Alasdair McDonnell got some flak last week for calling the DUP “bigots”. One of the Deputy Speakers in the House of Commons (I think it was Lindsay Hoyle) thought it was inappropriate but I dont think Alasdair was censured for it.
It was after all a charge about a political party rather than an individual.
While Nigel Dodds was all bluster about how offensive Alasdair was….reasonable people might think the SDLP Leader had a point and that as far as the DUP os concerned, it is long past the time when nationalists/republicans/socialists started “calling a spade a shovel”.
There is of course a letsgetalongerist website that chooses to believe that Peter Robinson is genuine in reaching out to Caholic voters. It suits their anti-naionalist agenda after all.
But unfortunately for the DUP, Nigel Dodds and Robbos admirers, the evidence of last week is that Alasdair got it absolutely right.
The DUP on Lisburn Council are refusing to dole out any power-sharing to the godawful Alliance Party who are now whinging about not getting their fair share. Oddly the Alliance Party is not whinging about having eight Assembly seats which “earns” them two Executive seats and SDLP (for example) has fourteen Assembly seats and one Executive seat.
I think we can take Alliances concern with “fairness” with a pinch of salt.
And we had a DUP MLA say that he had no trouble with the National Flag of Ireland being burned on Orange bonfires. It is he says part of CULTURE.
There we have it…back in December 2012, the DUP were involved in protests because the Bitish Flag was not going to be flying all year round at Belfast City Hall. Their CULTURE was under threat.
The thing about the Lisburn Council decision was “political”.
But the thing about burning Irish flags is that it is “personal”. It IS OFFENSIVE.
Lets not kid ourselves. Whether it is MTV Awards, City of Culture, Titanic or President Obama addressing over-enthusiastic teenagers! Norn Iron has NOT changed or even changing. Ten months of the year are presented as a norm and the mad Marching Season presented as something from a long-gone age.
In fact…its the exact opposite. Burning the national flag of Ireland IS the norm and Derry as a City of Culture is an unrepresentative piece of nonsense.
And what are we to make of the latest DUP statement on Integrated Education, to which they are now seemingly committed?
Why the conversion?
I suspect that the DUP care more about the future of unionism than they do for the education of wee Sinead in Coalisland and wee Niall in Poleglass.
There just isnt enough salt in the world to season the DUPs call for CatholiC Bishops to join the 21st Century.
The hypocrisy is shocking. The DUP and its Orange allies will be spending an entire month celebrating a 17th Century battle.
Fortunately for nationalists the marching season seems to be going ok so far with minimal trouble in nationalist streets/roads.
A lot of nationalists were initially sceptical but now are I think impressed by Dr Alasdair McDonnell’s leadership of the SDLP. What nationalists like, I think, is that he gives the impression of not worrying about media sound bites and spin and just *speaking his mind*. That kind of unvarnished plain speaking approach kind of refreshing in these days of the spin doctor . Seems to be doing well.
I think youre right.
The media dont like Alasdair. He has crossed swords with them more than once.
In calling the DUP “bigots” he immediately had most nationalists nodding their heads in agreement.
At the same time, it had the unwitting effect of drawing attention to the fact that Alliance and indeed Sinn Fein are closer to the bigots than SDLP. And the Marching Season is a month long dose of reality to set against ten months of Pretence.
A spin doctor would be less “in your face” maybe saying the DUP are “living in the past”.
re. “And what are we to make of the latest DUP statement on Integrated Education, to which they are now seemingly committed?”
The arguement for integrated education /one educational system – needs to be taken on its merirts – just because the DUP are in favour of it – does not mean it is not a good arguement.
The Catholic Church as it showed in its role in child abuse and it attempts to cover it up – is not a fit organisation to be anywhere near the eucational system – North or South – and educating children based on differnet versions of Chritianity is just bunkum.
If people want seperate education let them pay for it – just as they pay for private medicine. SF can change the curriculum to include the ‘Nat’ tradition – where and if it needs including. It is embaraasing that the most conservative political party in Ireland (the DUP) sounds more sensible than the Nat parties on the subject of education – with the boy Obama (as per the Newsletter) apparently supporting DUP policy.
If we want Unionists to ditch parading we should offer to ditch seperate education – ignoring our own divisive behaviour/ideology/policies looks – and is – hypocritical .
Whatever was owed to the church by the Plain Poeple of Ireland has been more that made up for by our tolerance of its behaviour towards the country’s children and their ocrchestrated cover up.
FJH – What is this ongoing fascination with Sluggerotoole – the boul Mick for all his MANY faults has to keep 2 set of poltical opponents on board -and in that regard does an excellent job – and allows even those who are banned (meself included) to check out what themmuns are thinking.
I think my fascination with Slugger O’Toole …or interest….or obsession….is primarily motivated by the fact that it is or attempts to be or thought to be THE Blog of Record in respect of Norn Iron.
It is claimed that it has no agenda.
I have an agenda.
I feel that Slugger is…at least….close to those that have an agenda.
While it is entirely appropriate that Slugger observes and comments on the “players” in Norn Iron, it is also proper to observe that Slugger O’Toole is itself a “player” and deserving of the same scrutiny.
Say what you like about Slugger, Mick Fealty at the end of the day is I believe from the CNR community and so berating/upbraiding/attacking him probably serves no purpose in terms of keeping him in the fold.
I dont do it for the sake of it.
And I would not hesitate to criticise a nationalist or praise a unionist.
I draw the line at saying anything nice about a letsgetalongerist.
At its best, I have absolutely no problem with Slugger…I think I have made it clear on several occasions.
I read the ToryGraph – mainly for the sport (and becuase I like ot know what the ‘enemy’ thinks) – but it is just the editorial and the frontpage headline which are the ToryGraph’s attempt to influence opinion – the rest of the (daily) Torygraph is analysis e.g. largely based on the facts – and varies little from the other British ‘qualities’.
