What went wrong with Carillion, NHS etc = Privatisation of Public Services.

The BBC News are leading with “What went wrong at Carillion”. The governments propaganda wing are seriously asking what went wrong? Then they interview that horrible wee bollocks Michael Gove who actually said ” We will leave no stone unturned to find out what happened”. Where have you heard that before?
Michael Gove doesn’t have to travel far to find out what happened, at least two of the company directors ( annually paid £1.5 million & bonuses pre liquidation of £4 million) were advisors to Theresa May. The independent auditors KPMG need to be questioned, as do the directors who pocketed bonuses. The thieving bastards should be jailed.

But what went wrong & when did it all start going wrong? It all went wrong when successive British Governments started to pull apart what was once, one of the best systems of government.
When you privatise almost every element of the Public Sector, a public sector we all pay for & contribute to, what do you expect.
Not that many years ago the Housing Executive built, maintained & allocated houses. They employed Brickies,Joiner, Plumbers, Sparks, admin staff & they had proper contracts of employment including pensions, holidays, working hours and fixed term contracts. All of those staff were local & spent their money here. They bought houses, booked holidays, shopped here, retired here, spent their pensions here and left whatever they’d saved to the next batch.

Not that long ago, the NHS employed nurses, doctors, care workers, skilled maintenance staff, porters, ambulance drivers, paramedics and cleaners. The waiting times for surgeries were not at breaking point all year round, you didn’t have people stuck on trolleys for hours & yes sometimes you had to wait 4 hrs in A&E but not often. Agency staff were required when someone was ill or there was exceptional reasons, not on a regular basis like now. Almost every part of the NHS has been privatised in all but name.

Care provision is almost exclusively delivered by a multitude of private companies, some of which have charitable status ( the only charitable donation they receive is from the tax payer), some are called not for profits, which really means they pay themselves any profit and profit becomes overheads. Some deliver great services but that’s as much by accident as design. They employ people who need the work, they pay the absolute minimum and provide the minimum training. Remember this is to care for elderly, disabled & Young disabled children.
What went wrong is obvious, capitalist greed with your tax money is what went wrong.

All of these matters are devolved to Stormont by the way and measures could have been taken to address them, but it’s much easier to pay ridiculous amounts of money to consultants to tell Civil Servants(who could do the job better) what they already know. It’s lazy politics at best.
There is an opportunity to change it but it would require brave decisions, but decisions that must be made if we want a sustainable Public Sector that delivers the essential services we pay our taxes and rates for.
Nationalise all Essential Services, it worked before and can work again.


Attitudes Are Hardening And Its Time To Take A Breath.

There are many families here for whom the conflict has never ended and may never end. Families of former combatants – be they State Forces, Loyalists, Republicans or the innocents. The vast majority were innocent and the vast majority of families of all the above are still looking for Truth. When I was younger I may have been selective as to who was deserving of sympathy and I would still struggle to have sympathy for some. But I have learned to distinguish between the dead combatant and his/her family.

The people who are left behind are not guilty and I don’t have a right to judge they’re pain, anger or frustration. I don’t get to tell them when they should or should not be offended, I don’t get to tell them to get over it, move on or when to feel pain. The damage done to these families passes on to they’re children, grandchildren and in many cases to a whole community.

In the past week the Kingsmill families and community felt anger, pain, frustration on the anniversary of the deaths of they’re loved ones. They had every right to be angry and every right to demand an apology/resignations of the Sinn Fein elected reps they seen as making a mockery of they’re loved ones deaths. It is they’re pain and anger and no one should challenge that or try to play it down by making comparisons to the misdeeds of others.

I know Barry McElduff, not like best buddies know him but I worked in Stormont years ago and knew Barry through work and the odd yarn about the offices. He was a grafter and like myself a bit of a messer who enjoyed the craic, but when it came to work he was no fool.
I don’t believe for a second that Barry McElduff was intentionally mocking the victims of the Kingsmill attack. I genuinely don’t believe it’s in his nature, nor do I believe he would be so stupid to have intentionally mocked any victims.

