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Messages - Eamonnca1

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1
General discussion / Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« on: April 09, 2021, 01:10:26 AM »
Interesting post. A number of points:

1 - There are nuances within nationalism, just as there are nuances within unionism. How many protestant religious denominations are there? How many loyalist paramilitary groupings are there? How many unionist parties are there? How many fraternal marching organizations are there? In all cases, it's a lot more than one!
Of course there are.

But just about the only thing which unites "Unionists" is that they all identify as British, in one way or another. (The clue is in the name)

Meaning that whatever their other differences, I firmly believe that they would all coalesce around a simple "No" (a favoured word  ;)) if asked whether they want to be in a UI.
Well the same would happen for nationalism, that's what happens in a referrendum.

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2 - Supposed nationalist ambivalence about the constitutional position is not something unionism should take for granted. Yes, there are many nationalists who are kinda content with with the constitutional arrangement, but the almost daily rantings of Jim Allister on Nolan, continued hostility to even any mild expression of the island's indigenous culture, and the annual marching season, are pretty effective at keeping nationalists reminded that at the end of the day, the state was not set up with them in mind and that reunification of the island remains the ultimate goal. If unionism wants nationalism to become more comfortable with the union, the great service they get from the NHS is all well and good, but they might want to think about dialing the bigotry down a few notches.
True.

But just as eg Jim Allister et al fire up Nationalists, so does eg Gerry Kelly fire up Unionists. Meaning that if the dial got turned up to 11 in any pre-Referendum campaign, as it surely would, then Unionists will all turn out to vote "No" (there's that word again!).

And as Prof. O'Leary prophesised, there aren't enough Nationalists currently in NI to make a majority, at least as things stand.
I agree that unionists have not cornered the market on winding up the other side.

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3 - I've heard this "bloodless genocide" claim about southern protestants before, but anyone who has actually looked into the "plight" of southern protestants has found them doing pretty well. They're over-represented in higher paying professions, for one thing. The proportion of protestants living in the free state has decreased, but I very much doubt that it's because of anything sinister. As the census shows, the proportion of protestants living in the north has also been in a steady decline, but a lot of that is down to historically higher fertility rates among nationalists (leveling off now that they're becoming more affluent) and an increase in the number of 'others' living in the place. Also, of the people from NI who go to places like England for university, nationalists are more likely to come back than unionists.
Such Southern Protestants as remain in ROI are doubtless doing well - isn't that why they remained? But it's the ones who didn't stay, because they saw nothing down for them, who bear most heavily on Unionist thinking.

And in any case, a few thousand CofI types in cushy parts of Dublin or Cork these days have no resonance with eg your average working class NI Prod in East Belfast.
The ones that remained simply got outnumbered by a faster-growing catholic population. And let's not forget, a new state had popped into existence just up the road in which protestants could get first dibs on jobs and public housing. That's quite an incentive to leave the south for working class prods, wouldn't you say? That said, I have my doubts that there was a biblical mass exodus.

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4 - SF topping the poll in DŠil elections? I wouldn't worry too much about that. The days are gone when free-state parties of any stripe would win an outright majority. SF are still too toxic for most potential coalition partners. Yes it's hypocritical of FF/FG to support power-sharing in the north while refusing to consider SF to be fit for government in the south, but there it is. If anything, a million northern prods would be the perfect counter-balance to any potential domination of SF over politics in a reunified Ireland. A million northern prods would also have a lot more influence in an all-Ireland parliament than they have at Westminster, that's for sure.

SF don't have to actually form the government, or even hold the balance of power. The thought that they might some day is quite enough for even the most moderate Unionist to back away. Rapidly.

While Unionists aren't interested in holding the balance in the DŠil and not just because it would be neither guaranteed or for ever - we're not interested in the DŠil full stop.

In truth, Nationalists who have warm feelings for a UI and Irishness etc, need to realise that Unionists have no such warm feelings, even if it would leave them materially better off.

And if that's hard to take in, just ask yourself this: "Could I ever imagine harbouring my own warm, fuzzy feelings for the UK and Britishness etc?"