I think your criticism of Slugger is over the top – even if it is made in your own (tinternet) house – unless you can identify a Slugger editorial / Front Page line?
Fenians and Prods both do blogs and there is no quota on blogs or comments. Claiming that there is an ‘agenda’ when a variety of views are put forward does not stand up in my opinion. The boul Mick depends on attracting both ‘sides’ if and when he fails in that regard then Slugger will return to the pack – as it stands it is (deservedly) the market leader.
Where the ‘money’ comes from is irrelevant in my opinion – Slugger is simply a place where people from rival camps come to sound off.
Or am I missing something?
I never look at the comment zone – low quality discussion. Stick to the main articles there. Mick in terms of the orange/green divide is, at the end of the day, a CNR, but I think the problem that a lot of people see is that he gives too much room to unionists and too little to nationalists.
Oh for God sake, this is nonsense. Fealty may come from a Catholic confessional background but he is hostile to nationalism / republicanism.
President Obama is a hypocrite sending his own children to a Elitist fee paying Quaker school. While his party tell others to send their children to public schools.
The ultimate Irony was Obama, whom I like, standing in Mandelas prison cell talking about how incarcaration could not break the Human spirit. A visit to Cuba may be in order perhaps?
Also, I am sorry but I was educated by Christian Brothers. I know that they, and other catholic church bodies, provided an education to generations of Irish children when no other option was available. I respect that.
What is the hallmark of the points against integrated education above – is that FJH and Hobo and now you criticise the person/people making the points – the DUP and their political ally on this ie – the boy form Offaly(ie Barack) – rather than addressing the actual issue.
We (Nats) are keen to tell Unionists when they gey get it wrong e.g. with their funny ways e.g. parading but if it an issue with our own side – ie segregated education we become all protective of our own funny ways.
Those poeple on the census who filled in a box saying ‘Northern Irish’ (the dont knows/didnt say on Nat Identitiy) are not likely to be won over to an Ireland that looks to the church to get so involved in its educational affairs – and a chuch which has a disgraceful record in that area. This is not a few bad eggs – but insitutional abuse over decades which is arguably still being covered up.
I too went to a Catholic school – where there no abuse and dedicated clerical teachers – but the Church as an insitution has perpetrated sexual abuse on scuch a scale and covered it up that it has shown itself NOT FIT OR PURPOSE.
… but even if the church was not involved in such criminal deeds it should be the apsiration of Republicans to educate ALL Irish people in the same classroom irrespective of the views of the various magic-men.
I remember in my early days on Slugger O’Toole…I used to mention in threads that the person being quoted etc on an original post belonged to this or that organization, wrote for this or that newspaper…etc.
For me…when a point is made….it is entirely justifiable not just to address the substance but to consider the source…WHO is saying this and WHY.
Mick Fealty and Sheldon himself to reprimand me for this.
For them, the only relevance was the SUBSTANCE.
Thus it is entirely justified to consider that PETER ROBINSON of all people is suddenly interested in ” Integrated Education”.
It would be downright careless NOT to consider the SOURCE.
WHY is Robinson saying it?
its entirely reasonable to say that Robinson believes that it furthers a unionist agenda when demographics dont look great for them.
Now of course there is a genuine dilemna for some.
Should the desire for Integrated Education and a settled society set back nationalist aspirations.
Are nationlist aspirations entitled to trump the desires for a settled society.
I dont think we can have it both ways.
FJH integrated education can be good for a UI if it is done with enough nationalist inputs.
re. “President Obama is a hypocrite sending his own children to a Elitist fee paying Quaker school. ”
I think if you are President/Head of State you should be afforded a few privleges.
Any comment on the actual issue – i.e. that the DUP are aligned with Obama and Nats are aligned – on this issue, with an ultra-conservative, right wing, religious group which enacted and covered up sexual abuse on an industrial(school) scale.
An ultra-conservative, right wing, religious group which is still trying to interfere in the politics of the South (on abortion) – if they were a secular organisation they would be arguably closed down by now and their leaders arguably in prison.
It wasn’t so long ago that the DUP’s political allies were Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms in the USA. I believe Ian Paisley Junior was an admirer of Bob Jones Junior he of the infamous University maybe he still is. As for Obama he is such a lightweight. Just a spokesman for illegal and unjustified wars. And if the Catholic Church is unfit to run schools so is the British Government with it’s endless warmongering in Iraq and Afghanistan and now Syria and human rights abuses including helping the CIA to torture people in other countries.
re. “And if the Catholic Church is unfit to run schools so is the British Government with it’s endless warmongering in Iraq and Afghanistan and now Syria and human rights abuses including helping the CIA to torture people in other countries.”
It is ridculous to sugggest a comparison in the suitability of the (British) state in the prevision of education becuase their foreign policy is unethical with the Catholic Church who have systematically abused thousands of children and covered it up – it is doubly ridiculous becuase Nats actually control Education in both the South and the North of Ireland.
The Belfast Telegraph has been getting on it’s high horse in recent days on the subject of integrated education. It’s editor Ed Curran has sought to lecture parents who send their children to Catholic schools. The key question in education is are parents allowed to send their children to a school of their own choice? Or will they be forced to send them to a School the Government tells them. It wasn’t so long ago the Belfast Telegraph was running a campaign to save local Grammar Schools. It seems to Mr Curran that middle class parents are entitled to send their offspring to a school of their own choice. Yet Catholic parents are not allowed to choice a Catholic School for their offspring. Most parents want what is best for their children. The only people who fully support integrated education are in the APNI. The DUP have been making friendly noises towards integrated education in recent times but many see this as dishonest. Others such as the dregs of society that used to make up the Workers Party give support to the integrated education movement.
In sort, what they want is thousands of Rory Mc Ilroys.
