Wednesday, March 23, 2016

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Censorship, Éire Nua And A New Low For Nolan

Sean Bresnahan is a member of the 1916 Societies and proponent of the Éire Nua policy. As a regular contributor to The Pensive Quill he writes here in an individual capacity.

Having been away over St. Patrick's, only getting a 'catch up' on the TV planner last night, it was with a mix of delight and disgust that I watched last week's episode of The Stephen Nolan Show.


Ordinarily I wouldn't return to the programme but having been told Des Dalton of Republican Sinn Féin had appeared I wanted to see how he fared. And I must say that in a sea of hostility he conducted himself like the gentleman he is and with great dignity. The same cannot be said for the host or some on the co-panel. So first off, well done to Des. It was a delight to see him face-off against a stacked panel and come out with his reputation intact.

What soon became obvious is that censorship and the barracking of those who won't normalise with the status quo is as prevalent today as ever. The attempts of Nolan to intimidate were as plain as the man is ignorant but at one point he couldn't contain himself, seething across the studio as though Des himself had killed Adrian Ismay, whose death was cynically exploited throughout. Sickening stuff to say the least but to be expected from a prize bully, well-known for his obnoxious approach to presenting.






Des Dalton
And as for the performance of the self-serving Paul Givan, that old superiority complex in unionism is alive and well 20 years into a so-called peace process. It shows how incredibly hard it will be to make a proper peace with those of his mindset. In turn we had Iraq war criminal Shaun Woodward's 'contribution'. The less said of that hypocrite the better but he seems to forget the tens of thousands he helped widow and orphan in the Middle East. When all's said and done, the only man who conducted himself as appropriate was Des Dalton. Nolan, as ever, lost the run of himself while the others gave only what we'd expect.

All of that aside, it was great to hear the name Ruairi Ó Bradaigh sound out once more on mainstream media, for the first time in a long time. That his cherished proposals for a New Ireland based on a provincial federation were not allowed into the discussion, shouted down by a baying Nolan, merely reflected the true agenda. It was deeply disappointing, especially as a unionist observer had asked what republicans intend to do with his community in a United Ireland. In where Des was trying to move the discussion lay the answer, and with it a pathway to a true peace for all in our country.

Censorship however prevailed, because those on the programme do not want a meaningful peace. They want to prove they were right and others wrong, a disturbing and bitter mindset cloaked only by their self-righteousness. As pointed out to no avail, they refuse to grasp the root cause of conflict in Ireland, which continues to be the unjust partition of the island and the claims to sovereignty by a foreign government over part of its territory. Until this is acknowledged and a settlement agreed accordingly there will be those prepared to respond through armed actions – no matter how many condemn them or how futile be their campaign. It may not make them right but it remains the reality and that is what Des had tried to explain.

Joining the attack we then were treated to Sinn Féin’s Raymond McCartney, his description of a non-existent strategy for Irish Unity as convincing as Nolan’s neutrality. Plenty of soundbite and nothing of substance, the Triple Lock and Unionist Veto, which stand as permanent barriers to a United Ireland, wilfully glossed over alongside his party’s total surrender to the normalisation process. He claimed that the political framework which gave rise to the 1998 Agreement emerged from a broad-based consensus when in reality the British government imposed their Framework Documents unilaterally and regardless of the Irish.

The means to achieve Irish freedom are not found in the Good Friday Agreement and the politics Raymond now pursues. His claims that everything changed in 1998 and that the so-called democratic process became open to all, allowing all to achieve their objectives by peaceful and democratic means, is entirely bogus. The framework he now defends was on the table from as early as Sunningdale. The one-time notion of a transition to a transition has never materialised, his party now defined by its commitment to administering British rule with no end in sight. A sad end for Raymond.

If honest debate had been permitted so much more could have been realised. Had Des and the issues he raised been given fair hearing, rather than barked at throughout, we might have seen that republicans of his persuasion have more to offer than credited. The Éire Nua policy he advocates remains the only fully-developed proposal not only for how a reunified Ireland might appear but for how it might reconcile with the Protestant community in Ulster and deliver a full and permanent peace. That this was barked down is a sad waste but in truth to be expected from those who want peace on their terms alone.

Regardless, the proposal remains and is worth revisiting. Of itself, it presents a credible alternative to the existing partitionist establishment, envisaging the reunification of Ireland in the form of an all-Ireland federal arrangement, with the historic Provinces of Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht at the hub of new governmental structures. Éire Nua seeks peace within a democratic polity where decision-making power resides with the people, giving all sections of the community a direct say in the governing of their own affairs.

