Thursday 12 June 2008

C'mon over ... but not 'up'

The outflow of Protestant students from Northern Ireland has been noted before by this blog (here and here and here), as well as by unionists including Reg Empey, Minister of Employment and Learning. Now the Minister, in a rather pathetic attempt to stem the hemorrhage of young educated Protestants, is trying to organize a reverse flow by persuading graduates from Britain to move to Northern Ireland. He is, of course, particularly interested in Scottish graduates, who can be relied on to reinforce the stagnant unionist population.

The Minister, through his department, has launched a campaign called C'mon over, aimed at encouraging "suitably skilled people to consider Northern Ireland as a place to live and work". What the campaign is really aimed at, of course, is encouraging British Protestants to move to Northern Ireland, in order to bolster the numbers of pro-British voters.

The Minister's department – Employment and Learning – attended the Edinburgh Graduate Fair on 22 May 2008 and the Glasgow University Graduate Fair on 28 and 29 May 2008 to promote their campaign.

One wonders, if his aim is simply to encourage skilled graduates to move to Northern Ireland, why his department is not organising a parallel campaign, called C'mon up, in universities in the south? If, as he has claimed, he is trying to encourage Northern Irish graduates to return to Northern Ireland, then why is the campaign not called C'mon back?

This is clearly a sectarian and politically motivated attempt by a unionist minister to abuse his office to try to reinforce the unionist population of Northern Ireland. It is a sign of his, and his party's recognition that the numerical battle is being won by nationalism.

9 comments:

O'Neill said...

Horseman
Now the Minister, in a rather pathetic attempt to stem the hemorrhage of young educated Protestants, is trying to organize a reverse flow by persuading graduates from Britain to move to Northern Ireland.

You probably want to check that "hemorrhage" first of all, sounds nasty.

Did Sir Reg say "Please only Prod graduates come back"? It may shock you to discover Harseman that English/Scottish and Weslh universities do not employ religious discrimination in deciding who to admit from NI.

I'll let you into a wee secret...I attended a Further Education institution on the mainland and shared lectures with guys from Ballymurphy and er..."Derry". (as an aside, along with a guy from Dublin and Glasgow we've all ended up as best buddies- I know that'll be difficult for someone with your rather, let's be kind, parochial attitudes to comprehend).
Anyway, point is universities on the mainland contain folk of all religions and none- you'll have to trust me on that one. Reg looking to bring such students over can only be construed as sectarian if, well, you've lived in Northern Ireland all your life and had limited exposure to the real world.

He is, of course, particularly interested in Scottish graduates, who can be relied on to reinforce the stagnant unionist population.

How can I break this to you gently...Scotland particularly the West Coast, Glasgow and Edinburgh has a problem with sectarianism. Problems woth sectarianism emerge because there are two different groups of religious persuasion living in close proximity...do you see where I'm leading here?

Seriously Horseman, if I were an irish nationalist (and I thank the Good Lord every night that I'm not) I would be not relying or getting too stressed out by the old demographic arguments- it's so 1970s man. Build a cohernet argument on political, economic and social grounds and you might, juts might start to get somewhere.

Horseman said...

Thanks for the feedback, O'Neill. It is a load of rubbish, but thanks nonetheless!

Of course universities on "the mainland" (of what, Europe? Grow up!) contain people of all religions, but the breakdown is considerably more favourable to Protestantism, and more importantly unionism, than that in NI. Many Catholic English or Scottish people, transported to NI, would end up by default on the unionist side of the fence. That is, of course, what Reg's sordid little campaign is hoping.

Your comments "I'll let you into a wee secret ...", "I know that'll be difficult ...", "you'll have to trust me on that one ...", and "How can I break this to you gently ..." make you sound as if you're trying to patronise me! How touching. But a waste of your time.

Since unionists refuse to listen to "political, economic and social" arguments (as almost 100 years of recent history has shown), I for one am very happy to rely on the one argument you will not be able to ignore - being outnumbered and outvoted.

Anonymous said...

Seems Reg is playing political games with office. But there are not too many Scots or English going to come over to la la land.

Go to Queens campus, however, and you'll see an array of GAA jerseys representing many of the 32 counties. Thus Reg is fighting a battle he cannot win. People from the South see it as moving to the north of their own country, people from Scotland, England see moving to Ulster as moving to another country, Ireland.

O'Neill said...