Exactly….the new kind of “Castle Catholic”.
Id tend to go with “Carryduff Catholics”
“for me…when a point is made….it is entirely justifiable not just to address the substance but to consider the source…WHO is saying this and WHY.”
Yes it is justifiable but NOT at the expense of the issue itself – you and BD and Hobo all concentrated on the messenger rather than the arguement itself.
re. “Now of course there is a genuine dilemna for some. Should the desire for Integrated Education and a settled society set back nationalist aspirations. OR Are nationlist aspirations entitled to trump the desires for a settled society”
This is the problem – (some) Nats dont think they can win the arguement without(Catholic-School) indoctrination – and that is why sensible Unionists will sleep soundly in their beds with a smile on their chops. That was fine in the days before tinternet but hoping to keep your electorate dumbed-down is not a forumula for winning hearts and minds for a UI these days.
We can’t win a UI with Catholic schools. Their intake has never exceeded 50% of the North population; it remains below 50% and is declining because some CNRs are opting for integrated or state. Time to do as you say and have nationalist-flavoured integrated education. Can only be good for the case for a UI and for nationalists. And it would call the unionists bluff and be bad for unionists.
founded primarily on sectarianism”.
Mrs Robinson also said the integrated lobby was discouraging support with the “high handed and arrogant stance perpetually adopted by its public proponents”.
She added that it thrived off sectarianism and was part of a wider programme of social engineering driven by government.
Mrs Robinson’s comments were made after government rejected a proposal for a new integrated post-primary school – Rowallane College.
She said the philosophy of the integrated lobby “consists of nothing else other than self-righteous, pompous claims of reconciliation, no more amazing than claiming they can fit 200 people into the back seat of a Mini”.
“Far from transcending sectarianism with some stupendous alternative for the provision of education in Northern Ireland, the integrated lobby is an integral part of that sectarian system and feeds off it – without it, it would starve and die,” she added.
“It is a philosophy founded primarily on sectarianism, as opposed to the delivery of education and is part of a wider programme of social engineering driven by the government and abetted by the holier than thou section of our population.
“I will, therefore, never act in such a fashion as to further jeopardise the delivery of education to the overwhelming majority of our children, simply to please the politically tainted demands of the tiny minority.”
Yet her husband now wants us to believe he wants a shared education system here. Pull the other one Peter it’s got bells on.
Sammy makes interesting points. If nationalists were to take up the cause of integrated education it would catch unionists off guard.
Nationalists may in future years be badly served by Catholic education. The numbers of CNR people choosing Catholic schools is declining somewhat with more CNRs in integrated and even state schools lately. It could be better for nationalists to have proper integrated education with a nationalist flavour introduced into state schooling. The education minister should maybe take note.
We can’t allow the flaming unionists to take the high ground on this, as defined by Obama.
I dont normally agree with others – but your astute observations on the wisdom in my words leaves me will little choice.
What we want is education that reflect Irish values – and that in the context of 32 counties – means Nationalism is of course given its fair share of time – as is Prod culture and includes the anglo-irish view of Myers which respects the British influence – a lot of which is/was positive.
That has nothing to do with religion and to be fair to SF they are working on the 32 county bit – they just need to getup to speed with the secular bit.
For years, the DUP opposed integrated education but for some strange reason, has suddenly come round to the idea. Actually, they haven’t. We all know what they are at and it’s too little too late.
Ah, children should all go to the one school story.
Now in what country would i have that old chessnut before.
Oh i forgot, the country just off the Antrim coast.
Usually said by knuckle draggers and the loony left.
And of course some of the loony left with money will quietly send the kids along to the local or nots so local fee paying school.
But the rest of joe public who don’t have the money for a fee paying school or a nice area in the burbs can take their children’s chances at the local comp.
And then cross their fingers.
But hey as Peter the Piper says, all kids should go to the one school.
Wonder what Scottish newspaper he got that one from.
Yet again, we have the supposed British DUP being much less British than the British. How full of the airwaves were British media sources of people moving houses, lying about their religion just to get Tristam in to a faith based school because they produce results way above the state, secular system?
At this point in time, save for republican dissident, it is solely unionism that is causing division in our society. I can only presume that the shinners are joining this game for the sake of the 26 county optics. My partner’s child god to an integrated secondary, a high profile one ( she also went to an integrated primary) and quite frankly, I wouldn’t send my dog to it
Not once in my CBS education was anything said bad about any other faith but they taught me to think and that life was fek’n tough and to sharpen up. I’d call that a pretty good education, vastly better than my partners’s child’s, Pollyanna education.
You inadvertently make an interesting point: on the whole the British in GB would not favour a religiously segregated system. On the whole, the system there does not have the divisive impact that it does here, for obvious reasons that it is not just about religion in the North, its about other things too. Ask someone from England or Scotland if they consider it desirable to have separate faith schools for Muslims ….
The interesting thing there is that Robinson attacks Catholic schools and the liberal unionist-letsgeralongerist websites like Slugger O’Toole applaud his vision.
But if Nigel Farage attacked Musliim faith schools in the same way, he would be called an intolerant racist.
I dont know enough about England and Nigel Farage-UKIP to know how they really feel about Muslims (at best a faction within UKIP are not very nice people) but Ive watched Peter Robinson for four decades and Im not convinced of his affection for Catholicism and Catholics.
UKIP attack European rather than Muslim immigration; they seek to avoid being charged with racism.
There is an underbelly to UKIP.
There is an underbelly to the DUP.
How many DUP MEPs, MPs, MLAs, councillors or voters went to a Catholic school?
James, schools don’t cause decision. There’s a pantheon of things that do but schools ain’t one of them.
Go and watch The Men Who Won’t Stop Marching and tell me how much Jordan’s issues are to do with his school Vs his family and community.
I would argue that they do facilitate division, and they stand in the way of healing that division.