Surely that is to be embraced and not shouted down, included instead of shut out. Surely it’s worth considering when the current arrangements, bequeathed us by McCartney, Woodward et al, have failed society, proven totally unworkable and are incapable of establishing peace. We should take note that peace is about more than the absence of violence and involves agreeing a just settlement to conflict and moving forward from there. Éire Nua can achieve that while Good Friday never will. Excluding alternatives will do nothing but prolong that very same conflict, condemning our country to further generations of wrangling and bitterness. That Nolan will have plenty to prop up his ratings is of little comfort to the rest of us.

25 comments :

frankie said...

Sean this will either make you madder or shake your head in disbelief..

Malachi o'Doherty admitted Des Dalton got rail roaded and by the way he thinks Eire Nua is pie in the sky. The call 'Martin' a former SF councillor from Antrim {he left in 2005} was interesting.. 25min 12sec

frankie said...

Should have said Malachi starts at 7m 25secs in the above link....

Steve Ricardos said...

OK Sean, what is 'in' this 'eire nua' for Ulster Protestants?

frankie said...



Steve do you mean the 6 counties...?


Lots of Ulster protestants already live, vote, pay tax in the 26 counties...

sean bres said...

Listened to the programme Frankie, thanks for the link. Is Malachai Ó Dochartaigh for real? I wonder is he so quick to talk about people standing at the Cenotaph on Armistice Day who carried out killings. Oh yeah I forgot, they fought for 'freedom'. Steve, been out at the cinema, watched that 10 Cloverfield Lane. Free advice: don't bother. I'll look better at your comment tomorrow.

Steve Ricardos said...

Frankie,

If you prefer Sean's terminology.. 'Protestant community in Ulster' that's fine too.

Still, completely ignores the fact that they see themselves as 'British' whichever moniker you ordain upon them.

So I will rephrase the question, What's in a 'eire nua' for the British community in the North East 6 counties of Ireland?

Steve Ricardos said...

No worries Sean, cheers.

Peter said...

Sean
I didn't watch the programme as I think Nolan is a prize twat, however if Dalton was howled down it is indicative of where the people are at just now. Adams realised many years ago that while he was linked with murder the people would not listen to nor vote for him. The people of this island have repeatedly made clear in the last decades that they no longer want armed groups running around murdering people in the name of Ireland or any part thereof. Dalton is an apologist for a micro group that continues to plan the murder of Irish people. In recent years they have murdered a catholic policeman by shooting him in the back while trying to protect his community from suspected burglars, and several members of their own organisation in so called feuds. They have also continued to fill the jails with young men radicalised by sad old bastards who should know better. Their organisation is riddled with division and touts. Yet you say nothing about this? The only injustice you mention is the injustice of partition. You only lament that Dalton was howled down. Is it any wonder he gets peoples' hackles up? Is it any wonder people don't want to listen to what he says?

sean bres said...

Steve, have you had a chance to read the policy? What it offers the unionist / Protestant / British-identifying community in the Six Counties is pretty self-evident and should be readily understood. Unionists I know have described it a fairer arrangement for them than being penned into an all-island unitary state and ruled from Dublin, as a reasonable option for their community in a United Ireland.

If nothing else it's a proposal that takes account of the reality of the conflict in Ulster rather than wishfully ignoring it. And as I suggested in the piece, the conflict is not necessarily physical and thus the absence of physical violence does not always equate to peace. It certainly does not at the moment.

So Éire Nua is what it says on the tin, an arrangement that is not only fairer on the Ulster Protestants (just checking is there a problem with that term?) but which allows for a shift away from the centralised state and towards regional decision-making. The centralised state has hardly delivered for the people of Donegal or Roscommon or Clare. We can all do better and with Éire Nua we have the opportunity to do so.

On that radio phone-in (Frankie linked it in his first comment) Malachai Ó Dochartaigh dismissed the policy in suggestive terms, as though its supporters were militarists who insist it the only option we're prepared to consider. But that is untrue. What it is, quite simply, is a proposal and no-one has said we will force this on the Irish people come what may, as that narrow-minded bafoon tried to make out.

