Academic From New Zealand Throws Buckets Of Cold Water Over NI Election Hysteria……

This article, written by New Zealand academic, Dr Stuart Jean Bramhall is, to my mind, the most sensible and accurate analysis of the recent council elections in Northern Ireland. While much, if not most of the media analysis of the recent poll has viewed the result as a triumph for Sinn Fein, bringing in its wake predictions of a Border poll and a vote for a united Ireland, Dr Bramhall’s sober analysis concludes that the real message from the vote is that the Alliance party was the reall winner now holds the balance of power in N.I. Politics.

To remind my readers, Alliance is essentially a party formed in the wake of the fall of the old Stormont set up and was inspired by the Unionism of Captain Terence O’Neill, a moderate figure who sought, somewhat unconvincingly, to persuade moderates on both sides of the political divide to come together to prevent the disaster that ultimately was visited on N.I.

While much, if not most of the Irish media, have concluded that the election was a triumph for Sinn Fein, with all the obvious political consequences, Dr Bramhall’s convincing argument is that it is Alliance which has emerged as the party which holds the future of Northern Ireland in its hands.

I am left with one question though. Why has it taken an obscure antipodean academic, half way across the world, to see something unnoticed by much if not most of the Irish media and political leadership? Anyway, with thanks to RW for the tip off, here is her article:

The local elections – another step to a united Ireland?

Posted on 

By Dr Stuart Jean Bramhall

The local election results in the North of Ireland have given rise to more commentary that another step has been taken towards a referendum on Irish unity and a united Ireland.  The success of Sinn Fein in becoming the largest party at local government level in council seats and votes has provoked this reaction, as have its previous victories.  The two have almost come to seem synonymous.

At the same time the two are repeatedly separated by the selfsame commentators who argue that any vote for a united Ireland in a referendum would have to go way beyond Sinn Fein’s support.  If a vote for this party is an indicator of impending unity, then there is an obvious problem.  Its vote in the local elections was 30.9 percent of the ballot so even after an increase in its support of 7.7 percent it is not yet a third of those voting.

It is argued that other pro-unity candidates add to the forward movement of Irish nationalism, except that the other major nationalist party, the SDLP, is slowly dying.  Its vote fell by 3.3 percentage points to 8.7 per cent.  Together the two major nationalist parties gathered 39.7 per cent.  Even with the addition of the pro-unity parties on the left and right, People before Profit and Aontú, the total rises only to 41.5 per cent.  The total for the three main unionist parties is 38.1 per cent; Irish nationalism gained more votes than the these parties.

In the 2019 local government election the three Unionist parties plus smaller unionists gained 41.87 per cent of the vote while the comparable Irish nationalist and pro-unity parties won 37.73 per cent.  At this election the DUP was the largest party and the Unionist vote was higher than that of Irish nationalism.

Local elections, however, are the least accurate electoral indicator of the relative strengths of the two camps; the turnout in 2023 was only 54 per cent, an increase of 2 per cent on the 2019 vote.  Commentators have noted that the turnout in 2023 was higher in predominantly nationalist than unionist areas by as much as 10 percentage points in some places. Irish nationalism therefore won only 22 per cent of the electorate while many unionist voters stayed at home. During any referendum on a united Ireland it can hardly be expected that unionists will be so apathetic or demoralised, unless political circumstances make them so, unlikely to be a result of the vote itself.

In the 2022 Assembly elections, where the turnout was almost 63.6 per cent, the vote for the three Unionist parties was 40.1 per cent while the pro-Irish unity vote comparable to the most recent local elections was 40.7 per cent.  The recent local election results are not the first time the Unionist parties have fallen behind.

Twelve years ago in the 2011 Assembly elections, Unionism polled 47.65 per cent while Irish nationalism trailed behind at 42.81 per cent.  The decline in the Unionist vote over these years is therefore clear and it is this decline that has provided most of the impetus to claims that a nationalist referendum victory is a realistic prospect in the short to medium term.  The 2011 result however also reveals what the advance of Sinn Fein has hidden – that the nationalist share of the vote hasn’t increased:  42.81 per cent in 2011 and 41.5 per cent in 2023.