Sammy McNally inadvertently makes astute points when he argues that we as nationalists should move forward on this. Otherwise we will not have a say in integrated education and we will see more CNRs going to them.
I take a lot of points on board.
There are essentially three nationalist/republican views here.
Sammy and others…legitimately…disagrees with Catholic education in schools. As a REPUBLICAN who believes in the primacy of the REPUBLIC, we will all have sympathy with that view.
Others…myself included thinks that Catholic education underpins Nationalism in Norn Iron.
Others are perhaps neutral.
It is perfectly reasonable for nationalists to have three different views.
But Politically, Nationalism needs a single view ..albeit nuanced in Sinn Fein and SDLP.
For me..its simple. Those of us with three opinions have come thru the system and that in itself “proves” that most who come thru NORTHERN Catholic Education end up nationalists.
The second thing is that it is the ENEMIES of Nationalism/Republicanism/Socialism/Civil Rights ….Peter Robinson of all people who wants this.
‘Otherwise we will not have a say in integrated education and we will see more CNRs going to them.’
There simply isn’t much prospect of this. Fact is, the Catholic grammar schools and CBSs in NI are some of the best schools on earth, while the Catholic-sector high schools also provide a high-quality education for the less academically gifted. Parents in England have to network, flatter, move house, beg, borrow and lie to get their children into the kind of schools we take for granted here.
Meanwhile, the integrated sector simply isn’t anywhere near the same standard, in terms of outcomes. Anecdotally, I know of a couple of integrated primary schools that quite frankly are hair-raisingly terrible schools.
So Catholic parents who send their children to integrated schools are sending their children to inferior schools. Some parents will do so because they think it’s the right thing to do, or because it fits with their ideological impulses, or because it flatters their moral vanity, or because they live in an area were Catholics are a vulnerably small minority. But I doubt the numbers will increase beyond this small demographic while the Catholic sector continues to deliver the goods.
Billy, the proportion of CNRs in Catholic sector schools has been in gradual decline for some time now.
re. “For me..its simple. Those of us with three opinions have come thru the system and that in itself “proves” that most who come thru NORTHERN CathFor me..its simple. Those of us with three opinions have come thru the system and that in itself “proves” that most who come thru NORTHERN Catholic Education end up nationalists.”
We dont need a Catholic system post GFA – we may/did need one before but WE now run education. if we are afraid to listen to 2 points of view in order to convince people of the merits of a UI – its not worth having.
In a community where religion feeds dangerously into ideological division as in Northern Ireland – defending segregation in education looks like a very unhealthy attitude – which opens up Nats to charges of bigotry and undermines their own accusations of bigotry against themmuns.
Expecting derpessingly the DUP to major on this and Nats to continue with ‘it never did me any harm’ and ‘I dont like like it because themmuns do’ pishpoor and embarassing responses.
You inadvertently make a good point Sammy. Its important that nationalists be on the right side of history on this and not be charged with blocking it. Hence we must be seen to be constructive, while at the same time making sure that nationalist values and nationalist culture is taught in the schools.
‘we must be seen to be constructive’
Who are ‘we’? And by whom must ‘we’ be seen to be ‘constructive’? Constructive to what end?
‘Its important that nationalists be on the right side of history on this and not be charged with blocking it.’
Charged by whom? In what way does the Catholic education sector ‘block history’?
With respect, your reliance on blandishments suggests to me that history is not your strong suit. If it was, you wouldn’t be quite so cavalier about giving away the single most important institution that northern nationalists possess.
If you want to send your children to school with Prods, please do so and stop interfering with the right of Catholics to send their children to schools owned and controlled by their church.
Why not ban the Catholic Church.
Oops, that was tried before.
Hi FJH. Long-term fan, first-time poster, and refugee from The Other Place.
We have three different education systems in the north: Catholic, state and integrated. Of these three, the Catholic sector has for decades produced the best results. And the education system in NI has long been a market-leader in the UK league tables, so there are strong grounds for arguing that the Catholic schools in NI are the best anywhere in these islands. This is particularly remarkable given that in Catholic schools in NI you’ll find a level of integration in terms of social class which has no analogue anywhere else in these islands.
I’d go further and add that the state education system here, which also produces excellent outcomes, would not be half as good as it is, were it not for the Catholic sector setting a pace with which it must keep up.
Yet apparently, there are those who think the Catholic sector should be abolished? Are there any educational or pedagogical arguments for this, or are they all purely for reasons of politics and social engineering?
This is about bringing the CNR community wholesale into the British doctrinal system. It’s also about asserting that the reason for sectarian division in NI is the existence of nationalism, and peace/harmony can be achieved by removing nationalism from existence. In a way, the analysis of educational integrationists is the same as that of the UDA, except that the UDA strategy is to murder nationalists, while that of the Letsgetalongerists ™ is to indoctrinate them.
No nationalist should accept the premises of the argument nor fall for this gambit.
Nor should anyone who cares about maintaining the high standards in education here generally allow ideology (and half-baked ideology at that) to drive them to break up a world-leading system.
Nationalists who think the state sector can be made more Irish / nationalist, on anything more than the most cosmetic level, are kidding themselves. Look around you: most of Northern Ireland’s major public institutions are packed full of Catholic staff, but their nationalism / Irishness finds little or no expression at institutional level. They have to leave their national, political and cultural allegiances at home, in a way that their PUL colleagues do not.
Do you know many Catholics who went to state schools? I know quite a few. They’re not all from Holywood, but they’re almost all ‘Holywood Catholics’. It’s logical that they would be. The state-run system has as its objective the production of good British citizens. It does its job. So go ahead, abolish the Catholic education system, bring in a single, state-run system. Give it twenty years. We’ll all be Holywood Catholics then.
