Wednesday 6 May 2009

A Generation of reparations

The apparent softening of Sinn Féin's determination to achieve Irish reunification and sovereignty as soon as possible has led some commentators to draw incorrect conclusions. From the extremes of unionism there comes crowing about how unionism is now dominant, while from the extremes of republicanism come accusations of betrayal.

Yet at the same time both extremes are keenly aware that Sinn Féin continues to push an agenda that is nationalist in word and deed. Sinn Féin has clearly not capitulated to unionism, and equally clearly has not betrayed its republican aspirations. Unionists continue to whine about Sinn Féin's on-going policy of removing, or balancing, British and unionist symbols, in contradiction to their claims of unionist dominance.

So what is really happening? Why is Sinn Féin not pushing for immediate British withdrawal, and immediate Irish sovereignty?

One possible reason is staring us all in the face. In the current economic climate unionism is right about one thing – the south could not afford the north. The sheer scale of the dependence of Northern Ireland on financial transfers from wealthy south-east England means that immediate British withdrawal would lead to economic meltdown, not just in the north but also in the south, which would have to try to foot the bills. To be blunt, Northern Ireland is an economic basket-case kept going only by the fact that the majority of its people live off the taxes of the British. In the current recession that is not going to change – there are simply not going to be any big new investments in Northern Ireland in the next few years. Ironically, however, Northern Ireland's welfare dependence may mean that it will suffer less from the recession than other parts of Ireland or Britain.

The best short-term financial strategy for Northern Ireland, therefore, is to continue to suck money out of south-east England until the global economy improves. In this way people in Northern Ireland have a standard of living that is far superior to that that their productivity would provide, and they have no strong incentive to change that situation. Given the complexities of the British taxation and expenditure systems, any increase in productivity in Northern Ireland would not particularly benefit people in Northern Ireland. In the same way, a non-functioning private sector economy does not particularly reduce the standard of living in Northern Ireland.

The demographic evolution of Northern Ireland's population is going to deliver a Catholic majority within a generation, and this will, in all likelihood, translate into a nationalist majority – or at least a nationalist plurality. When this happens, and national re-unification becomes the principal political issue in Ireland, it will be important for Northern Ireland not to be seen as a welfare dependent drag on the economy. But this situation is still 15 years away – another two full business cycles. In the meantime, while demography is working its discreet magic, Sinn Féin's strategy may simply be to work away on removing the visible symbols of Britishness, while deliberately extracting as much money as possible from the British state – a form of invisible reparations for the generations of damage and division that Britain has caused in Ireland.

In this way Sinn Féin will be in a position to lead Northern Ireland into the new Ireland with good roads, schools, hospitals, housing and infrastructure, all financed by the unwitting British taxpayer. Unionist boasts of intra-UK solidarity are hollow when the 'solidarity' is in reality a one-way flow from south-east England to poorer regions including Northern Ireland. But the real irony is that these transfers are acting as reparations payments that will in turn facilitate the reunification of Ireland in a few years.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

MY PASSPORTS' GREEN......
I hope you are right! This Blog is brilliant. Keep it up. The European Elections at this stage look like throwing up something new and wonderful for nationalism....give us some thoughts when nominations close!
I can not get enough of this.

Anonymous said...

You seem to assume that the re-unification of Ireland would be as simple a matter of the 6 counties joining the 26 counties and everything is left to the 26 county goernment to sort out.

That ,as you point out, would be doomed to failure.Zany form of re-unification would still have to be financed for a period from the British exchequer aswell as the EU, after all the Brits partitioned the country in the first place!

Anonymous said...

Zany form of re-unification...Sounds fascinating!

Anonymous said...

'The demographic evolution of Northern Ireland's population is going to deliver a Catholic majority within a generation, and this will, in all likelihood, translate into a nationalist majority.'