Unfortunately the minute the victims seen that video they were hurt and whether it was intentional or not, the victims were angry. There was no amount of explanations or apologies that would alleviate that pain and like I said at the start of this, we don’t get to tell victims when to feel pain. The damage was done and I honestly feel Sinn Fein should have requested to meet/speak with the families and take direction from them.

I think three things made it impossible for Sinn Fein to force Barry to resign.

1. They knew Barry never intended to cause pain.
2. The DUP were already exploiting the situation by linking the perfectly reasonable anger of people in Kingsmills with other issues. They knew that even if Barry resigned, which would have addressed the immediate issues, the DUP would continue to exploit the issue.
3. If Barry McElduff had resigned it would have forced Máirtín Ó Muilleoir to do the same.

Anyone who thinks the three month suspension is the end of the matter doesn’t know Sinn Fein. The powers that be will be rightly furious that they were put in this position. When it comes to future selection I think Barry’s name will not be on the candidate list. I’ll get criticised on both sides of this by many and I could do without it, to be honest but unfair as it may be, I think Barry should have stepped down.
Regardless of DUP exploiting the situation, the victims families had to be the primary concern.

By not taking swift action, we are already seeing more hurt inflicted on the Kingsmill families. This time by Christopher Stalford a DUP elected rep who’s criticism while directed at Sinn Fein, will undoubtedly lead to further hurt. Sinn Fein are not responsible for the actions of the DUP but that’s not how these things play out. If it goes to form, it will lead to more disrespect, insults and more importantly pain for more families.

BBC Nolan Live Abortion Debate: Editorial Guidelines on Libel, Harm & Offence

I’m not legally qualified to determine wether the BBC broke the law and/or their own guidelines when a panel member accused another panel member of murdering her two unborn children.

I initially thought it strange that Stephen Nolan (BBC host) did not immediately challenge the accusation by saying, That is an incorrect accusation and Ms Holland would reject that assertion, AND I/We in the BBC would disassociate ourselves from that comment.

I thought this was strange because on a number of occasions I have heard Stephen Nolan interrupt a caller/contributor who has made unfounded allegations. This appeared to be carried out as protocol and the caller was disconnected.No attempt was made to correct Ms White or disassociate the BBC from her comments. Her accusation of murder was ignored & she was not asked to leave.

Ms Holland did not murder anyone and certainly wasn’t convicted of murder or specifically the murder of her two unborn children. By failing to refute that accusation or disassociate the organisation from the allegation, are they not abdicating responsibility for the panel member making completely

Could someone from the legal profession advise if the BBC are guilty of libel, defamation or complicit in those offences. They do seem to have breached their own Editorial Guidelines, see


I also think it’s worth noting that the BBC, by neglecting to challenge the murder accusation have deemed it acceptable to define abortion as murder.



Trump Won’t Condemn White Supremacists & Arlene Foster Feels Hurt When Called A Homophobe.

Today and over the past 24 hours we’ve witnessed the acceptance of racist hatred in Charlottesville Virginia. Last night in an open display of hatred white supremacists marched through a university campus with lit torches in a blatant act of intimidation towards anyone they consider unamerican. Today we seen another white supremacist March which was always going to end in violence, and ultimately ended in the loss of life.

The President has clearly refused to condemn white supremacist terror and even after his initial statement he refused to offer condolences to one of those killed and the many who were injured. His comments will be interpreted by the extreme right as tacit acceptance. He is very much aware and indeed was reminded by white supremacist leaders that he enjoys their support. This President is not known for tact or diplomacy when condemning anyone from North Korea, Muslims, Mexicans and even the media when he disagrees with them, yet he has refused to call white supremacists out on their actions. The fact he was elected says a lot about white America.

The burning torches last night were symbolic of the KKK. The car driving in to an anti racist protest a vivid reminder of the incident in Ardoyne when a young woman was injured in the same way for very similar reasons.