Someone said earlier that Catholic education will not deliver a UI. Quite right, it won’t. But abolish the Catholic education sector and you’ll make it impossible forever.
I think you make two excellent points.
UDA murder Catholics…LetsGetAlongerists indoctrinate Catholics.
And your final paragraph…there is really no way that Catholic Education DELIVERS a United Ireland but giving it up…to Peter Robinson of all people …sets back Irish Unity.
The case for a UI is strong. Segregated education I think sets back a UI by making society more divided.Integrated education allows a UI to be argued for because the society will be less divided. Less than 50% of people go to Catholic schools and the number sadly is falling. Hence I think we need to get nationalist ethos into integrated schools.
On the subject of substance and source, or what on Slugger they call the Ball-Not-Man rule: it sounds good on the surface, and I understand the logic.
But in practice, to discuss what’s being said without reference to who’s saying it (and therefore, why they’re saying it) just turns out to be a liars’ charter.
My “background” is History and SOURCE is everything.
Who is saying this?
Why are they saying it?
Its basic stuff. And frankly I never understood Slugger decreeing it was (if it suited them) not relevant.
I think the bit in brackets (‘if it suited them’) hits the nail on the head. It’s a useful technique of control, if applied selectively.
I think Sluggers rule on “Relevance”, “Respect” and “playing the man” are all covered by “when it suits them”
Doing what suits them and adopting a holier than thou attitude is not Sluggers most endearing feature.
That should have said division, not decision.
Funny that a party that boasts about so many Catholics supporting the statelet, see their education system as divisive. Quite odd. Of course, many of its members will be marching in sectarian parades but there’s no way that causes division.
Good post with lots of interesting opinions expressed underneath. I tend to Sammy’s view on education in the north-east, the same as I hold for the rest of the country. Religion and education shouldn’t mix and my republicanism in the civic sense would be much more French in terms of the public sphere (interestingly Pádraig Mac Piarais supported secular schooling and only enlisted Church support for Scoil Éanna in part because of his history of clashes with the RC hierarchy when editing the newspaper An Claíomh Solais).
Frankly I oppose any type of denominational schooling. All schools in Ireland should be a-religious institutions, free of faith-teaching. Let that occur at home or at weekends if families so choose. I no more want state-funded RC schools in Ireland than I want CofI or Moslem ones.
I do appreciate Billy’s view that so far there is little reason to have any confidence that a “shared” education system would have an Irish or All-Ireland element (one suspects that Unionists would try and corrupt any such element to a partitionist “Northern Irish” one). Instinctively I share Sammy’s take on it but with I’d remain sceptical about a 50/50 Irish/British curriculum. Furthermore would that create young Irish and British citizens or schizophrenic Irish citizens who would default to becoming British ones?
As a suggestion would a dual-education system be a possible response to the drive for “integrated education”? That is schools funded entirely by the “state”, with no denominational role, but along Irish and British lines. In other words some schools would follow the Irish curriculum and some would follow the British one but would not be, in strict terms, RC or Protestant (state) schools as such.
Thats n interesting thought.
But the problem with Integrated Education…and I am basing this, in part on last weeks Platform for Change event….is that everyone wants it but then everyone reverts to a highly individual preferred system.
Every Republican believes in the primacy of “the” Republic….wherever the Republibc happens to be. United States for example we all would support seperation of State and Church.
BUT …as with so many things, Norn Iron is different.
There is no Republic in six of our counties.
The next best option to a Republican system…is NOT …in my view…ANY kind of British or British-leaning system.
So “dual education” or some other media-friendly nomenclature then? Schools free of any religious culture or identity and funded directly by the state (or regional government in fact) but individually opting for either the Irish or British curricula as a medium of education? Would that be doable?
I cant see that unionists and letsgetalongerists would agree.
They are NOT attacking catholicism.
This is an attack on nationalists….catholics is just the label.
Oh I love a good row!
Firstly, shortly after you made an intervention (both extremely telling and extremely funny )on my behalf on Slugger – I got oxtered-oot for contiunuing to press my case with Mick so a belated thanks for that. (If I find the link I will post it )
Secondly and niceities aside, you state “But in practice, to discuss what’s being said without reference to who’s saying it (and therefore, why they’re saying it) just turns out to be a liars’ charter.”
That remark came on the back of my exchange with FJH criticising him, BangorDub and Hobo for concentrating solely on the messengers(Obama and the DUP) rather than discussing the merits of the case for one/integrated/state education. I take it you would agree that solely concentrating on the shortcomings/dislike of/ suspicion about the messenger can often
be (rightly) seen as simply an arguement of convenience designed to conceal a prejudice or a weak position?
In relation to the substantive issue, whatever is good about the way the Catholic education system is run should not be surrendered and does not have to be surrendered in the process of merging-integrating with other sectors – with SF in charge of education and able to retain that portfolio going forward(as Unionists wont pick it first) the ‘other’ sectors should be brought in line
with best practice – that should be the aim in any civilised society.
I suspect that SF will come up with a set of reforms of Northern Education which will nudge it closer towards greater coincidental ‘similarity’ with the Southern system in terms of examinations which may well lead to a serious showdown with the DUP.
Your statement “Nationalists who think the state sector can be made more Irish / nationalist, on anything more than the most cosmetic level, are kidding themselves. Look around you: most of Northern Ireland’s major public institutions are packed full of Catholic staff, but their nationalism / Irishness finds little or no expression at institutional level. They have to leave their national, political and cultural allegiances at home, in a way that their PUL colleagues do not.”
Nationalists have signed up to the GFA – which means making Northern Ireland a place where ‘both traditions’ are reflected and unless you are arguing it (the GFA) has been a failure then I think Nats should have the self-confidence to influence ‘institutions’ which in theory they
have the power to change – if your statement above was accurate I dont think we would be looking forward to visiting Bobby’s memorial shrine. For Nats to argue to keep children apart based on a tiny difference in a Chritian sect is both silly and unnecessarily defensive and puts us on the wrong side of the arguement just like Unionists seem to like to be with Climate Change and Gays.