The missing piece of the jigsaw is the rise of the Alliance party: from 7.84 per cent in 2011 to  13.3 per cent in the recent local election.  The question then becomes the political nature of this party – unionist with a ‘small u’ or nationalist; or what it presents itself as – simply ‘other’.

So let’s start with the third alternative–that Alliance cannot be said to have a position on the national question.  Even if this were so the national question will face Alliance and its supporters with the choice sooner or later and ‘other’ will not be on the ballot paper.

Alliance is definitely not an Irish nationalist party, does not pretend to be or pretend to hide it, and while it has a significant Catholic support, this has consciously decided not to vote for Irish nationalism.  While it may be more likely than other Alliance supporters to vote for unity in a referendum, its existing vote is for the status quo and the status quo is continued British rule.

The party was originally set up as an openly unionist party that presented itself as non-sectarian; one that divorced its unionism from any religious identity.  It has moved from this to present itself as neither Unionist nor nationalist but with a soft, ‘small u’, unionist support that is repelled by the sectarianism of the Unionist mainstream, with many also rejecting Brexit.  In a referendum, all other things being equal, the majority of Alliance voters can be expected to support continued British rule, as will the party itself.

The ’other things being equal’ is what will matter for many; the political circumstances will at some point be decisive.  These include the reality of what a united Ireland might offer and the configuration of the forces fighting for and against it.  This includes the approach of the British state and the extent of violent unionist opposition.  What the election results demonstrate is that this point is not yet near, whatever about Sinn Fein becoming the largest party and Irish nationalism garnering more votes than ‘big U’ Unionism.  This does not mean that nothing is really changing.

Unionism continues to decline.  Its support for Brexit and rejection of the deal negotiated by the British state with the EU indicates a political movement fighting against its own interests. These are still considered to include a sectarian supremacy that is no longer possible and opposition to economic forces that might make the Northern State more attractive, even while it strengthens the all-island character of potential economic prosperity.  No longer able to make its claims on the basis that it is the majority within the gerrymandered state, it simply declares its veto based on its own existence.  This existence has always been one of sectarian privilege.

The other significant change has been within Irish republicanism, which having ditched its armed struggle against British rule has found itself with no clothes it cannot discard.  From opposition to British imperialism it now stands foursquare behind the western imperialist  proxy war in Ukraine.  Its representatives have acclaimed its recent success as a result of its brilliant electoral campaign.  This put a united Ireland on the back-burner but purposively elevated its attendance at the British king’s coronation, ‘to show their respect’.

It seems not to occur to them that monarchy is the epitome of denial of democracy and deserves zero respect. When Celtic and Liverpool football fans demonstrate a higher level of awareness of very basic democratic and republican principles we can appreciate the level to which Sinn Fein has sunk (with all due respect to those fans).


A Marxist View On Sinn Fein’s Latest Political Contortions

I have been, and still am at time of writing, in hospital for much needed surgery and to while away the hours I have been surfing the web. In the course of that I came across this quote from an Irish Marxist publication, the name of which I lost, unfortunately (the internet in this hospital is not the best). If anyone can identify the source for me I’d be grateful:

“It just seems not to occur to them (i.e. SF) that monarchy is the epitome of denial of democracy and deserves zero respect. When Celtic and Liverpool football fans demonstrate a higher level of awareness of very basic democratic and republican principles we can appreciate the level to which Sinn Fein has sunk (with all due respect to those fans).

“If this seems a rather glib or flippant remark, we can recall the explanation by another Sinn Fein member who stated that its approach was anticipation of the mutually respectful attitude between an independent Ireland and Britain when it was united.  We are almost back to the original Arthur Griffith Sinn Fein that supported a Habsburg Empire-like dual monarchy.”

Glasgow Celtic Fans Need A Good Talking To From The Big Effort……

A Film On A Dirty Northern Secret Worth Watching…..

Details are here:

Adams To Run For The Aras In ‘25? Almost A Cert….