We also have hatred in this country on the grounds of national identity, sexuality, gender, racism  and women’s healthcare rights. It is no exaggeration to call this out as hatred, neither is it wrong to draw comparisons with the events in Charlottesville. The burning torches here are terrorist flags, bonfires, parades, attacks on people motivated by hate/ elitism/fear/ignorance and while not all bonfires or parades are wrong, or are designed to intimidate or cause trouble, those that are should be deemed unacceptable by government and the community. Racist attacks, obstructing and intimidating women/girls from accessing healthcare should also be unacceptable by any normal community or government. Homophobic hate crimes including incitement should  also be treated for what they are and should have no place in a normal society.

Unfortunately we too have political leaders  who have excused if not promoted discrimination and intimidation on all the grounds outlined above. We have our very own Trump in the form of Arlene Foster, who had the audacity to say she feels hurt when referred to as homophobic. She justified this comment by saying her opposition to marriage equality did not mean she hated Gay people. Arlenes comment may have had some credibility if as DUP party leader she took action against those members of her party who clearly are homophobic. To continue to allow Edwin Poots who illegally banned Gay men to donate blood, to remain in the party she leads, she is endorsing his views. By allowing Sammy Wilson to refer to Gay People as Poofs & Queers without any sanction, she endorses his views. By refusing to expel Jim Wells who has made so many hate speeches against the LGBT+ Community she endorses his views. She is there party leader and these are not comments of the distant past, though they’ve changed little. They are bang up to date views still being expressed by recently elected senior politicians and they promote hate and misplaced moral superiority.

Most of us are outraged at what happened and is happening in America today. Most of us are equally outraged by the hatred and discrimination that takes place here and many people are challenging it on a daily basis. More of us need too, just because we’ve got used to it, we should never miss an opportunity to challenge it. We have supremacists of our own and they have support for political expediency.


Will The Loyalist Community Council seek DUP Commitments For The Loyalist Community?

While political euphoria shifts from huge gains for Sinn Fein & the DUP to concerned  but almost amusing interest from the British public on the politics of the north, can we return our focus to the Six Counties/the north/N. Ireland/Ulster.

The Loyalist Communities Council issued a statement in support of Pro Union candidates and encouraged the Loyalist/Unionist community to vote in numbers across the board. There is no doubt that this statement had a massive impact and that the main beneficiaries were the DUP. Anyone who thinks the huge turnout of voters, even in the safest of Unionist constituencies was unrelated is, well, probably English.

I don’t want to misrepresent the LCC statement, it was about the Union and it succeeded. I do know more than a few Loyalists though and I’m aware of some of they’re concerns at the lack of support in working class Loyalist/Unionist areas. I would also guess they have more progressive views on a lot of the social issues than the DUP, but I suspect they’re primary concern is investment in areas they feel have been forgotten.

With that in mind will the LCC now issue another statement outlining their priorities  and listing some specific demands on how to address the deficits in representation of the Loyalist community. The LCC  have delivered, will they now ask the DUP to deliver, and will they share their expectations.

Investment in programmes to address lack of educational programmes, youth services, cultural programmes, LGBT+ , gender inequality, drug & alcohol addiction services, crime, illegal drug use and policing. I’m aware these issues are not confined to the Loyalist/Unionist community but I’m also aware that people working to address those issues in Loyalist areas feel they are being shortchanged and even demonised. I assume from the name Loyalist Communities Council that these issues are just some that you are passionate about and would suggest you get your list in ahead of the Tories. As you well know from experience, secret promises aren’t worth much.

There are legit people working in Loyalist areas and they’ll be looking to you. There are many who will say your just gangsters and hoods and while I know there are elements formerly under your control, who can’t/won’t move on, I also know you’ll need support to either challenge these people or isolate them and develop a confident Loyalist community who can get on with tackling disadvantage.

Again I’ll state, these issues are by no means confined to Loyalist communities but I’m not saying anything you haven’t said yourselves. Political Unionism has abandoned you repeatedly, don’t let them do it again. good luck.

Anti Brexit, Anti Tory, Anti Austerity, Anti Bigotry Pacts & Abstentionist Myths.

