Tuesday, 21 July 2009

"It isn't so much the repetition of these inanities that is so profoundly depressing..."

Regular commenter Gary has kindly sent me a link to John-Paul McCarthy’s article, in the Irish Independent, which offers a savage assessment of Gerry Adams ‘unity’ rhetoric.

“It isn't so much the repetition of these inanities that is so profoundly depressing, so much as the deep intellectual and emotional vacuity that lies at the heart of the non-analysis here.”

McCarthy unpicks the latest buzzwords to discover an ideology which has changed little since 1920. It is worth reading the piece in its entirety, if only to enjoy its author’s Sopranos inspired flourish. But perhaps its most telling passage examines the tangential role which Adams’ fantasies accord the pro-Union majority.
“The article once again emphasises "British policy" as the "key to unlocking the potential for this change to occur", and his references to Britain's "colonial past" are simply a coded way of denying the democratic basis of the unionist desire to go their own way in 1920, however imprecise the constitutional line-drawing was at that point.

So, having waded through the conciliatory references to dialogues with 'ethnic minorities' and Professor Brendan O'Leary's ecstatic theories of future Irish federalisation, we are left as ever with an argument that would have cheered Slab Murphy and Brian Keenan: Get the Brits to force the Prods into line; talk for a bit with them, then start pushing.”

It is a neat encapsulation of the notion that Ulster unionism is simply a misapprehension suffered by poor dupes who have been manipulated by colonialists into the communal delusion that they are British. It fails entirely to grasp the pertinent fact that it is the pro-Union majority in Northern Ireland who provide its connection to the rest of the United Kingdom.


Gary said...

The provisional republican attitude towards their fellow countrymen has changed little over the decades, at least however we can be thankful they are just verbally sniping instead of physically. Mind you, this talk of changing "British policy" is worth analyzing more. Is Adams basically saying, in more subtle ways that the consent principle can be undermined? A united (sic) Ireland by stealth? Sidelining the devolved partnership of Stormont which republicans have murderered so much for? (I wish I could put up a sarcastic smiley) Is he saying that our national government should be persuaders of so-called Irish unity? How utterly undemocratic of the man, mind you what do you expect from a man that does not yet understand the concept of democracy, a man that thinks two wrongs make a right. How utterly pathetic. Like every policy of the provisional republican movement it is doomed to failure.

O'Neill said...

It's not depressing at all from a Unionist pov to read of Gerry's latest campaign; those three main targets- the British government, the Irish government and last (and most definitely least for all true Shinners)the Unionist *community* in NI haven't changed over the last 40 years or so. Thankfully since the end of 90s that targetting has been of a rhetorical instead of a terrorist nature, but even so, if the same old stale themes haven't worked for over a decade, why bother repeating them now? Genuine question for any republicans reading.

The one sacrifice that SF has to have any chance whatsoever of progress towards their aim they're not prepared to make- the day they start pulling themselves out of (and upsetting) their communal and sectarian base is the day that they've made the first real step.

While they keep demonising the prods/Unionists/Brits for their cheek of simply being prods/Unionists/Brits in Ireland, then the UI is as far away as it's ever been.

BTW The Bard of Ballymurphy literary talent really is blossoming:

Gaw said...

It's an interesting and tricky challenge: how do you disabuse Adams and others from their belief that you (and other Unionists) are suffering from a form of false consciousness? After all, it's a closed system of belief - whatever you say is, in their eyes, pathological.

I'm beginning to understand why marching is so important: if you can't hear then look!

Perhaps you need a trusted and objective third party to shout out the message. Is Obama available?

O'Neill said...

"It's an interesting and tricky challenge: how do you disabuse Adams and others from their belief that you (and other Unionists) are suffering from a form of false consciousness?"

Not our problem though is it?
In fact, you could say it's to our advantage that Gerry and Irish Republicanism generally has such a low opinion of Unionism as a political creed and Unionist voters as individuals.

Anonymous said...


Republicanism has always underestimated the integrity - strength - of the unionist position right from day 1. They would never have believed, 90 years ago, that Northern Ireland would be as secure as it is today. Today they could not imagine the same 90 years hence.

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