Nat principle should be to remove demoninational religion form schools whilst retiaining existing standards and insisiting on Irish national ethos – if and when Unionist reject that – we can justifiably say thanks but no thanks to change.
re. “You inadvertently make a good point Sammy. Its important that nationalists be on the right side of history on this and not be charged with blocking it. Hence we must be seen to be constructive, while at the same time making sure that nationalist values and nationalist culture is taught in the schools.”
You know you have something badly wrong when the DUP is sounding more ‘constructive’.
re. “Religion and education shouldn’t mix and my republicanism in the civic sense would be much more French in terms of the public sphere ”
The French attitude to religion in schools is presumably similar to UKIPs (who are an easy diversionary target) and now that Nats have a say in and actually run education in the North we should be adapting to suit Nat requirments i.e. an Irish ethos.
ps didnt know that about Pearce’s support for secular schooling.
Would love to see that link, if you can dig it out?
Of course I agree that it’s cheap to shoot the messenger. But one can’t always be oblivious to the source either. Judgement must be used. A blanket rule such as Ball-Not-Man is fine in theory, but in practice, it’s a Liar’s Charter.
The rest of your argument is, again, fine in theory, but I think it underestimates the power of the British doctrinal system, which would be unleashed on nationalism. I think it overestimates the power of SF to resist that power. SF is no match for the British state, but the Catholic Church is.
Can you guarantee that, in a single education system, Catholic would get fair play? Please, spell out the GUARANTEES. I am not interested in pious platitudes.
Robinson should be asked what he means by shared schooling. Does he mean Lagan College or Hazelwood integrated schools that were set up as integrated schools? Or does he mean Saint Columbanus College or Saint Malachys in Bangor set up as Catholic schools but have become almost 50/50 catholic/protestant through a range of factors? I believe he means Catholic children going to State schools and closing down all the existing schools. I could be wrong.
Your argument is fine in theory and would be compelling in the context of an academic seminar. I endorse your sentiments. But when you look at the actual world in which we live, the reality is, as FJH points out, that we in the north don’t live in a republic, and no republican system is on offer here. Any state system will reflect the state in question. So our choice in NI is between a Catholic system and an imperial one. I choose to retain the former.
I’ll admit, I’m not against denominational schooling. The fact is that as an institution, the Catholic Church has an educational record which outstrips any state system ever devised. Even in rich countries like England or the US, the Catholic schools are much sought-after, and provide a standard of education that otherwise would only be available to the rich. And in poor regions like Latin America and Africa, the Catholic Church provides the only education available to the impoverished masses – just as was the case in this country, not so long ago.
It’s no mystery why Catholic schools particularly, and faith schools generally, produce superior results. There’s a culture of education within the Church that simply isn’t replicated in the state system. (I daresay any state system.) I know of instances of one or two priests turning around whole schools. In contrast, I’m sure we all know dedicated teachers in the state sector who’ll tell you of their struggles against institutional malaise.
You just get a far more powerful sense of urgency from teachers and administrators when they think they’re saving souls (or perhaps just equipping their young people to protect themselves from a hostile state / society) than you’ll get in a system that’s all about meeting targets and producing quiescent fodder for the economy.
Personally, I like the idea that my kids’ teachers will be people of professional vocation, and with a real sense of mission, operating within an institution that doesn’t stifle them.
‘All schools in Ireland should be a-religious institutions, free of faith-teaching.’
Would you choose to send your child to a crap secular school over an excellent faith school?
‘…would that create young Irish and British citizens or schizophrenic Irish citizens who would default to becoming British ones?’
All the resources and energy at the state’s disposal would be channelled into ensuring it would be the latter. Without the church as an institutional counterweight, nationalist resistance to the Britishification of Catholics would be overcome in time. (And remember how powerful the Catholic Church can actually be. There’s been a lot of talk here about Obama’s remarks last week, but much less about how he had rowed back on them, after getting a belt of the crozier back home. As part of the Catholic system, we can defend ourselves against US presidents. Outside of it, we’ll struggle to defend ourselves from DUP leaders.)
‘…would a dual-education system be a possible response to the drive for “integrated education”? That is schools funded entirely by the “state”, with no denominational role, but along Irish and British lines.’
But this wouldn’t be integrated at all, so what would be the point? Just to drive the priests out? What would this achieve? It might make you feel good on some ideological level, but the cost would be a drop (probably a collapse) in standards. Would that be worth it?
Sorry for going on so long, by the way. I have an unusual amount of time on my hands today. Will strive for greater brevity in future.
Shared future/ integrated education? I have a question.
How can we teach kids the value of the idea if we, as parents and grown ups can see through the whole nonsense?
Mr Dub….you will be taken to a re-education camp and letsgetalongerists will convince you of the error of your ways.
They are trying, believe me! lol
There is a logic in the argument that Nationalists should adopt a Borg-like attitude to regional institutions in the north-east of the country: “We are the Irish – you will be assimilated” 😉
However I share Billy’s caution, though without the Church-based educational considerations.
If parallel but equal systems of education could be sold there are plenty of European precedents (as An Piarsach saw in Belgium in the early 1900s). That is if the main concern is eradicating religious sectarianism. If the main objective is eradicating an Irish identity from the North of Ireland that would be readily apparent in any rejection by Unionists/Partitionists/British Assimilators.
I see your points but I disagree that faith-based education is superior to secular. I would also point out in return that the RC Church is NOT an Irish Nationalist institution and is only accidentally so in the context of “Northern Ireland”. The Church’s concern is raising good little Catholics not good little Irish citizens. If it believed that the goal of Catholic primacy could be achieved through teaching British Unionism it would most decidedly be a Pro-Union body in the north-east (look at the events surrounding the Irish Revolution and counter-revolution – how often did the RC hierarchy stand with the British or Free State regimes?).