It’s sad and unfortunate but all the talk of  pacts in the past few weeks was really only a fraudulent attempt by the various parties to appear reasonable to voters. For a day or two it actually sounded genuine and there was a naïve hope that Politicians would sacrifice power in the interests of the people. Even when it became clear that the pacts had no chance, the parties still insisted they were exhausting all avenues in  an attempt to strengthen the remain cause. This of course has since been revealed as complete nonsense.

The sdlp decision to stand Martin McAuley in North Belfast and Mary Garrity in Fermanagh/South Tyrone shows that they would rather see pro brexit, pro Tory austerity, homophobic bigots elected (in fact, anyone but Sinn Fein). It shows a total disregard for the people who live in both constituencies. A disregard for the overall remain( special status) campaign, and a disregard for those who will suffer most under Tory austerity.  The LGBT+ community yet again must feel abandoned, women seeking at least some progress on reproductive rights must feel abandoned ( though a pact would not have guaranteed women the full reproductive rights they’re entitled too), and all of this potential progress denied for what. I have no idea who either sdlp candidate is and will not criticise them personally. They could indeed be excellent candidates but the point is, they have absolutely no chance of winning either seat. The only logical explanation is to stop Sinn Fein.

Ironically Alban Maginness said on BBC talkback this week that he didn’t know the Sinn Fein candidate John Finucane, and pointed out that the Human Rights Solicitor had no experience. Seriously Alban, it’s a good job the interview was on radio as you must have struggled to keep a straight face. John Finucane and the Finucane name is very well known in North Belfast and indeed right across Ireland. It’s also well known in Westminster, Europe and is globally recognised by Human Rights campaigners. He has represented people from all backgrounds on a multitude of Human Rights issues and has a better understanding of the struggle faced by victims and they’re families than most.

During the pact charade it was rumoured that a neutral unity candidate, that all parties could get behind was a possibility. I suspect the strongest unity candidate suggested was John Finucane and while I accept I’m no expert on some of the local difficulties in North Belfast, I would challenge the other anti brexit parties to come up with a better candidate. Apart from the attributes already mentioned, John is part of the North Belfast community, he is involved with the local schools, sports and aware of the issues on the ground. He is involved locally, nationally and legally in the fight for marriage equality, gender equality, cultural equality and victims equality. He comes from a mixed family with both Catholic and Protestant, nationalist and unionist relatives, and we need people with that awareness of the different perspectives.

While the sdlp and others  have every right to ask for your vote in these areas, it is up to the voters to decide wether to waste it on someone who has no chance, or someone who stands against progress,or simply vote for the candidate who best reflects your views, and has a very credible chance of winning.

The story in Fermanagh/South Tyrone is pretty much the same except that Sinn Fein has already proved it can win the seat, even with the sdlp standing a candidate. Again I don’t know Mary Garrity, but I’ve no doubt she is a good person and good candidate, but reality tells us that every vote for her increases the risk of Tom Elliot being returned to Westminster. The same Tom Elliot who campaigned to remain (quietly) and has changed to Brexit because he’s a democrat. A brexit candidate representing Fermanagh/South Tyrone of all places is worse than insane.

South Belfast is another constituency where an anti brexit candidate could almost certainly have won and it needn’t have been orange and green. It would break my heart but the best placed pact candidate would probably have been Alasdair McDonald and Sinn Fein could and maybe should have stood aside regardless of the sdlp actions in other constituencies. There was also an opportunity for a unity candidate and if managed properly by the other parties, Claire Bailey or Paula Bradshaw could have taken the seat. South Belfast voters could well take matters in to they’re own hands anyway. We can only hope.

Naomi Long could have made life a lot easier for herself by accepting support from the sdlp, Sinn Fein and the Greens in East Belfast , but again voters including many unionist remain supporters may take matters in to they’re own hands and vote against fear.

As for abstentionist candidates being unrepresentative during these crucial Brexit negotiations, further austerity measures etc, I would point out that to date the MPs in the Westminster chamber have had zero influence. Any special status for Ireland, north or south in the aftermath of brexit, will be negotiated and delivered by Europe and Dublin. There are actual opportunities to avoid a hard border at least in terms of the movement of people. The border would be at the northern airports but we need more than what’s been hinted at so far. To get more we need politicians who will fight for more. Michelle Gildernew is well versed on the agriculture brief and well versed on the difficulties a newly formed border would create.