Absolutely not, for the same reasons that you cite for why it's so hard to convert a unionist into a nationalist. This is about identity politics. People vote on this issue based on emotions and feelings, not on facts about GDP per capita. This is why I've always said that the Irish identity has to be more accessible and less threatening to northern Protestants, which is why I'm one of the people who supports reform on such issues as flag protocols and club naming conventions in the GAA. Get the prods playing hurling first, never mind a border poll.

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5 - You are correct that it's in the best interests of nationalists to make NI work through better governance, but I think the SDLP are better equipped to deliver on that than SF. Thankfully they have a say in the matter thanks to the power-sharing arrangement, so we'll see how that plays out.

The SDLP is a busted flush and has been since the days of Hume and Mallon etc.

There is no sign of a major revival that I can see, at least, while I doubt many Unionists give them too much thought either way.
Colum Eastwood and Nicola Mallon have good potential. They're competent people, but they're struggling to make their voices heard in the current environment. Hume and Mallon were like saints compared to Adams and McGuinness when the provos were in full flight, and since the majority of nationalists have always opposed violence (contrary to the popular belief among unionists) the SDLP were strong during the Troubles. Take the provos out of action and SF are now a lot more respectable. That makes the SDLP's job harder, but occasional gaffes like the Storey funeral are helpful to them.

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6 - I agree that banging on about a border poll is a bit premature. A border poll strikes me as being far down the list of things that need to happen between now and reunification. Per point 5, the economy of the north needs to be restructured so that it gets off what I call the "begging bowl economics" business model and becomes more self sufficient. And yes, that might undermine nationalist sense of urgency for a united Ireland were it to happen, but that would be countered by the constant stream of unionist bigotry in point 2 above.
If you are saying that talk of a border poll needs to be "parked" while other matters are sorted, then that suits Unionists just fine. (Why wouldn't it?)
Yes. It suits unionists, and it also suits nationalists in that it would give them space to build their case. (I was listening to a lecture by Sean Farren today about the zero-sum thinking that infects political thinking in NI, BTW.)

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But you need to have a word with your fellow Nationalists to agree to it first.
Believe me, I've been trying! If your boys would tone the rhetoric down a bit it would help me to get my message through!

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Good Luck with  that!  ;)
Thanks.

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General discussion / Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« on: April 09, 2021, 12:56:08 AM »
So we seem to be in agreement about a few things. Unionism is undermined by the extremists in unionism who help to motivate nationalists to push harder for a UI.

Nationalism is undermined by SF who wind unionists up by ... being SF, and dealing with the baggage they have.

There was an interesting call to LBC today, I think, from a young fella talking about the Bobby Story funeral. They were saying that if your neighbour across the street broke some Covid regulations and got away with it, you'd be a bit pissed off but not enough to start a riot. However what poisons things in NI is the idea that "themmuns got away with it." It's the depth of the divisions that drives people to make mountains out of what would be considered molehills in any other country.

Bilingual signage? Already exists in Scotland, Wales and Cornwall and nobody seems to pass any remarks. Try to get it established in NI? "Nope, that'd be a win for the fenians. We have to block it, or if we can't then sure we'll make up some sort of language of our own (we could try basing it on the Ballymena accent, hey) to divert some of the funding from Irish."

Official events to commemorate WWI? Easy enough to do in Britain. In NI? Forget about getting cross-party support for it. "We will not tolerate tributes to the British army after what they did to our country! Grrr!"

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General discussion / Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« on: April 09, 2021, 12:41:48 AM »
Yours is a confidence not often displayed by political unionism and itís certainly not evident from what we hear from media journalists on the airwaves and in written publications like the Newsletter and Belfast Telegrsph.

All we ever seem to hear is constant negativity and a distillation of fear. Listening to Jim Allister, Jamie Bryson & others ramping up the rhetoric about how the Protocol had placed us in a waiting room for a United Ireland. Even Gregory Campbell stated that he thought a border poll was coming at some point on Claire Byrne live 2 weeks ago.

