Sunday 14 March 2010

You couldn’t make it up!

Owen Polley, a somewhat self-important unionist blogger (who goes by the alias ‘Chekov’ in his blog Three Thousand Versts of Loneliness) recently posted a blog entry entitled 'Decent people' should back the Ulster Unionists (Tuesday, 9 March 2010). Well, he certainly doesn’t hide his affiliation, anyway.

However, the very next day he posted another long blog entry entitled Accentuate the positive - Alex Kane, unionism and the principle of consent (Wednesday, 10 March 2010) in which he pointed out that:
“Unionism which is preoccupied only with sectional ‘Ulster protestant’ interests and is most grimly determined to deliver constant humiliation to, for instance, the Irish language or the GAA, will only create resentment.

It does nationalism’s work for it, by encouraging the notion that ‘Irish’ cultural preoccupations must be wedded to a nationalist political allegiance. The Union Flag becomes a symbol of cultural subjugation, rather than political reality.”
No argument there, of course. This blog has long considered Jim Allister an unwitting (should that be ‘witless’?) friend of nationalism.

But for a UUP blogger to point out that when unionism sets out to insult and denigrate Irish culture and symbolism it does nationalism’s job for it is ironic, to say the least.

The UUP is, after all, the party that:

  • Uses the British flag imposed on the shape of the six counties as its symbol
  • Has David McNarry as an active and leading member
  • Has a leader who is an active Orangeman
  • Has John Laird as an inactive but vocal member
  • Insisted on keeping the constitutionally incorrect and politically divisive word ‘Ulster’ in the title of their non-merger with the Tories
  • Lost its prospective Catholic candidates thanks to its ham-fisted attempts to establish a sectarian pact with the DUP
  • Selected the homophobic and bigoted Adrian Watson to stand in South Antrim
  • Does as much as possible in Northern Ireland, and Brussels, to block the use of Irish
  • Behaves in an un-Christian and shamefully disrespectful way to its Catholic fellow-citizens
And on, and on, and on for ever, so it seems.

Most people can think of dozens of occasions when the UUP or its members have done exactly what Mr Polley (sorry, “Chekov” … ) considers is ‘nationalism’s work’. He selects two obvious areas, the Irish language and the GAA – yet appears naively ignorant of the fact that his party – the one that ‘decent people’ should back – is incurably infected with tribal bigotry with regard to those two issues, as well as others.

Why he thinks that ‘decent people’ would ever vote for a party of anti-Irish bigots is beyond comprehension. Many people, of course, do vote for the UUP – but given its record, as well as the public statements of its members, are they really ‘decent’?

If supposedly intelligent members of the UUP are this blind, what hope is there for unionism?


Malcolm Redfellow said...

I bet you feel better for getting that out of your system.

A nice piece of undiluted vitriol.

Wish I'd written it.

Nordie Northsider said...

Unionist apologists have always baffled me - banging on about atavistic Irish nationalism while ignoring the Kick-the-Pope band in the living room, so to speak. At least Polley was admitting that not all Unionists are urbane sophisticates like his good self. Maybe the penny will finally drop: Unionists behave like supremicists because Unionism is a supremicist ideology.
Meanwhile, a very interesting poll in the Belfast Telegraph suggesting that a majority of the population of the North see Irishness as the main element of their cultural identity. Is this a first? I seem to remember previous surveys with a very strong showing for something called 'Northern Irishness':

New times, New approach said...

What do you think of the B. Telegraph's poll which suggests that a majority of people in the North classify themselves as Irish (42%) rather than British (39%)?
Equally interesting was the fact that only a slim majority (55%) would vote today to remain in the UK.
Could you take a stab at how long the demographic trend will take to bring that figure below 50%?

Mack said...

This might cheer you up Horseman, and spare Unionist bloggers from your ire for a few hours.

An unusual poll -

More people in NI regard themselves as Irish than British.

Support for the Union at only 55%

hoboroad said...

New poll findings highlight a diversity of opinion over whether the province will still be part of UK in 2021

The people of Northern Ireland are split on whether the province will survive as a separate entity until its centenary in 2021, a Belfast Telegraph poll has revealed.

At the start of a week of celebrations marking St Patrick’s Day, the poll sheds new light on the long-standing question of nationhood in Northern Ireland.

It provides another fascinating snapshot of public opinion at a key time in our political history.

The vote is split — 42% agreeing and 42% disagreeing — on whether Northern Ireland will still be part of the United Kingdom by 2021. One in four Protestants (24%) said they thought there will be a united Ireland by then.

That year will mark 100 years since the Government of Ireland Act — which created Northern Ireland — came into force.

The poll also flags up the impact of the economic downturn in the Republic, with 55% of Catholics admitting a united Ireland is less likely because of its fiscal struggles.

Today’s survey is the latest in a series of Belfast Telegraph/Inform Communication polls which examine public opinion in post-devolution Northern Ireland.

The majority of respondents, 55%, believe Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK.

Asked how they would vote in a future referendum on a united Ireland, 36% said they would opt for unification. A breakdown shows 69% of Catholics in support of a united Ireland, with one in four stating Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK.

The last referendum on Irish unification was held in 1973 and found 98.9% in favour of Northern Ireland staying part of the UK.

However, the poll was boycotted by most nationalists, and represented around only 57% of the electorate at the time.