Remaining on the abstentionist point it’s important to note that any MP would admit the majority of their work is done outside the chamber. In fact the bulk of the work is done in the constituency either representing constituents on localised issues, meeting with other elected bodies (EU, Dublin, Stormont, Councils, Health Trusts), Meeting with both local and international investors and meeting with a multitude of interest groups who are struggling under extreme Tory cuts.

The abstentionist argument against Sinn Fein falls flat when voters are aware that there is a full Sinn Fein team working round the clock in Westminster. I have personal experience of this as I accompanied a number of the Loughinisland families to Westminster, to meet with representatives of all the main parties. Sinn Fein facilitated the meetings and further meetings in Dublin, Belfast, Brussels and Washington. It was the abstentionist Sinn Fein who opened the doors for these meetings and significant progress has been made as a result. It is crucial that this work continues, particularly with the ECHR. Loughinisland is in South Down which has a sitting sdlp MP, yet for all their talk of taking their seats, not once did they show any practical support for the families.

So for all the talk of a unionist pact with parties who don’t even agree on brexit, and all the talk of a progressive pact with parties who agree on many of the outstanding issues, including brexit, it is down to us the voters to make the final decision. To the bigots – do your worst. To those of us who like to think of ourselves as progressive, wether we’re unionist, nationalist or other, forget the disagreements and vote for the progressive party who has a chance of winning in your area.

Civil Rights 2016 – The Issues Remain. Can We Put People Before Profit.


I read a post on Facebook today by one of the leaders of the original Civil Rights Movement – Eamonn McCann MLA.  The post was intended to highlight discrimination against Eamonn and his People Before Profit colleague Gerry Carroll by the Assembly Speaker. Both Assembly members were refused speaking rights on a motion on of all things Transparency & Accountability.

You know your doing something right when the system is afraid to let you speak, but I couldn’t help but wonder what sanction they could impose if you refused to be silenced. A few days out of the chamber or better still an apology, because at least with an apology you would have the opportunity to explain why. Just a thought that stems from the old civil disobedience days.

Eamonns article however went on to explain that he had wanted to raise the issue of the continued destruction of the…

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Bigots, Homophobes & Opportunists. Liars Unite?

DUP MP Nigel Dodds has just announced in Parliament that the DUP, SDLP, UUP & Alliance are ready to form an Executive today and exclude Sinn Fein.

If Nigel has this right and I didn’t hear anyone disagree, then we have to ask the smaller parties to outline what progress has been made on the many issues they campaigned for in their manifestos. Have the DUP secretly agreed to implement an Irish Language Act, Marriage Equality, Gender Equality, Truth for Victims and to accept the majority view of the north to remain in the EU.

I suspect they haven’t but would be delighted to be wrong. That leaves questions of these alleged Executive partners. Even without Nigel’s claims we have all heard the above mentioned parties demanding Sinn Fein stop holding up Government and nominate to an Executive.

The questions are really straightforward- what has instilled confidence in the DUP since you all supported a motion of no confidence in December? Do you really support Marriage Equality or is it aspirational? Do you really support an Irish Language Act or were you tapping in to the anger invoked by DUP comments? Do you really support the Truth for Victims? Do you really support Gender Equality & a Woman’s Right to Reproductive Rights? Do you really support Remaining in the EU or Special Status? If the DUP take a future Health Ministry will you support their ban on Gay Men donating blood?

The people who voted for you based on your manifestos have a right to answers on these questions. Only two parties I’m aware of have not been blaming Sinn Fein for the failure to form an Executive, at least not exclusively, and that’s The Green Party and People Before Profit. I voted for the Greens with a second preference for Alliance ( knowing it would transfer if needed) in the last election. Living in Strangford & with no PBP candidate my choices were limited. I seen both parties as progressive but I’m disappointed that Alliance are hammering Sinn Fein for the DUPs sins.