Iím just interested to know if more moderate voices within unionism like yourself who may get drowned out, are much more comfortable about the prospect of a border poll and their place within the union. If people of your ilk could get their voice heard perhaps your people would be better served rather than seeing every little compromise as some sort of defeat. If that was the case we might not be witnessing the disgraceful scenes weíve witnessed on the streets over the last week. Unionism does a very poor job at selling everything as a defeat to its own people and as a result appears to be constantly put on the defensive.

A fair summary of unionism donít you think EG.  unionism has a reasonable argument, but the antagonism, lack of generosity and anti-Irishness, means that you have few allies and little influence outside your own community.

I would suggest that unionism's argument would be a lot more reasonable if it didn't give off the odor of spite and sectarian supremacy in every move it makes. As an ideology it belongs in the same family of political ideas as South African apartheid, the American confederacy, and Israeli abuse of the Palestinians.

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General discussion / Re: The SDLP
« on: April 09, 2021, 12:38:39 AM »
Really impressed with how the SDLP have gone about their business lately. O'Toole, Mallon et all have been clear and very effective in their messaging. Easily the best performing political party when it comes to current issues in the North.

Future leadership material in Mallon, maybe? She's playing a blinder as infrastructure minister, although in fairness it's one of the easier jobs where you get to cut ribbons on big projects. But she still has a good progressive vision in terms of rebalancing east/west of the Bann, and prioritising green projects like rail restoration.

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General discussion / Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« on: April 09, 2021, 12:34:26 AM »
Yours is a confidence not often displayed by political unionism and itís certainly not evident from what we hear from media journalists on the airwaves and in written publications like the Newsletter and Belfast Telegrsph.

All we ever seem to hear is constant negativity and a distillation of fear. Listening to Jim Allister, Jamie Bryson & others ramping up the rhetoric about how the Protocol had placed us in a waiting room for a United Ireland. Even Gregory Campbell stated that he thought a border poll was coming at some point on Claire Byrne live 2 weeks ago.

Iím just interested to know if more moderate voices within unionism like yourself who may get drowned out, are much more comfortable about the prospect of a border poll and their place within the union. If people of your ilk could get their voice heard perhaps your people would be better served rather than seeing every little compromise as some sort of defeat. If that was the case we might not be witnessing the disgraceful scenes weíve witnessed on the streets over the last week. Unionism does a very poor job at selling everything as a defeat to its own people and as a result appears to be constantly put on the defensive.

I remember reading the minutes of a Craigavon Borough Council meeting in the 1990s when they were giving off about being forced to open leisure centres on a Sunday. Some gulpin unionist councilor (I think it was Ruth Allen) said "It'll turn our British style Sunday into an Irish style Sunday!* It's another step down the road to a united Ireland!"

* I'm not sure if they even have the same kind of municipal leisure centres in the south, and I'm quite sure municipal leisures centres in Britain were open of a Sunday back then. There are multiple levels on which you could get a good laugh at thon.

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General discussion / Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« on: April 09, 2021, 12:23:55 AM »


In other words, Nationalists have done fcuk-all but talk about/plan for a UI for the last 100 years, the problem being that they've been talking amongst themselves (alone  ;)), with nothing conciliatory or persuasive to say to Unionism.

People like John Hume and Gerry Adams said plenty in the way of conciliation to unionism over the years. It's hardly their fault if unionists can't hear it.  Latest example: The Claire Byrne show.

Leo varadkar: Any united Ireland will have to respect the British identity of the unionists.

Mary Lou McDonald: Any united Ireland will have to respect the British identity of the unionists.

MicheŠl Martin: Any united Ireland will have to respect the British identity of the unionists.

Gregory Campbell: "Haha ha! You just don't get it, do you?! We're British!"

There are none so deaf as those who will not hear.

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Your odds with the vaccine are better than your odds with Covid.