It is the preferred option of some republicans, myself included, who hope to address the concerns of the unionist community, their fear of being absorbed into unitary state ruled from Dublin. But it should also be noted we see it only as a good option and not the Gospel. We are prepared to discuss other options and if there are others that can better accommodate the unionist community then they are as worthy of consideration as the next.

Such alternatives should be on the table and not rubbished as pie-in-the-sky. What is pie-in-the-sky is that partition will ever work or deliver a lasting peace in Ireland. It doesn't, it can't and it never will - because partition and the claim to sovereignty over a part of Ireland is the root cause of conflict in our country and that can't be wished away. Instead it should be grasped and an arrangement accommodating both traditions, and indeed all sections of the Irish people, agreed.

Éire Nua tries to do that and if nothing else it's an honest effort. I feel it's time has yet to come. In the meantime, especially for the people living in the North, we will continue to endure the rubbish which passes for politics and a so-called new beginning. It is anything but.

Mark said...

I am not sure which show you watched. Nolan was, in comparison to his usual self-aggrandising, calm. And even if you thought he wasn't I am sure Des knew by going onto the show he would have been on the receiving end of the establishments stick. Either way, that point is highly irrelevant, it is superficial and only serves to reinforce the point that the content was airbrushed for the Nolan act.

The question asked by the gentleman was not being answered with reference to Eire Nua. Paraphrasing, would he, as a unionist, be coerced into a United Ireland? The answer is yes based on the history of Ireland. Violence has always been used to end the occupation thus if violence succeeds he will have been coerced.

The biggest issue I had with what Des said was we need a settlement. That ignores the reality of specifically what he was on to discuss. There can be no settlement if violence continues.There will be unionists and nationalists, loyalists and republicans who lose either way. The cycle will just start from the other.

As for Eire Nua. At least it's a strategy and a viable one, but it won't work if people are coerced into it; as a proposal is better than anh Sinn Fein have, the fact they have no strategy at all -other than grand gestures at the feet of the occupying monarch - speaks volumes for how embedded they are in maintaining the status quo.

The GFA represents the most realistic chance of attaining a United Ireland. It is flawed but less flawed than isolating unionism through violence. The transition depends upon them accepting it and that creates the lasting settlement. The Settlement isn't dependent upon Westminster but the unification of all people of this island and that is the major flaw of republicans, mainstream or dissenter.

sean bres said...

Peter, he was not howled down by the audience and indeed when a member of the audience asked how unionism could fit into his vision of a United Ireland the discussion was finally starting to go somewhere. Of course Nolan very quickly pounced and resumed the brow-beating - the only reason the man was let on in the first place. Whether his politics are agreeable or not he should have been allowed to speak, given he took the trouble to attend. If people don't want to listen to him then why ask him on the show? It was pure red-top journalism and a total disgrace. Nolan is toxic as far as I'm concerned.

Steve Ricardos said...

Sean,

I have just read it now, and yes, I can see it being somewhat fairer than a centralized admin area namely Dublin.

I guess what I notice about it is that there is nothing to encourage 'ulster protestants' (nothing wrong in any of terminology used) to give up the NI Assembly for an Ulster Assembly in a federal united Ireland.

For that matter, for those in the Republic, can they see any enticement to change their status quo? Would traditional FF or FG voters be tempted?

I really fear you are trying to move a mountain with a teaspoon, with regard to both current jurisdictions.

But you clearly are a man of conviction, so good luck to you.

Peter said...

Sean
As Mark points out above and AM on the other thread it all comes down to coercion. The people simply do not want any part of forcing others into a situation they are not happy with. Eire Nua is an interesting concept, I don't think it will be the prefered option if it ever comes to it. I think FF/FG and the unionists would prefer a 23 + 9 option with the Dail and Stormont remaining. To get unionists to agree there will need to be some serious compromise from nationalists. Unionists will never agree while republican campaigns remain. You would be better spending your time trying to destroy the dissidents rather than partition because while the former remains so will the latter. Your outrage at Nolan brought no outrage at the murder of Izzy yet the people who did it continue to set back any move towards unity. It would have been nice if you had called it a murder rather than a "death".

Frankie's link showed that the people of the 26 are hardly champing at the bit for a UI unlike yourself. I fear you will not see a UI in your lifetime or be unhappy with whatever fudge passes for a UI. The Republic has been moving steadily closer to England over the last decade or two while Scotland moves in the opposite way. Brexit and the SNP may make for potentially interesting times constitutionally but I don't think republicanism is prepared for what might happen. You need to stop the pathetic "armed" campaigns and reach out to left thinking loyalists. Coercion will not work.

sean bres said...