Still in fantasy land, eh Horseman (or should that be Stephen Copeland?). Let's cut through the rubbish:

1. First of all the principal determinant of demographic change is migration, not births. All you have here is, as Chekov has pointed out, a nasty weblog that purports to show that one religion is outbreeding the other. You have no statistics on the religious make-up of the migrant total to NI over the past seven years, as such information is only available at the time of a Census.

2. 18% of births in NI are to mothers who were themselves born outside the Province. Even if a small Catholic majority - perhaps driven by Polis migration - were to emerge in the distant future, why do nationalists (and let's face it, it's nationalists who are the keenest on the notion of demographic future supremacy) insist that 'unification' will become the primary issue on the island? There will be countless other considerations to look at, notwithstanding the political (I stress political, not legal) propaganda put out about the Belfast Agreement by republican Ireland.

3. NI has never, repeat never, existed purely on the will of its Protestant inhabitants. It is not a European version of Saudi Arabia.

As for the Sinn Fein agenda delivering, I doubt there are many observers, even impartial ones, who would concur with your analysis. All this blog is helping to do, as I have pointed out on ATW, is to make Catholics the targets of hate for the knuckledraggers amongst the working class Protestant population. Because to you, every Catholic is an ingredient in the grand scheme of destroying the Union, irrespective of what real-life cultural, political, socio-economic or ethnic factors come into play here.

If you want to play 'every Catholic is a nationalist' game, there is nothing anybody can do to stop you. But, with only 21,000 hits in almost a year (ATW gets more than that per month), it seems very few take your argument seriously.

Andrew McCann

Anonymous said...

Quote from Andrew McCann;

"And I'll repeat: I'll never, ever support a 'united Ireland' under ANY circumstances."

McCann shuts down comments when people disagree with him.

Horseman said...

Anonymous (and AMcC, indirectly),

I don't take McCann seriously. Nor does anyone else. But I find it slightly reassuring that this blog unsettles him.

hoboroad said...

You are so right horseman poor andrew always running away from the truth the unions days are numbered

Anonymous said...

'McCann shuts down comments when people disagree with him.'

No, I shut down comments when people substitute argument with personal abuse.

'I don't take McCann seriously...'

Be assured the feeling is mutual. You're just another separatist supporter pissing in the wind

'Nor does anyone else....'

A statement with about as much verification as the analytical standpoint of this blog.

'But I find it slightly reassuring that this blog unsettles him.'

'Unsettles'? (LOL) Hardly! I leave this site with a smile on my face resulting from its creator's naivete.

Andrew McCann

hoboroad said...

yes just right horseman england should leave and leave its chequebook behind

Anonymous said...

'yes just right horseman england should leave and leave its chequebook behind.'

Wow, the intellectual rigour of Irish republicanism (LOL).

When you reach the last chance saloons of Catholic fecundity and anticipated British fiscal generosity in the face of separation, you're argument in really in trouble.

Andrew McCann

Anonymous said...

Whoops, that should be 'your argument'. Apologies.

hoboroad said...

OMG i have upset the genius andrew mccann poor andrew if he ever had an orginal idea it would die a slow lonely death what went wrong with poor andrew not enough mothers love so filled with hate for anybody he happens to disagree with

Anonymous said...

'OMG i have upset the genius andrew mccann poor andrew if he ever had an orginal idea it would die a slow lonely death what went wrong with poor andrew not enough mothers love so filled with hate for anybody he happens to disagree with'

A classic example of why comprehensive education stinks.

Andrew McCann

Anonymous said...

Ha, Andy does write some good rants. Obviously they are completely one sided and really don't have any point but they do provide a laugh.

The basic argument Andrew has is that NI will stay in the Union because that is what he wants. The guy is a genius.

He comes on to a blog and boasts that the blog he posts on gets more hits. Wow, again another genius argument. Like any of Andy arguments if you just scratch the surface you can find a flaw with the argument.

Ulster's Doomed; only NI topics, only one author, does not post everyday.

ATW; 5 or 6 authors, numerous posts everyday, a wide range of topics.