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General discussion / Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« on: April 07, 2021, 06:38:29 PM »
Things that may undermine the nationalist sense of urgency for reunification:

  • Continued peace (we kinda have it, but it seems to be fraying coz Brexit. Thanks, DUP!)
  • An improved economic outlook in the north (Things are getting better, but NI remains a begging-bowl state)
  • The Irish identity given the respect it's due (we have it in theory in some places)

Things that bolster the nationalist sense of urgency for reunification:

  • The Nolan/Allister show
  • The annual marching season
  • Unionist hostility to every attempt to express Irish culture, no matter how small
  • Unionist reluctance to respect the outcome of elections where nationalists win
  • Unionism's knee-jerk and spiteful reaction of rejecting everything nationalism asks for, even when it would benefit everyone (A5 dual carriageway, location of Ulster University facilities in Derry, replacing the worn out Coleraine-Derry railway track, etc.)
  • The inability of the state's institutions to reflect the Irish identity (Blanket BBC coverage of Irish League soccer matches attended by two men and a dog, while ignoring or under-reporting far bigger crowds at GAA club matches, to say nothing of the massive crowds at inter-county matches)

So yes, there is a paradox that if nationalists make the NI state work better, it might undermine their own cause, but unionism is plenty good enough at undermining its own cause and reminding nationalists that the NI state was founded as a comfort zone for bigots, and it continues to serve this function with indecent efficiency.

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General discussion / Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« on: April 07, 2021, 06:25:59 PM »
Anyhow, I'm taking a break now.

I might be tempted to come back sometime soon, but probably only if someone actually addresses head-on the Paradox which I've posited - sometime in another 100 years would be nice  ;)

(The rest of the usual stuff should be redirected to the assorted other "Themmuns and Whataboutery" threads elsewhere)

See point 6 in my previous post. I'd be happy to talk about it some more.

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General discussion / Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« on: April 07, 2021, 06:24:28 PM »
Another thing about opinion polls - you acknowledge that the result can depend on the wording of the question. The Belfast Telegraph has done plenty of push-polling in its time. I remember them asking "would you support a UI if it meant your tax bill going up?" but conveniently neglected to say what any supposed tax hike would be used to fund. They have ballot measures here in California where voters get to choose on specific taxes, but they're always accompanied by the information about what the funds are going to be used for along with arguments for and against.

Polls like those put out by the Tele are engineered to produce a pro-union result, and are best taken with a pinch of salt.

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General discussion / Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« on: April 07, 2021, 06:20:25 PM »
Reading through some of the other threads on here (SF gone away, Voting in Border Poll, SDLP, Leo V etc), I am reminded of the witty aphorism usually attributed to Brendan Behan, that whenever Nationalists meet, the first item on the Agenda is always "The Split"  :D

But for all the amusement to be derived from seeing 40 Shades of Green cutting stripes out of each other, what is more pertinent is that not one of you seem to get the point, which is this.

Frankly, it doesn't matter one jot how many times eg SF demand a Border Poll; or some Southern politician announces a 'road map' to Unification; or how detached Westminster is from NI; or how much pressure comes from Washington or Brussels (or anywhere else, for that matter).

For since the GFA, the Constitutional future of NI is solely in the hands of the people of NI and no-one else. Further, it is only a majority who will ever decide, whether to stay within the UK, or join a UI. All else is bluster and flannel.

And for the people to be entitled to a Referendum, then it will require the SoS for NI to be of the opinion that there may exist a majority for Unity amongst the electorate.

Which means he/she has to look first to how that electorate might vote. Basically speaking, there are two pointers.

The first is to look at voting patterns in recent elections. And as eminent psephologist Prof. Brendan O'Leary pointed out at a SF Fund Raising event in NYC no less(!) a while back, ever since the turn of the century, the "Nationalist" vote in NI, as measured by SF, SDLP and various minor parties, has plateaued at around 42-43%. Moreover, O'Leary opined that he couldn't see that changing in the foreseeable future.

Now it is fair to say that the "Unionist" vote (DUP, UUP, TUV etc) is not any higher. But if Nationalism is to get over the line, it has to muster the bulk of the "Others" (Alliance, Greens, Independents etc) to their cause. Yet if you look at their votes, they are overwhelmingly drawn from Unionist-leaning areas (East Belfast, North Down etc). Therefore in the event of a Referendum, one might expect those of them who did bother to vote, to be Unionist.