The Big Lad has survived because he is so cautious about taking risks. I mean did anyone ever see him fire a shot in anger during an IRA campaign that in no small way he helped to create and sustain? But it had always been part of the secret ThinkTank peace process plan that along with a ceasefire and Sinn Fein’s eclipse of the IRA and political rivals, Adams would run for the Irish presidency, assuming the rest of the plan worked out, which it has more or less. But he will not do it if there is a chance of defeat. If the opinion polls are accurate and Adams’ bum eventually does rest on whatever passes for a throne in the Aras, while Sinn Fein lords it in Leinster House, what will it say the Troubles were about?

Gardai Open Up Probe Of Seamus Ludlow Killing, 47 Years After His Death

It has taken nearly half a century, gallons of ink and buckets of sweat and tears but finally An Garda Siochana appears to have agreed to investigate the 1976 murder of Co Louth forestry worker Seamus Ludlow (47), whose body was found dumped over a hedge near his home on the northern outskirts of Dundalk on May 2 that year. He had been killed with bullets fired at the torso.

At the time Garda detectives blamed the IRA, claiming that Ludlow may have been killed because he witnessed something the IRA wanted to keep secret in the course of his work in nearby Ravendale forest, between Newry and Dundalk. The Gardai effectively branded Seamus Ludlow an informer, which he was not. In fact he was a random victim of a group of Loyalists who had ended up in Dundalk after a day of drinking.

The Gardai showed little interest in investigating the Ludlow murder and eventually dropped the probe altogether. The fact that the real killer was suspected of being an agent for one or other British intelligence agency has fuelled suspicions that the Gardai were acting in the interests of British intelligence, which would not have wanted one of its agents publicly embroiled is such activity.

This reporter, who wrote extensively about the Ludlow slaying for The Sunday Tribune, was this week contacted by a Garda detective seeking my co-operation in the new investigation, and I have agreed to help, as both the Ludlow family and a key witness to the killing have agreed is the right course to take.

The Garda action, which would have been approved by the Commissioner, Drew Harris, followed action by the Boutcher inquiry which took up the case because the suspected killer was a well known gunman with the Red Hand Commando, a small but violent Loyalist group usually linked to the UVF, from the Bangor area of Co. Down, and therefore qualified for investigation under Boutcher’s terms of reference.

With the permission of my main source for the story, Paul Hosking who witnessed Seamus Ludlow’s killing, I provided a lengthy statement to the Boutcher inquiry and the same statement will be provided to the Gardai. Hosking has always insisted that he was in the car that night with the killer and two off duty UDR soldiers by chance, teaming up with them in a Co Down pub on FA cup day when most of his drinking mates were away watching a soccer match. After several hours of drinking and driving around, the four decided to drive across the Border.

In Dundalk, Seamus Ludlow had just finished an evening of drinking in his local pub and was thumbing his way home when the Loyalists’ car stopped and offered him a lift, which he accepted. The car then took him to a lonely pathway off the main road, the driver, who went by the nickname ‘Mambo’, got out of the car, pulled out a handgun and shot him dead with three bullets to the torso. He and the two UDR men then threw his dead body over a hedge, where he was found next day by neighbours who had mounted a search for the missing man.

This story has been in public circulation for years now but still the Garda authorities took no action. It remains to be seen how thorough the new Garda probe will be and, in particular, whether it will examine the slanderous misbehaviour of the policemen who labelled Seamus Ludlow a terrorist, when he was just an innocent forestry worker in the wrong place at the wrong time.

One aspect of the case may not be probed. This is the strong suggestion that the gunman that night was on the books of one or other branches of British intelligence, in whose interests the original Gardai investigators lied and libelled a dead man.

Workers’ Party Now Outflanks SF On The Left:

You can read it here:

Sinn Fein Makes Another Rightward Lurch To The Center….

You can read about it here……

On Coronation Day, How British Tories Ought To View Sinn Fein – From ‘The Spectator’s’ Brendan O’Neill

“The right needs to calm down about Sinn Fein. It needs to chill out about the fact that the party’s vice-president, Michelle O’Neill, will be attending the coronation of King Charles. It needs to relax about that selfie featuring Sinn Fein’s former president, Gerry Adams, gurning next to Joe Biden during his jaunt in Ireland. It needs to stop fretting over the spike in support for Sinn Fein in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in recent years.