There have been growing calls for another referendum in recent years.

In 2002 then Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said a referendum would cement Northern Ireland’s position within the UK.

Meanwhile Sinn Fein minister Conor Murphy has also spoken about his hope that a referendum could be held before 2016.

The Belfast Telegraph survey confirms that nationality remains a key issue for people here.

Questioned on its relevance, 56% said it was “very important” with a further 32% describing it as “important”. Amongst Protestants, there appears to be a generation gap with 94% of those aged 65 and over describing it as “very important”, compared to 38% of those aged between 18 and 29.

Some 39% of those polled describe their nationality as “British”, with a further 18% stating they are “Northern Irish”. Again, there is a significant difference in responses from people of a certain age. Older people are more likely to consider themselves British, with those aged between 18 and 29 instead opting for Northern Irish status.

Meanwhile 42% said they considered themselves Irish, the vast majority (83%) being members of the Catholic community.

The opinion poll was undertaken by public affairs consultancy Inform Communications over the period March 8-11 2010. Across Northern Ireland 1020 adults were interviewed.

Read more:

hoboroad said...

The findings of this poll highlight the marked divisions that exist in our community around the issue of personal national identity and that these divisions become even more marked when views on the sovereignty of Northern Ireland are sought.

Nationality is important to nearly everyone polled, with 88% of those interviewed saying it was either important or very important to them.

The fact that more people described themselves as Irish (42%) than British (39%) may come as a surprise to many.

That 71% of Protestants view themselves as British and 83% of Catholics consider themselves Irish, may have been more predictable.

However, the 18% of respondents who described their nationality as Northern Irish and, in particular, the 24% of Protestants who did so, is surely significant in terms of the impact it has on reducing the overall British figure.

The higher than might have been expected showing for the Northern Irish identity could be seen as a desire on the part of some to distance themselves from the traditional British or Irish labels in an |effort to present a more inclusive identity.

The United Ireland question is a complex one and the |findings of the three questions that were posed relating to it, highlight a complexity |of divergent views. If there was a referendum about a united Ireland, 55% of respondents said they would vote for Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK, while 36% would vote for the north and south to unite. Significantly, 26% of Catholics would want Northern Ireland to remain in the UK.

In contrast, only 6% of Protestants have an interest in a united Ireland.

Over half (51%) of those interviewed believe that the Republic of Ireland’s well documented economic difficulties have made the prospect of a united Ireland less likely, and this view is shared by respondents from both the Protestant and Catholic communities.

Opinion as to what Northern Ireland’s sovereign position will be, come the centenary anniversary of its establishment in 2021, is divided but largely evenly balanced, with 42% believing it will still be part of the UK and 42% believing it will have become part of a united Ireland. Sixteen percent of respondents were not able to express an opinion.

When the detail behind these figures is compared with the findings regarding a united Ireland referendum it is interesting to note that while 85% of Protestants would vote for Northern Ireland to remain in the UK, nearly a quarter (24%) expect it to have become part of a united Ireland come 2021.

Read more:

Paddy Canuck said...

That's an interesting poll, alright. Things do seem to be softening up. By maybe it's been in the works for a long time. My parents are friends with a slightly younger couple from Northern Ireland. I've met them on occasion and they were interested to talk with me because I went out of my way to become an Irish citizen by foreign births registration. Despite the fact that they were a Protestant couple, they self-identified as Irish -- I asked them -- though they also had no problem with considering themselves as British in the legal and constitutional sense. They also said they were okay with, and even sort of expected, Ireland being reunited at some point. Now, this is just one couple, of course. But it was encouraging to meet people who were okay with whatever the majority of people "at home" wanted so long as everyone was getting a fair shake. That's probably at the heart of the ambivalence of the Northern Irish expressed in the poll with regard to the constitutional arrangements.

Anonymous said...

What a lot of straw grasping!

Only 36% of NI's population would support a United Ireland.

The Union is secure.

Paddy Canuck said...

"Only 36% of NI's population would support a United Ireland.

The Union is secure."

Dude, if every third person you met on the street would hold your head under water for half an hour given the chance, would your prognosis for the course of your life be that it was "secure"? All they need to do is convince every SIXTH person that's a good idea, and you'd better have a snorkel in your wallet.

What would that take? The pound to spiral the drain hand-in-hand with the US dollar (increasingly likely)? Protestant kids staying in GB after graduating while stay-at-home Catholic numbers rise? Ever-increasing cross-border bodies looking after the day-to-day affairs of the island without GB taking much of a hand in things? Well, that's all underway. Anything's possible... but "secure" is not a word I would use to describe Northern Ireland's current constitutional arrangements. "Wind-borne", maybe.

deborah said...

Anonymous said...

What a lot of straw grasping!

Only 36% of NI's population would support a United Ireland.

The Union is secure.

very true mate, but its only really heading one way..

Anonymous said...

Paddy Cannuck said:

""secure" is not a word I would use to describe Northern Ireland's current constitutional arrangements. "Wind-borne", maybe."

Ye, but let's face it Paddy, you don't actually know what you're talking about.

Paddy Canuck said...

"Ye, but let's face it Paddy, you don't actually know what you're talking about."

Hmm, let's see, Irish phrase book, Irish phrase book... mmm... ah, here it is. Ahem...

'Get... stuffed.' Cool, there we go.