Since unionists refuse to listen to "political, economic and social" arguments (as almost 100 years of recent history has shown), I for one am very happy to rely on the one argument you will not be able to ignore - being outnumbered and outvoted.

It's not the Unionists you have to convince, they are as entitled to their national identity as you are; if I were to provide you with political/social/economic arguments as to why a United Ireland was a non-starter would that change your political philosophy? No, of course not.

Your obsession with voting figures should tell you who is the biggest number of the potential electorate-it's those who don't vote.

It's the undecideds, the passive unionists, the don't cares, the neutrals that Irish nationalism has failed to convince of their cause and by relying on demographics to convince these folks, you're missing the point completely and also it makes you no better than your mirror ethno-nationalists of the DUP on the other side.

Horseman said...

O'Neill,

It's the undecideds, the passive unionists, the don't cares, the neutrals that Irish nationalism has failed to convince ...

Those who don't vote are uninterested in either outcome - nationalist or unionist. You appear to see them as latent anti-nationalists, when they may equally be latent anti-unionists, or more likely just pure apathetic.

My point is that seems pointless to try to 'persuade' a group of people whose politics seem to be based (I regret to say) on religious bigotry. At no point have I ever heard a unioniist saying, "hang on, let's give re-unification another look. After all, the south is far richer, more liberal, has no remaining religious interference, and provides excellent island-wide economies of scale in economic, social, educational, etc, matters. And indeed, since 45% of the people of NI are aalready Irish by choice of identity, it's not such a bit step to make!". Have you ever heard such thinking in unionist circles? I think not.

Instead unionists try to think up other new reasons for being 'agin' the south. If religion is removed, then harp on about the economy. Now that's removed, so what's next? You're running out of placees to hide, and your basic religious bigotry is becoming clearer than ever. For some unionists it maay not be a religious thing anymore, but rather a reluctance to admit equality with the conquered people. Either way, its an obsolete reason, and history is going to relegate unionism to a footnote.

O'Neill said...

There’s a brilliant quotation in this review of Derek Lundy’s book:
Men That God Made Mad: A Journey Through Truth, Myth and Terror in Northern Ireland:

"Yet one of his most depressing recent encounters is with a complacent Queen's student renting his grandmother's old house. She piously denounces loyalist paramilitaries carrying out punishment shootings, implies that the IRA and its splinters no longer exist, and claims that she couldn't live off the Stranmillis Road because of the unionist insignia painted on kerbstones and hung out of windows (invisible to Lundy, and most other people). "In her own pleasant, new-generation way she seemed as bigoted as any old-timer; she thought Protestants were vicious and prejudiced (as many of them are) but Catholics were non-sectarian normal people." And he is honest enough to see that his own irritation with her may indicate "the pull and rasp" of his own tribal identification."

Now I have got no clue nor interest as to your religion, but if you substitute "nationalist" for Catholic and "Unionist" for "protestant", then when I read your comment above, that was the quote which came directly to mind.

Now back to that comment:

Those who don't vote are uninterested in either outcome - nationalist or unionist. You appear to see them as latent anti-nationalists, when they may equally be latent anti-unionists, or more likely just pure apathetic.

I’ve no idea about their political persuasion...however, logically, there is a bigger onus on those who want to change the status quo to vote. If I were a nationalist looking for a “United” Ireland I’d make sure that I’d be the first one in the polling station. Also, surveys such as this reflect a large majority still in favour of maintaining the link with the rest of the UK…but that is not reflected in those who still vote DUP/UUP.

My point is that seems pointless to try to 'persuade' a group of people whose politics seem to be based (I regret to say) on religious bigotry. At no point have I ever heard a unionist saying, "hang on, let's give re-unification another look.

And my point made earlier seems to have flown completely over your head, or maybe you did understand and still decided not to answer it?
To repeat, Unionists are entitled to their British identity, they are entitled to have the continuance of the Union as the core of their political philosophy. That’s their bottom line, my question for you is whether you agree with those two statements or not?

After all, the south is far richer, more liberal, has no remaining religious interference, and provides excellent island-wide economies of scale in economic, social, educational, etc, matters.

Oh dear. More liberal, no remaining religious interference?
Remind me again, when were women were given full reproductive rights in the ROI?
Remind me again, which institution in the ROI controls 90% of the STATE's educational system?