I wonder which blog is going to get more hits?

hoboroad said...

poor andrew went to a grammar school what was it Bangor grammar you sound like one of them

Anonymous said...

'Obviously they are completely one sided..'

Whereas 'Ulster's Doomed' is the quintessence of impartiality.

'really don't have any point but they do provide a laugh.'

As opposed to Irish republicanism, which is pointless and humourless.

'The basic argument Andrew has is that NI will stay in the Union because that is what he wants.'

No, the basic argument I have is that NI will stay in the Union because of constitutional, political, cultural and socio-economic realities.

'The guy is a genius.'

Obviously.

'I wonder which blog is going to get more hits?'

The one which doesn't approach the future of Northern Ireland from a standpoint as deficient as the one reliant on sectarian demography.

Andrew McCann

Anonymous said...

http://atangledweb.squarespace.com/httpatangledwebsquarespace/st-patricks-day-belfast-the-rebel-fest.html

Anonymous said...

Even if a small Catholic majority - perhaps driven by Polis migration - were to emerge in the distant future...

I knew a lot of Poles had joined the PSNI, but Polis migration?

Anonymous said...

Friends

As a Welshman who's chanced on this website:

1. Who is Andrew McCann - not insults please, just is he a politican/journalist etc? Maybe best for Andrew to answer.

2. What is ATW?

3. McCann raises ligitmate issues, there's no certainty that a Catholic majority would vote for unification - the Flemings don't want unification with the Netherlands even if they want the end of Belgium (just one not so good example). Would people vote for unification if 'you have to pay to see the GP in the Republic' argument is used - type of argument which would be used in Wales.


- I enjoy the blog by the way.

Cymro

Horseman said...

Hi Cymro,

Andrew McCann is a long-established commenter, blogger and letter-writer. He has been banned from one of Northern Ireland's main political blogs (Slugger O'Toole) for being aggressive, insulting and using ad hominem attacks. Oh, and he is also an extremely right-wing unionist.

ATW is a blog (A Tangled Web) on which he sometimes writes.

You're right - the example of Belgium isn't very good. A majority of the Flemish do not want to break up Belgium - that's a minority position. The issue of re-unification in Ireland is complex, of course, and we cannot know what the economic circumstances will be when it happens. Maybe paying for a GP visit mightn't seem so bad if your income is much higher, and taxes lower (as is currently the case). All you can say at present is that almost all Catholics vote for pro-unification parties, so you've got to assume they support re-unification. Opinion polls are not really an adequate substitute for actual votes.

Anonymous said...

'He has been banned from one of Northern Ireland's main political blogs (Slugger O'Toole)'

I was banned for a month in 2004 and said I would never comment on the site again. I kept my word.

'for being aggressive, insulting and using ad hominem attacks.'

Whereas...'One thing above all others shows up the narrow, insular and xenophobic nature of unionism.'...apparently doesn't register on the same radar (LOL)

'Oh, and he is also an extremely right-wing unionist.'

And fiercely proud of it!

'Opinion polls are not really an adequate substitute for actual votes.'

Completely forgetting the example of Quebec, where separatist parties actually gained a majority of votes in the early 1990s (a situation never achieved in Northern Ireland), and yet separatism lost the referendum on Quebec independence in 1995.

Andrew McCann

Anonymous said...

Is there anyway this McCann idiot, who spreads like a malign virus throughout the NI politics blogopshere, can be banned from posting here?

Anonymous said...

Andy you just lost all credibility with me (not that you had much). I went to university in Montreal and I think anybody with half a brain could tell that the situation in NI & Quebec are two completely different situations. Quebec is more of a Scottish Independence scenario than anywhere close to a United Ireland scenario.

Horseman said...

Anonymous,

Is there anyway [...] McCann [...] can be banned from posting here?I don't know, and even if there was, I wouldn't do it. Censorship offends my liberal instincts, and it s better that we read what he thinks, the better to argue against him and his sort (or ignore them, more likely!)

hoboroad said...

Love the blog

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog, that Mc cann is a ... dickhead