Demographic Changes in the Six Counties (North of Ireland)

Donal donaloc at peterquinn.com
Wed Feb 13 17:22:20 MST 2002


[ bounced Feb. 12 due to technical problem. Les ]


Thanks to Xxxx Xxxxxx posted an article by David McKittrick, a pro-Unionist
columnist for the British Independent (owned by renowned anti-Republican Sir
Anthony O'Reilly - the richest man in Ireland - and yes, he did bow the knee
to the Brit queen). Whilst the content of the post is true (albeit subject
to some serious spinning), we have to ask the purpose of the piece.

It is known that preliminary census reports are coming out indicating 50-46%
splits in the sectarian headcount. Trimble has been unnerved by this and has
attempted to postphone their publication while he reassures his core
constituency and breaks the news gently to them. McKittrick has been
slightly disingenuous in saying that his figures are not based on the census
returns but on reliable sources (second-hand census returns). He has also
included a (true) argument that even in the circumstance where Catholics
outnumber Protestants this will not mean a majority for reunification. In
effect, he is reassuring Trimble's voters on an unofficial way.

The second point of the article is to rehash the Brit. Secretary of State
for the six counties' (John Reid) argument that the six counties are
becoming a 'cold house' for Unionists and Loyalists. This was a speech
written by a known British 'securocrat' for Reid, whether Reid was complicit
in this is not really that important, rather that the speech represented a
reaching out from British executive power to the hard-line Loyalists. That
US Special Ambassador to Ireland, Richard Haass, picked up on this speech is
typical of the man and his underlying pro-Unionism. In effect, the speech
offered political cover for Loyalists who are verging on a full-scale
sectarian slaughter - their current murder campaign being only the verge (I
think Danielle might have some useful statements to put out on this - they
were all over the Sunday papers?) This campaign seems to be part of the new
Unionist strategy to counter the rise of Republicanism - this strategy has
seen the opening of discussions between the UUP (the main Unionist party)
and UDA (the main Loyalist paramilitary grouping). McKittrick's article acts
as a justification for sectarian killings on the pretext that Loyalists are
feeling doubly encroached upon, both Politically and Geographically. It also
seeks to place sectarian marches by the Orange Order and subsequent
community resistance in a neutral position of only occuring because of
population changes. This is only partially true, before most Nationalists
had to keep the head down - particularly in places where they were in the
minority. Indeed, my grandmother used to watch their marches, whilst
harbouring very pro-Republican thoughts and knowledge. To put it in terms
the US activist would understand, we had a great deal of uncle-Tomism in us,
we were beaten down so low that sticking your head up was suicide and could
led to the community rejecting you. As an aside, I was talking to some older
characters who recalled how some local big Unionist land holders had to be
called 'Master' well into the 60s - much to my disbelief.

In any case, the demographic changes alone will not, IMO, bring about the
constitutional change we seek. As I have indicated before, we remain
focussed on the need to encourage a progressive current within Unionism to
develop - the latent support for it exists and just needs to be tapped. If
anyone has read any statements by Gerry Adams from the debate on the North
held in the WEF, his speech (this was well-covered at home) focussed on the
need to make a United Ireland somewhere that  Protestants could feel at
home. The next day Martin McGuinness pushed this same line. The fight is now
beginning for Unionist hearts and minds - that fear is what is driving
Trimble's hopeless dance and his briefing of his most select and friendly
journalists.

Is mise,

Domhnall.



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