But regarding the main point, again you simply refuse to get it.
The ROI for a large part of its history was a theocracy, where the government couldn’t fart without asking permission from the RC hierarchy.
The ROI for a large part of its history was a socially repressive backwater with a joke of an economy. But did those three facts make the nationalists of NI any more Unionist? Why not? See what I’m getting at here?
The ROI could be heaven on earth for all I care, but it still wouldn’t change the fact that I was born and will die British; you seem to have problems accepting my and unionists’ national identity- isn’t that slightly intolerant of you?

And indeed, since 45% of the people of NI are already Irish by choice of identity, it's not such a bit step to make!".

I’m also Irish with the added privilege of being British- do you recognise that as being possible in your two dimensional, black and white world? And many other Unionists hold the same dual identity, so actually that 45% figure is way out- it’s far too small.

Have you ever heard such thinking in unionist circles? I think not.

Unionists believe in the continuing Union with the UK , why should they then suddenly transfer their allegiance to another state?

Instead unionists try to think up other new reasons for being 'agin' the south.

I’m not against the ROI; I have made some very profitable business connections there and I greatly enjoy visiting its very many beautiful sights. I’m delighted that NI and ROI can be good neighbours- I’m just not that keen on us becoming family.

If religion is removed, then harp on about the economy. Now that's removed, so what's next? You're running out of places to hide, and your basic religious bigotry is becoming clearer than ever.

Oh right, if all rational argument fails, back “to the sure they’re all a pack of Prod bigots anyway” non-school of thought.
Read that quote from Derek Lundy at the top of this comment again very carefully.

And two further points on this one:

1.I’m a Unionist, do you know what religion, if any, I practise?
If so, how? from that “o’neill” handle I use?
2.If you’re still not convinced this is my blog; it’s strongly pro-Union. I challenge you or anyone else reading to pull out one post I have done (from over 600 I’ve written_ which contains any element of religious bigotry. If you can’t, then I expect an apology for the statement you've made above

For some unionists it may not be a religious thing anymore, but rather a reluctance to admit equality with the conquered people.

But you’ve just said both my and other unionists’ political philosophy is based on religious bigotry- you’re contradicting yourself.
And “conquered people”? Do you really feel like a “conquered” person?

Either way, its an obsolete reason, and history is going to relegate unionism to a footnote.

OK, final point and don’t worry, I’ll not be contaminating your blog here again with my Unionist religious bigotry...more to satisfy my own curiosity than anything else, do you have any Unionist/Protestants amongst your friend circle, work-colleagues or neighbours?

Horseman said...

O'Neill,

Your comments are getting longer and more complex, so to avoid writing ever-longer replies, let me just pick a few things to comment on. If you want responses to anything else, please say so.

Firstly, you appeare to think that I am some kind of Catholic bigot, ignorant of the ways of protestants. Sorry, but I was born and raised in the C of I, and went to a very Prod/Unionist school. I know the mentality very very well. Most of my family are Protestant, as are many of my workmates, friends and contacts.

Secondly, I do know your blog. I've been there and read some of the stuff (not all).

Thirdly, your views of the south are so very passé. This is no longer the 1950's, and nobody in the south has taken their morality from the Catholic church for a long time. Your belief that this was recently the case demonstrates ignorance.

Fourthly, when I sad "your basic religious bigotry', I was referring to unionism as a whole, not you personally (who I do not know).

Finally, no I don't feel like a 'conquered person'; as a descendent of the plantation why would I? But I know the distain and thinly disguised contempt of my own Protestant people for the 'natives' very well. Just look at the attitudes towards both the 'native' religion an the 'native' language.

Feel free to come back, but please come back a little less ignorant.

O'Neill said...

Now I have got no clue nor interest as to your religion, but if you substitute "nationalist" for Catholic and "Unionist" for "protestant", then when I read your comment above, that was the quote which came directly to mind.

"bang" goes your point 1 and 5.

Point 3- you haven't my question,re abortion and the school system in the ROI.

I'll take point 2 & 4 as an apology.

Succint enough for you?

Anonymous said...

All he is saying is that by and large you can make that generalisation with "Protestant meaning Unionist" and "Catholic meaning Nationalist" when you compare the strong correlation between religious breakdown and voting. This is a valid point even if Horseman may (or may not) be an exception to the rule.
The abortion issue is a red herring. If the DUP had their way we would would go back to the stone age on that issue - along with contempt for gays. Not sure exactly what you are saying about the school system in the ROI. You think non-catholics are given a hard time? Maybe 20-30 years ago or even longer but certainly no more.