Relying on the RC Church to shape and pass on Irish national identity is a potentially fatally flawed gamble. Better that Irishness is hardwired into the system and that could happen via parallel schooling.
Just a few thoughts 🙂
‘I disagree that faith-based education is superior to secular’
But this is not a matter for disagreement. We can look at the respective records and see that it’s a fact. We can argue over why this should be the case, but there’s no argument over whether it’s the case.
But I completely agree with your observation that the Catholic Church is not an Irish nationalist institution, and any confluence of interest it has with Irish nationalism is just that. Indeed the Church has a history of going against nationalism when it suits. It even tacitly endorsed partition, its price being a guarantee that it would retain control over its schools. So I’m not in any doubts about any of that. The Catholic Church is an ally of nationalism, not a constituent part of it. But it is one hell of an ally, and nationalism would ditch it as its peril.
I agree with your latter point, which is why I would argue that “Irishness” as we might deem it needs to be embedded into the education system in the north-east of the country. I would prefer that to happen in a secular school system, you perhaps the RC one. Perhaps it could be both if the idea of parallel curricula was taken up? Schools/parents could chose/vote to educate their children under one system or the other but both would be held to be equal in terms of qualifications, etc.
Of course the simplest way to ensure that an Irish identity continues to be available in the education system to families that chose it is through the medium of Irish language education. For the time being Gaelscoileanna are the most thorough bulwark against British indoctrination. Until Unionists come around to Irish medium education themselves 😉
Our disagreement is over tactics rather than principle. If I thought the thorough Irishification of the state sector that you posit was possible, I’d be all for it. I just don’t think it’s a runner. The British state regards our nationalism as a problem to be overcome, and if they got control over our education, they’d have the perfect chance to do so. Soon enough they’d make Holywood Catholics of us all.
My support of Catholic education is much more pragmatic than religious. I keep coming back to the question: why on earth would be abolish something so successful, and give away something so valuable?
And why would we give up an institution that has been so instrumental in preserving who we are, culturally and nationally, in the face of implacable forces trying to change us, shame us, obliterate us?
Your comment about Gaelscoileanna is, again, fine in theory, but in the real world the Irish-language sector, wonderful though it is, is infinitesimal. If half the schools in NI were Irish-speaking, there’d be a huge push on to abolish Irish-medium education – and there’d be well-meaning nationalists who’d be hoodwinked into agreeing with it.
I suppose I just keep coming back to the idea that power matters. The British state has most of it, nationalism has damn all, but what little we have derives from our education system. Earlier, James talked about how the case for a UI is strong, but the truth is, our opponents and enemies don’t care how strong our case is. They only care whether we have the power to do anything about it. Without our own education system, it’d be game, set and match for them.
Billy, FJH, BD, et al,
The Catholic Church seems to have become a comfort blanket being desperately held on to by Nats just in case the lure of UI dies out because we no longer allow ourselves to be politically (and religiously?) indoctrinated. Lets be honest there is no point in having a UI if we can only do it by maintaining the exclusive right to present our own world view and we cant keep peddaling the Perfidious Albion v Hibernia Immaculata line – given that the Irish state is nealry a 100 years old and as some chappie from the ICTU said a while back the criminal gang which ran the country (badged as FF) did more damage than the Biritsh ever did.(well post famine anyway).
In Wales – where there is state education through the medium of Welsh and there is ‘national’ pride and good results and it is a growing sector (about 40% ?) – and is an excellent model for education in Ireland (and not just in terms of Education but in terms of the language in general) – and they achieve that without formalised selection which the Catholic schools in the North benefit from.
We are giving Unionism an open goal to shoot at and potentially alienating those Fenian Uncle Toms who might see the merits in a UI and also seemingly giving up completely on converting any floating Prod voters – and presenting ourselves to the world as insular and backward by promoting a system which encourages religious division and bigotry – which is not just confined to themmuns (which I presume we all acknowledge?).
This should open at your comment – tis a screamer.
Good post Sammy.
I’d have thought that integrated education is good for a UI because (i) it facilitates a reduction in division and separation in society up there (ii) it helps move to a point where peace walls come down in the North (iii) helps in terms of allowing more from both sides up there to mix and discuss at a young age and allowing protestants to integrate with catholics so that the former get to hear and lose their fear, while the latter get to understand more (via direct experience) of where protestants are coming from. (In the past we have tended to neglect protestant fears, which in retrospect may have been more valid than we admitted at the time, and this is partly because we did not consult them and we did not mix with or understand them to the detriment of the case for and type of UI that we looked for) . Moreover the fact it is supported across the world by those who have progressive values, such as President Obama, is indicative that there is a risk of seen to be on the wrong side of this. On top of that is the fact that James pointed out that the share of Catholics in Catholic schools is in decline. We in Dublin have seen a rise in share of non Catholic schools. So let us not circle wagons.
You also say “We are giving Unionism an open goal to shoot at and potentially alienating those Fenian Uncle Toms who might see the merits in a UI and also seemingly giving up completely on converting any floating Prod voters – and presenting ourselves to the world as insular and backward by promoting a system which encourages religious division and bigotry – which is not just confined to themmuns (which I presume we all acknowledge?). ”
This seems apposite, as James says its important not to be on the wrong side of all of this. The case for a UI is good you should not throw it away by separating catholics off from protestants up there, north of the border. Republicans do not believe in religious segregation. Let us remove academic selection and work on removing religious, up there.
You seem to trying to promote a United Ireland at the expense of the Catholic people of Northern Ireland. There are many people in Eire who think like you.
I think the dynamic in Norn Iron and the Republic of Ireland are very different.