Mark, the Good Friday Agreement cannot achieve a United Ireland. It has no means to do so and upholds a Triple Lock to prevent it being realised. Only the British Secretary of State can frame and call a Border Poll and Britain alone can effect its outcome. She need never call one and is not obliged to implement its result. It was a masterful negotiation by the British and explodes the myth that the current Sinn Fein leadership is the greatest in republican history. They were played like a fiddle and clearly out of their depth. I have no wish to isolate unionism by violence and seek a meaningful peace that includes them. The war is over but the violence we see at this time is the residual outworking of that war. I do not condone it but that is the reality regardless.

Peter, a nine-county Ulster can be set up within a United Ireland and that would be fine with me. As I've said elsewhere, if it should be necessary then the Six Counties can be devolved within such an arrangement instead, with the British identity of the Ulster Protestants guaranteed. Either way it should be guaranteed and that presents no problem as far as I'm concerned. We should not look at Éire Nua as inflexible. Its custodians present it as a template for discussion but something to be altered if needs be. Indeed they are open to suggestions. In that is an opportunity for those like yourself to contribute, to explain what further compromises would be needed to bring unionism onboard. I agree that an end to armed actions would present a useful start.

AM said...

Sean,

the GFA was not designed to secure a united Ireland. It was meant to be vague enough to allow those that wanted to a means to delude themselves that they get up every morning to go out to work for a united Ireland, must like a deranged atheist might delude himself he gets up in the morning to serve god. The leadership were not played like a fiddle because they knew where it was going from the outset, certainly those that mattered.

I exchanged views with senior British official once during a debate in England. He gave me plenty of time to make the point and even sent the mike back down so that I could come back at him. He seemed genuinely interested in the critique. After it I said to him "you shafted republicans." His response: "No. Republicans shafted republicans." There was no answering that.

So you are right, the GFA will not achieve a united Ireland. Nor will anything else. It is just the situation we are landed with. It is not the fault of republicans that they cannot achieve a united Ireland. The balance of political forces simply does not allow for it. We could tell everybody if they pray hard enough it might happen. But to persuade enough people to pray we would need to show a likely causal effect being praying and a UI coming about.

Having thought about it for years, I have yet to see anything that that can link proposed action to desired outcome. That is where republicans can be faulted: for not seeing an insurmountable strategic obstacle. Where the real success of partition lies is in the fact that it is a virtually impenetrable strategic circuit breaker. It is safely firewalled against republic strategic initiatives.

I still think the Societies should play the consent people at their own game. The logic of consent is that there is no logical reason for consent not to apply to a county rather than a truncated province. The six counties cannot nationally self determine because they do not constitute a nation: but they can self determine. And if a truncated province can self determine on a non-nation basis then why not a county?

The OIOV is hampered by the fact that it tries to challenge partition from without rather than within and is invariably fated to bounce off it. Maybe time to be a bit more insidiously corrosive of the Northern state.

Peter said...

Sean
A UI is clearly your obsession and I would recommend setting your sights a little lower. You and republicans in general come at this from a position of significant weakness as AM so eloquently points out. The only way I can see a UI is if the UK breaks up and England jettisons us. I really don't see any other way. Certainly there is nothing republicans can do by means of forcing it. I think that you would struggle to get 50% to go for it in the 26 let alone in the 6. So talk of Eire Nua and 23 + 9 are hypotheticals of hypotheticals. The micro groups keeping the physical force tradition alive in my opinion has a negative impact on any move for change. You should channel your energies there. The people of East Belfast buried one of their own this week, why would they even countenance talking about the future constitutional make up of the north with republicans?

Steve Ricardos said...

As Peter said, the sectarian murder of the PO has achieved nothing but more create more animosity toward republicans.

You may say it was not sectarian but to his family and his community, that is EXACTLY what it is.

sean bres said...

Kind of got sidetracked but for what it's worth I agree for the most part - further violence is not in the republican interest and new strategies need to go forward. It's why the Societies' project is important to me whereas those that went before were not, regardless of what value may or may not have attached to them ideologically. Not long after the Agreement I stepped away from Sinn Fein but not to go anywhere else. I could not because I've long recognised further armed struggle as strategically unsound.