All parties need to clarify if Nigel Dodds statement is accurate and if so how they came to this agreement. If his statement is inaccurate I presume Parties will clarify their position.

More Talks: Will Smaller Parties Stand Firm Against DUP Bigotry?

Yet again we have new talks at Stormont and for the most part they are on the same issues. The media and some of the smaller parties are not unusually blaming Sinn Fein for the stalemate. Well some are blaming Sinn Fein and the DUP while ignoring the failures of the British Government, and ignoring the Irish Government altogether.

I say the same issues because for the most part they are and for the most part they were already agreed, but the DUP have refused to implement them and been provided the cover of silence by the Governments. New issues have also emerged but they are issues that require urgency and it’s only sensible to try and find a consensus on a way forward. Brexitt to be specific but I’ll come back to that.

Since the collapse of last weeks talks and Sinn Feins refusal to nominate, they have been criticised by the smaller parties for decisions made by Civil Servants. I would ask those parties what exactly they are suggesting? Should Sinn Fein nominate and go back into an Executive without any of the outstanding issues being resolved? To do so they would be reneging on their election commitments and coincidentally so would the other parties.

lets not forget the cause of the election and the background behind it. All parties with the exception of Sinn Fein called for the First Minister to resign over her handling of the RHI scheme. Sinn Fein tried to keep the Assembly up and running by firstly approaching the First Minister privately and then through an amendment which in real terms offered the DUP an escape route. When both were rejected they had no choice but to accede to the demands for elections by their own base, the wider public and indeed some of the other parties. At that point Martin McGuinness shut the shop and in doing so outlined the many examples of DUP bigotry, political mismanagement, arrogance and alleged corruption.

Martin by no means mentioned all of the various examples but he did make it clear there had to be a new approach to governing, that was inclusive and that deals made  were expected to be upheld.

So far Sinn Fein have maintained this position and I believe rightly so. I can see no logic at all in returning to the Assembly without a deal that resolves the outstanding issues. To do so would only guarantee another collapse and probably pretty quickly.

Just to outline some of the issues that Sinn Fein and most if not all of the other parties have taken issue with.

Edwin Poots held up the first attempt at Council mergers at considerable cost to all of us by interfering in the boundary process while he was a Councillor and the Minister responsible for the mergers. In any other jurisdiction that is a breach of the Ministerial Code and a clear conflict of interest.  All Parties opposed.

Edwin Poots as Health Minister imposed a ban on Gay Men donating blood in breach of Section 75 of the Equality Legislation and a court ruling. All Parties opposed.

Jim Wells claimed children in same sex marriages were more likely to be abused. All parties outraged.

Nelson McCausland as DSD Minister overseen the Red Sky corruption fiasco and again no sanction while in breach of Ministerial Code and conflict of interest. All parties outraged.

NAMA – Both the then First Minister Peter Robinson and Finance Minister Sammy Wilson nominate business men to the NAMA board, giving them a direct influence on decisions which were of no benefit to the Public (US) and the only beneficiaries were Cerberus. All parties outraged.

Misuse of the Petition of Concern on numerous occasions but most flagrantly in relation to Marriage Equality. Again denying the democratic process and opposed by almost all parties.

Blocking changes in Women’s Reproductive rights in relation to proposals by the Justice Minister on FFA. Again most parties supporting the change.

Blocking and announcing there would never be an Acht na Gaeilge despite previous agreements. Arlene Fosters refusal to follow EU legislation on the language while DETI Minister and Paul Givan announcing funding block on Irish Bursaries Scheme. Important to include here the blatant ignorance of elected representatives, not exclusively Gregory Campbell who repeatedly insulted the Irish language community. Again most of the other parties claim to support progress on this issue.

The RHI scheme overseen and managed/mismanaged by the then DETI Minister Arlene Foster, and continued interference in the scheme when she assumed the position of First Minister. This was a £480 million scandal and while we have heard from the DUP that they will cap this to reduce the impact, as we speak the cost remains the same. Indeed the costs may well increase with inspections, investigations, court cases, elections etc, all with no evidence to say the original estimate of £480 million can be reduced. All parties outraged and opposed and no change.