Of course, that whole  vote-counting exercise is arguably a misleading one, for a number of reasons. First, people vote in elections (esp local) for individual candidates for a variety of reasons - the candidate may have a personal following; there may be a local issue which skews the vote; custom and habit; or tactical considerations ("keep Themmuns out"). Consequently a vote for a given party may not exactly reflect an individual's preference in a border poll.

And that's only those who actually bother to vote! Many, of course, never go near the voting booth, either because they're disaffected by the political process; or feel they have better things to do; or because they realise that in a heavy Unionist or Nationalist area, their individual vote won't make the slightest bit of difference.

However, as eg Brexit or the last Scottish Referendum showed, in a binary poll like we're talking about, individual votes do make a difference, meaning that many "non-voters" may be tempted to turn out this time.

So if we should be very suspicious of past elections as a guide to which way a Border Poll might go, where do we look? The answer has to be Opinion Polls. Now I know that how the question is asked can often determine the answer which is received etc, and that not all such opinion polls are entirely consistent. Nonetheless, the clear consensus basically since the GFA is that a clear majority (i.e. well over 50% +1) would vote to remain.

Why should this be? Basically because Referenda are at least as much about Identity as they are about the usual political and socio-economic factors which determine elections. And the whole point is Brexit notwithstanding, many in the Nationalist community are broadly satisfied that their Irish identity is now tolerably well recognised and protected, meaning that they are more likely to be concerned about Pensions, NHS, government jobs, DLA etc in such a vote, meaning that many will abstain, or even vote to remain - who needs the disruption, uncertainty, even chaos which might ensue from a UI vote?

Whereas Unionists look at this very differently. Namely, the only way they can preserve their own Identity is by voting to remain in the UK. For at its simplest, if there is no Union, there can be no Unionists, and if they're no longer in the UK, they can no longer be British.

And no amount of assurances of a post-UI state being a "warm house for Unionists" will persuade them to take a chance on it, why should they? It is still remembered that in 1921, the Unionist/Protestant population of the Free State was just over 10%, half a century later it was what demographers deem "statistically insignificant" i.e. under 2 1/2 per cent. (At the same time, the Nationalist/Catholic population in NI was going the other way).

Therefore even if Nationalism can maximise its own traditional vote (highly unlikely imo), it still has no hope of achieving a 50%+ majority, so long as the broader Unionist vote holds up and turns out (highly likely imo).

Which is where the paradox comes in. For every time Nationalism (esp SF) stokes up the temperature* on this issue in order to maximise their own vote, it only causes the Unionist vote to stiffen round the flag.

Which ultimately means that if Nationalism is to woo the persuadeable Unionist voters whom they need, it won't be by castigating them or telling them where they're wrong, mere honeyed words won't be enough. They will also need to demonstrate good faith behind their words, by contributing to good government at Stormont etc, at least while NI is in the UK.

Yet if they do contribute sincerely  and consistently to making NI work to demonstrate their bona fides, that will only make Nationalist waverers less likely to vote for change, while Unionists will conclude that with NI now working better, why should they vote against it?

Above all, the more successful SF is in the Republic, the more determined Unionists will be to vote to remain in the UK, since there is no way on earth that they (including me!) will ever trust our future to a UI political system which could ultimately be dominated by Shinners like the Gerrys Adams and Kelly, none whatever.





* - You know, Barry McElduff and Kingsmills, the Bobby Storey funeral, or Martina Anderson's latest "Brits Out!" outburst etc.

Interesting post. A number of points:

1 - There are nuances within nationalism, just as there are nuances within unionism. How many protestant religious denominations are there? How many loyalist paramilitary groupings are there? How many unionist parties are there? How many fraternal marching organizations are there? In all cases, it's a lot more than one!

2 - Supposed nationalist ambivalence about the constitutional position is not something unionism should take for granted. Yes, there are many nationalists who are kinda content with with the constitutional arrangement, but the almost daily rantings of Jim Allister on Nolan, continued hostility to even any mild expression of the island's indigenous culture, and the annual marching season, are pretty effective at keeping nationalists reminded that at the end of the day, the state was not set up with them in mind and that reunification of the island remains the ultimate goal. If unionism wants nationalism to become more comfortable with the union, the great service they get from the NHS is all well and good, but they might want to think about dialing the bigotry down a few notches.