For a Republican in the truest sense the primacy of the Republic is important.
This does not equate with the primacy of the (northern and British) state.
It is simply the role of a northern nationalist-republican to undermine the British aspects of the northern state and Catholic Education is vital.
ah – it was actually this one.
Thanks Sammy. I remember it now. Fun and games!
I daresay we won’t agree on this issue, which is fine. Reading over that old Slugger thread, I see that I mention Gramsci’s ideas on hegemony. I suppose I view the state and Catholic sectors as the fonts of quite separate hegemonies. So I’d favour a single education system (and a single hegemony) within the context of a republic, but not within the context of the status quo. Quite simply, any such hegemony would be a British one.
(You refer to Wales – it’s instructive that you cite as an examplar a nationalism that has been almost entirely depoliticised and presents zero threat to state power. Irish nationalism is not similarly impotent, which is why our cultural pursuits are sites of political controversy, unlike in Wales. We are not yet the pacified population that Wales is. I don’t think it’d be a good thing if we were.)
I am not, as you say above, afraid of a contest of ideas with unionism. On the contrary, I relish taking on unionist arguments, precisely because I’m a product of an educational infrastructure that equipped me to do so. And that’s precisely why people like Robinson see the logic in destroying that educational infrastructure. It’s about cutting off our intellectual supply lines. If they manage it, we’ll be easy meat for the forces of the status quo.
‘Progress’ in NI has only ever come about by growth in the power of the minority community to force it through, always (ALWAYS) in the teeth of fierce resistance from the majority community. The majority community may seek to adopt the language of progressivism, but their objective is to indoctrinate the nationalism / Irishness out of the Catholics. There’s nothing progressive about that. The Orange Order tried the same thing, arguing that marching down Garvaghy Road was a civil rights issue. Don’t be confused by the rhetoric; always keep your eye on the objective.
Good post, Billy. Interesting link below from Nigel Dodds in 2010 when Southern Protestant schools were in danger of Dail cuts.
In this fantasy world of integration would the British army recruitment officers’ be banned from entering these schools? Would the poppy, that commemorates british service persons be permitted? Would the easter lily be allowed[or is that ‘going back to the dark days’?]? Would the irish flag be permitted alongside the union jack? Would all royal symbols be banned? Would the 1916 proclaimation be displayed or even talked about? Would the ‘british kids’ be taught that Pearse, Connolly and co were freedom fighters? Would the Irish language be taught[compulsory?]?
Would those people, who we are led to believe by unionists, dont represent the majority of unionists ie willie fraser and the gang, be permitted to intimidate these schools? Who would keep the roads open? Would robinson,basil et al call willie and the gangs’ fascists? Or would they feign empathy with the targets’ of these british supremacists and turn a blind eye???
The reality is that catholic run schools are failing miserably in teaching irish nationalism/republicanism. As a matter of fact they seem to be bending over to be impartial so
much that they are starting to appear to be partial to british culture.
Anybody who uses the Good friday agreement[or would that be called the belfast agreement in these fantasy schools?] to argue for integration is simply taking the pxxx. As he/she will know you could drive a fleet of buses through that treaty. Sure the ‘first minister’ opposed the bloody thing. One may argue that ‘we’ voted for the GFA? Technically that may be true but i would argue most people didnt read it and simply voted for peace.
Finally, i ask, in this new era of integration, where there will be pink fluffy clouds in the sky,pan pipe music everywhere you go and everybody will be holding hands, will the croppies have to lie down??
Important questions that cant be avoided – but you are slightly missing the point – Nat should be in favour of integrated/state education and be working towards it – we should commit to the principle and work towards it – and if and when Unionists agree to it we should adopt it.
We are about to see the opening of the bobby memorial shrine if we can ‘agree’ on that I think we should be planning on agreeing on schools. If Unionists cant live with state schools which reflect both traditions fairly/equally – let them be postioned so they have to say so.
‘Nat should be in favour of integrated/state education and be working towards it….’
You refer to ‘state education’ – the state in question is the British state. You assert as axiomatic the idea that nationalists should be in favour of it – I’d say it’s axiomatic that Irish nationalists should not be in favour of British state anything.
If I may say, your position on where the cultural balance will fall within integrated schools is astonishingly cavalier: essentially you’re saying: ‘relax lads, it’ll be fine.’ Wolfe Tone’s post may be scathingly mocking, but I think you had it coming.
‘If Unionists cant live with state schools which reflect both traditions fairly/equally…’
The integration of education would not be a single event, it would be a process. Of course unionists wouldn’t baldy assert their opposition to all things Irish. They’d do what they do in every other public institution in NI – agree in general terms, but bitterly resist in every specific instance.
In such a system, every game of hurling would be made controversial. Every reference to Irish history, every Irish language class, every kid that wanted to learn the bodhrán – all these things, which kids can now pursue in a supportive environment, would suddenly become controversial. The pressure on kids to NOT pursue these things would be powerful.
People talk about integrated schools as if they’d be a panacea for society, but in all likelihood, all you’d be doing would be turning schools into sites of political conflict. And all the power of the state would be loaded on the side of those who’d be arguing that Gaelic games, Irish language and culture, anti-imperial versions of history etc, are ‘divisive’. Meanwhile, of course, there’d be no questioning all the aspects of British state / culture to which Wolfe Tone refers.
And it’s worth repeating WT’s other point: the state schools are vastly more British than the Catholic schools are Irish.
In the end, they’d win. Might take a generation or two, but they’d win, because all the power lies with them. I don’t say that out of any lack of confidence on our part, but on a recognition (which you just don’t seem to get) of how cultural hegemony works, and how powerful and relentless the enemy is. You, a committed nationalist, have already been propagandized into supporting what the staunchest anti-nationalist forces want. How much easier would that process be if those same anti-nationalist forces had educated you in the first place?