Then we have the DUP support for Brexitt which all other parties opposed, with the exception of People Before Profit who supported Brexitt for entirely different reasons. By extension the DUP have supported leaving the single market and the customs union. This will, no matter what anyone tells you mean a hard border which will cripple cross border business and agriculture in particular. Well it will unless the parties reach a consensus here for special designated status which the DUP are against and the other parties support.

As for the urgency to get Stormont up and running again, I agree. All the more reason for parties who hold common ground positions to speak with one voice. To simply lay blame on Sinn Fein for refusing to nominate can undermine the integrity of the smaller parties who on most of these issues, share the same view. It calls in to question the support they’ve shown on the common ground issues such as Marriage Equality.

Also on the urgency issue, we are hearing criticism of Sinn Fein for creating a funding crisis and decisions being made around youth funding, health etc. The civil service are not supposed to make political decisions, but don’t be fooled that decisions taken this week are anything other than political interference and self protectionism within the civil service. Policy decisions and priorities put in place should continue to be funded until the Locally elected politicians decide otherwise. This mad rush by senior civil servants to cut funding, cut jobs etc is not necessary. At least not yet, and if you think you’ve trust issues with politicians you’ll get your eyes opened when the back room boys (intentionally gender specific) go to town.



Irish Unity Advocates Need To Urgently Plan For The Practicalities Of Unity – Together.

On a day when the Uk Government has officially started the process of leaving the European Union, seemingly blind to the multitude of implications for its citizens I can’t help but wonder if we will be anywhere near ready to provide answers if a border poll debate was happening now.

I also believe recent events both externally and internally have accelerated the need for discussion.  The U.K. decision on Brexitt will have a huge influence on a border poll, the march towards Scottish independence will also have a huge influence, the recent election results again bring a sense of urgency to the discussion.

looking at the scale of work involved for the UK  in leaving Europe it is enormous. So enormous that all of the resources of Whitehall can’t give credible answers, or anything better than guess work to the government who are selling this.

If we are to promote unity as an attractive, viable choice we must be able to produce evidence based data that is better than guess work. If we are to win a border poll we need to be able to answer the questions of what a unified Ireland will look like, how it will work and how we will merge two completely different forms of government. We need to know how we will merge health, education, welfare, justice, policing, public services, infrastructure and the economies. That’s just for starters but it’s an indication of the job of work that needs to be done.

All of this needs to begin now and that’s before we even consider how we seriously accommodate the culture and views of those who identify as British. I believe that’s a separate job of work that is every bit as crucial and can only be done with the inclusion of all the complex versions of unionism.

I know many of the big parties will say we’re already doing this and I know from experience that some are. Well they’re doing some of it but they must realise they can’t do this alone.

What I’d propose is that if each of the various advocates are seriously prioritising Irish Unity then they need to consider a coalition. Not electoral pacts or party mergers but a coalition of people. Politicians, academics from various fields, community and social activists, legal experts on constitutional law – north & south, legal experts who specialise on various issues. We also need to reach out and include all forms of nationalism/republicanism – from the moderates to the militants. Catholic conservatives to  liberals, socialists.

The people who claim to want Irish Unity come from all walks of life. To name the obvious is a starting point – Sinn Fein, People Before Profit, Workers Party, IRSP, RNU, SDLP, Fianna Fáil & Fianna Gael. It is impossible to bring these people under one coalition in terms of ideology or the day to day running of the country, it would be equally impossible to be ready for the transition to Unity without all being involved.

The militants may say they won’t involve themselves in constitutional politics, Sinn Fein and other parties have they’re own agendas but they all have a common cause in seeking unity. Like I said if the real priority is unity then who wants to be the first to say no to such a coalition. Who is putting politics or ego above the bigger objective. There are loads of reasons not to do this and only one reason to do it, but despite our differences there is common ground on the objective and on many of the social factors. The common ground on social factors extends to unionism and the work needs to begin sooner rather than later.