3 - I've heard this "bloodless genocide" claim about southern protestants before, but anyone who has actually looked into the "plight" of southern protestants has found them doing pretty well. They're over-represented in higher paying professions, for one thing. The proportion of protestants living in the free state has decreased, but I very much doubt that it's because of anything sinister. As the census shows, the proportion of protestants living in the north has also been in a steady decline, but a lot of that is down to historically higher fertility rates among nationalists (leveling off now that they're becoming more affluent) and an increase in the number of 'others' living in the place. Also, of the people from NI who go to places like England for university, nationalists are more likely to come back than unionists.

4 - SF topping the poll in DŠil elections? I wouldn't worry too much about that. The days are gone when free-state parties of any stripe would win an outright majority. SF are still too toxic for most potential coalition partners. Yes it's hypocritical of FF/FG to support power-sharing in the north while refusing to consider SF to be fit for government in the south, but there it is. If anything, a million northern prods would be the perfect counter-balance to any potential domination of SF over politics in a reunified Ireland. A million northern prods would also have a lot more influence in an all-Ireland parliament than they have at Westminster, that's for sure.

5 - You are correct that it's in the best interests of nationalists to make NI work through better governance, but I think the SDLP are better equipped to deliver on that than SF. Thankfully they have a say in the matter thanks to the power-sharing arrangement, so we'll see how that plays out.

6 - I agree that banging on about a border poll is a bit premature. A border poll strikes me as being far down the list of things that need to happen between now and reunification. Per point 5, the economy of the north needs to be restructured so that it gets off what I call the "begging bowl economics" business model and becomes more self sufficient. And yes, that might undermine nationalist sense of urgency for a united Ireland were it to happen, but that would be countered by the constant stream of unionist bigotry in point 2 above.

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General discussion / Re: The Many Faces of US Politics...
« on: April 07, 2021, 01:00:23 AM »
Mitch McConnell, one of the biggest recipients of corporate campaign donations, has unironically asked corporations to stay out of politics, as conservatives mobilize a pathetic attempt to cancel Coca Cola and baseball.

Is there any part of America that these conservatives do like? What's it going to be next? Are they going to cancel apple pie because they think it's too liberal?

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General discussion / Re: The SDLP
« on: April 07, 2021, 12:54:20 AM »
I donít know which is worse. The SF supporters who slavishly follow the party or the anti SF brigade who slate them for absolutely everything. Iíd be fairly certain that most nationalists never mind republicans in the north are none too bothered about taking seats in Westminster.

Anybody thinking that a few Irish MPs will exert any influence on British government policy needs to keep taking the Kool Aid. In fact it could be counter productive in the case of SF.
Iíd say SF would lose at least half their votes in the North if they ever dreamt about swearing allegiance to the crown.

So the other half of SF voters are "bootlickers" who'd be okay with it? Gawd. There's a lot of "bootlickers" about, isn't there?

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General discussion / Re: The SDLP
« on: April 07, 2021, 12:05:40 AM »
List of SF's accomplishments in DŠil Eireann:

...

End of list.

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General discussion / Re: The SDLP
« on: April 07, 2021, 12:04:05 AM »
I donít know which is worse. The SF supporters who slavishly follow the party or the anti SF brigade who slate them for absolutely everything. Iíd be fairly certain that most nationalists never mind republicans in the north are none too bothered about taking seats in Westminster.

Anybody thinking that a few Irish MPs will exert any influence on British government policy needs to keep taking the Kool Aid. In fact it could be counter productive in the case of SF.
Presumably you think the SNP shouldn't take their seats so

Thatís a matter for them, Iím not bothered what they do in Scotland. Iím realistic about what Irish MPs can achieve in Westminster. SF would have absolutely no impact on British government policy,

SF have only 37 of the 160 seats in the DŠil. What's the point of them taking those seats if they have no chance of swaying government policy?

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the right wing English media would go to town on them anyway

True. SF and their supporters have some of the thinnest skin in all creation. God forbid if the Daily Express were to say something mean about them, I don't think they'd be able to cope!

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