For me the cessations were rightfully agreed, making way for a new phase of unarmed struggle. The trouble is the new phase never materialised. Where the mistake was made was not in ending the armed campaign but in failing to ensure what replaced it was bound by republican principles. For me then, any new campaign to emerge - be it OIOV or whatever - must be cognisant of a twofold reality: first, that the war is over and need not be resumed; second, that any political strategy moving forward must proceed from a republican analysis. There is nowhere for the republican analysis to sit or stand in the same room as the Good Friday Agreement. Our job then is to develop an alternative.

The task is difficult because, as Mackers has spoken of, such thinking attempts to work outside and around partition rather than within, crashing against it and the reality that it exists. We are outside shouting in and that for sure is the strategic conundrum we face. We will not though unlock the door by acceding to the Good Friday Agreement or empowering it as the sole arbiter of change. We must construct and empower an alternative narrative using peaceful persuasion and the democratic argument to do so.

We need those in that imagined room not to let us in but to come outside and join us in the fresh air. It's not only the Ulster Protestants we need to persuade, there is a legitimate argument that those in the 26-Counties, who are reasonably happy for the current arrangements to continue, need also be convinced of the need for change. A sizeable body of work for sure but to begin we must proceed from the correct position. To do otherwise is to end up at square one in ten or twenty years time. What a waste that would be.

Steve Ricardos said...

Sean,

"I could not because I've long recognised further armed struggle as strategically unsound."

Do you believe it is morally or ethically unsound also?

sean bres said...

Armed struggle is the right of a people when subject to occupation - most especially when it manifests in violence. To suggest it was morally wrong or unsound to resist occupation in Ireland, particularly in light of how that occupation was upheld (think the Burning of Bombay Street, Ballymurphy, Bloody Sunday), would be to describe it wrong when the French resisted the Nazis. There is no difference and it is fundamentally a racist paradigm - where such is permissible because it's Ireland and the Irish - which colours the argument to the contrary.

The Irish had that right and that right remains - just as it did for the French. It will always remain while Britain holds Ireland. The problem at this point is the presence of a minority in Ireland who consider themselves British. It can only lead to a further deterioration in the relationship with that minority should republicans persist with an armed campaign - a campaign in truth long ended. It's worth considering how the last campaign impacted on inter-communal relations and asking whose interest did this serve.

Ruairi Ó Bradaigh and others attempted at peace in the 1970s, only for Britain to tell them where to go. They didn't want peace. They wanted to prolong the war so they could better shape its outcome, employing tactics that could easily have fuelled all-out sectarian war. That they did not was largely down to republican restraint but the British would hardly have cared otherwise. We should not ignore these dynamics and how they work for the occupier. In effect we were playing their game, by their rules, while only the Irish suffered. Pardon my French but fuck that for a game of darts.

AM said...

Sean,

the right of a people? Or the obligation of a people with no right to both reject it and those who use it in favour of an alternative approach?

The Provisional IRA armed campaign can better be defended as a response to British repression than a campaign against the British presence. It avoids the problem of a self appointed body claiming to act on behalf of others when the others don't mandate them to act. The greater the repression of a repressive state the greater people will be of a reactive violent response.

sean bres said...

Tony, let there be no doubt that that is what occurred here and yes, of course the people have a right to pursue an alternative approach - especially should armed struggle prove strategically unsound or counterproductive. Indeed republicans tried to account for this did they not, both prior to the outbreak of war and when later realising it was not 'winnable'. And yet Britain continued the violence on both occasions. My view on what happened is that Britain employed a strategy of tension, manipulating all sides to further her own strategic needs by shaping a descent into chaos. Order out of chaos was the thinking behind it all and that it took Omagh to finish the job shows the thinking of the state when it comes to morality and ethics. None applies - pure and simple. Why then are we always talking about republicans regards these matters? That's rhetorical, there's no need to answer the latter point.

AM said...

Sean,

it is more than a rhetorical point even of thinking out loud rather than posing the question.

Republican ask because republicans are moral actors responsible for what actions they consciously choose over other actions. If republicans claim to respect the national will and if the national will is against the use of force what then should republicans do?

sean bres said...

Yes, you are right. We must hold ourselves to the highest standard - regardless the actions of others.

sean o'bro said...

@ AM

"The OIOV is hampered by the fact that it tries to challenge partition from without rather than within and is invariably fated to bounce off it. Maybe time to be a bit more insidiously corrosive of the Northern state."

Surely trying to tackle partition from within the parameters of partition is a bit like trying mend a broken leg from only one side of the break, a chara!?