic community.

    I cant see where all this is going to end up. The current status quo cant and wont go on forever. Sinn Fein needs to be very careful, and Unionists too, because if more Republican support is lost to dissidents (and they are gaining support) then expect things to go backwards. The SDLP is verging on non existence and I don’t believe PBP will be anything more than a protest party, it certainly doesn’t represent Irish Republicanism.

    Northern Ireland is an unworkable failure, don’t be surprised when it simply doesn’t work. Yet more quality jobs lost this week, more than a 100. But yet Amazon in the South just revealed they are creating 500 quality jobs, with a view to creating more in the near future. The South’s economic growth will be 7% this year whilst the North’s will be lucky to reach 1%……..

  21. ANOTHER JUDE June 3, 2016 at 4:59 pm #

    Sinn Féin are a progressive party while unionism is regressive. They are at totally opposite ends of the political spectrum, personally I am all in favour of reaching out but it can get a little irritating when unionists refuse to reciprocate these gestures. Maybe the next generation will be a little less supremacist and realise they are no better or no worse than the rest of us.

  22. MT June 4, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

    The onus for reconciliation is on ‘republicans’ more so than unionists. They were the ones bombing and murdering.

    • jessica June 4, 2016 at 6:58 pm #

      “The onus for reconciliation is on ‘republicans’ more so than unionists. They were the ones bombing and murdering.”

      And you would be entitled to that opinion.

      Just as I am entitled to see unionists as bigots wit no interest in sharing this land and that I want nothing to do with them. Build peace walls higher if it will keep my children away from such negative attitudes.

      You are not my people and never will be.

      • Beachguy June 5, 2016 at 7:59 am #

        Jessica – if your name wasn’t at the top I might think that last post came from MT, Scott, Glenn or some of the others , with just a few substitution of words of course. If everyone has that attitude it’s a hopeless cause.
        There’s a lot of bitterness in NI to be overcome.

        • jessica June 5, 2016 at 8:39 am #

          “There’s a lot of bitterness in NI to be overcome.”

          Yes, there is BG and the resentment is growing.
          That is why only one sides political leaders making any effort simply wont work.

          It takes both sides to commit to reconciliation or it will lead to a form of despotism and I don’t mean unionism taking the lead.
          Their days are numbered

        • jessica June 5, 2016 at 8:56 am #

          “Jessica – if your name wasn’t at the top I might think that last post came from MT, Scott, Glenn or some of the others , ”

          Could just point out that Scott is a young person and while he is a unionist, I find him to be totally reasonable.
          He does not harbour the same bitterness that I and older generation members struggle with and gives me hope for the future.

          Bitterness is every bit just as strong on the nationalist side. Just because we are less vocal about it doesn’t mean it is not there.

          Unionism portray the troubles as nationalist terror campaign, when they started it and did as much to enflame it.

          Sinn Feins reach out may help put a lid on some of the bitterness within the younger unionist population, but the unionist response while it serves them in the short term electorally, is shaking up the bottle on the nationalist side and sooner or later the lid will pop.

    • Garoid June 4, 2016 at 11:07 pm #

      I think you need to take a refresher course in history concerning the north of Ireland in light of your failure to recognize political unionism’s involvement in creating the conditions which led to the outbreak of violence which blighted the region for over 30 years. The links which they established with loyalist terror groups is well documented and even their involvement in setting them up e.g. Ulster Resistance in the 1980’s. Peter Robinson, the Dear Leader no.2 of the DUP called the UDA “counter-terrorists” despite their squalid murder campaign against innocent Catholics. I could go on in this vein but i doubt if it would remove your biased, blind, deaf and dumb approach which you have cultivated just like the 3 proverbial monkeys.

      • MT June 5, 2016 at 9:04 am #

        “I think you need to take a refresher course in history concerning the north of Ireland in light of your failure to recognize political unionism’s involvement in creating the conditions which led to the outbreak of violence which blighted the region for over 30 years.”

        I don’t need to take a refresher course in history. I suspect my knowledge and understanding is greater than yours.

        The fact that you attempt to equate ‘creating conditions which [sic] led to the outbreak of violence’ with actually running a terrorist campaign only serves to support my point.

        • Garoid June 5, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

          Unionist politicians were instrumental in forming their own terror groups as well as creating conditions which made violence possible. The formation of the Protestant Volunteer Force by Ian Paisley which got involved in bombings during the late sixties is clear evidence of this. There was plenty of cross-over between this organization and the UVF as many members of the latter were involved in the former and vice-versa. Speed the timeline up to the mid-eighties and you have the Ulster Resistance who with the UVF and UDA received a huge shipment of arms from the Lebanon during that period which were used to kill hundreds of people, mainly innocent Catholics. So your “point” has been truly cancelled out. Politicians who belong to so called constitutional parties with such a history as I’ve described, do not have any moral grounds to stand on what it comes to lecturing others.

          • Garoid June 5, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

            * “Protestant Volunteer Force” should have read “Ulster Protestant Volunteers”

  23. Glenn June 4, 2016 at 11:06 pm #

    As I see it McGuinness was riding around on Adam’s “Trojan horse”, as he went around the first world war battlefields of Belgium and France. Us “bastards” can see a Sinn Fein/IRA propaganda opportunity when we see it.

    McGuinness’ act’s are meaningless unless it is backed up with genuine atonement for Sinn Fein/IRA actions from then until now. Republicans want the British to open up their files yet Sinn Fein/IRA refuse to reciprocate. When McGuinness had an opportunity to send a meaningful message that he and Sinn Fein/IRA were genuine in reconciliation. He buckled and hid behind the Sinn Fein/IRA green book. As did those in Sinn Fein/IRA in the south when involved with the Smithwick tribunal.

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2014/01/22/smithwick-debate-it-calls-into-question-sinn-feins-professed-commitment-to-open-and-transparent-truth-telling/

    As for the blood thing that was an asinine policy from the DUP, as blood is shipped around the UK based on need. So the shinners/provos have a scored a minor point against the DUP with the LGBT community. It’s Hardly likely to win many votes and it took the decision out of the DUP’s hands. Therefore further alienating those within the conservative Roman Catholic community and Sinn Fein/IRA. And if there is a case of someone contracting HIV through the transfusion system, who is going to take the flack Michelle, not the DUP.

    A nice bit of work by the DUP, don’t you think.

    • jessica June 5, 2016 at 7:01 am #

      “A nice bit of work by the DUP, don’t you think.”

      Definitely Glenn, the DUP have outplayed Sinn Fein completely.

      The problem is, I am sick of all the games and want a proper country I am proud to call my own.

      The conflict was started by unionism for sectarian reasons, they were allowed to do so by the British state who could have done more to stop it starting and the ira were the most brutal combatant in that conflict but not the only brutal combatant.

      The blame game needs to end and reconciliation cannot begin until unionism acknowledges its role.

    • Garoid June 5, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

      Reconciliation is in reality a two-way street and the unionists need to need to come up to the plate when it comes to atonement for their past actions as Jessica as so eruditely stated during her various postings.