“For all of this stuff is not proof that Sinn Fein’s old radical goal of creating a 32-county republic is gaining ground. On the contrary, it points to the neutering of Sinn Fein, to its hollowing out and humiliation; to the transformation of this once guerilla-style party into Ireland’s version of the Lib Dems. Pale, drab and madly keen to cosy up to the powerful, Sinn Fein has well and truly had its balls removed.

“In sidling into Westminster Abbey, Michelle O’Neill is signalling her acceptance of the legitimacy of the British monarchy, It is hard to think of another political party on these isles that is as politically compromised as Sinn Fein. That has so breezily dispensed with every principle it once held dear. And that’s saying something, given we have a Labour party that has turned its back on people who labour, a Conservative party that is not particularly conservative, and a Liberal Democrat party that is neither liberal nor democratic.

“And yet Sinn Fein outdoes them all in the self-betrayal stakes. It has gone from being a party opposed to Empire to a party enamoured of Empire, especially the European one. From rebels to lackeys in the space of a generation – it’s hilarious.Consider Ms. O’Neill’s decision to swing by Westminster Abbey this Saturday and watch agog as Charles III and Camilla are crowned King and Queen of the United Kingdom – which includes Northern Ireland.

“There was a time when the Sinn Fein newspaper An Phoblacht cheekily treated royals as normal citizens. It referred to the then Prince of Wales as ‘Charles Windsor’, to puncture the Brits’ daft belief that this man’s blood made him special. And yet now the party’s VP will watch as ‘Charles Windsor’ is enthroned as God’s chosen ruler of the kingdom she lives in.There has been much discussion about O’Neill’s attendance of the coronation. The chattering-class consensus is that she’s playing a blinder, strategically speaking. It is ‘smart politics’, says an analyst at Queen’s University Belfast: O’Neill is demonstrating that Sinn Fein has the ‘necessary political tact and diplomacy to represent Ireland on the world stage’.

“A writer for the New Statesman gushes over her ‘saviness‘’\.Come on. Can’t we acknowledge that O’Neill’s coronation trip represents a trashing of the ideals Sinn Fein was founded on? In sidling into a pew at Westminster Abbey, O’Neill is signalling her acceptance of the legitimacy of the British monarchy, including of its reign in Northern Ireland. She’s taking the knee to ‘Charles Windsor’. She’s bowing down to the master her political forebears swore to defeat.It took the small Irish party People Before Profit\ to cut through all the jabber about O’Neill’s brilliant diplomacy.

“They said it will be a sad day when ‘the Sinn Fein leader toasts the head of the British armed forces’. This might be old-world, nostalgic lingo, a slightly sad rehash of battles of the 20th century, but there’s something bracing in it too. Especially when everyone else is so keen to dress up Sinn Fein’s perfidy as savvy.It isn’t only the old enemy that Sinn Fein is cuddling up to. They love other Empires, too. The conservative handwringing over that Biden and Adams selfie struck me as odd. Because surely the real story there was not that Biden is a hardline Irish republican but that Adams has ditched his old anti-imperialism to such an extraordinary extent that he’s now tragically eager to press the flesh, if only for a few fleeting seconds, with America’s imperial leaders.

“If they had looked more dispassionately at that pic, commentators would have clocked that the real story it told was of Sinn Fein becoming yet another staid, middle-class, technocratic party, happy to be in the orbit of American power, like the rest of them.Then there’s Sinn Fein’s eye-swivelling compromise on the European Union. On the rare occasion that the emasculated New Sinn Fein pays lip service to the idea of a United Ireland, they make it clear that their vision is of an Ireland united under the dominion of Brussels. It is hard to overstate what a profound repudiation of principle this represents. In the 1970s, Sinn Fein was thoroughly Eurosceptic. One of its leaders \said he was ‘perplexed’ by the idea that Ireland should join the EU and ‘surrender its sovereignty to an even bigger entity than Britain’.

“And yet here is modern Sinn Fein cheerleading for Brussels, begging to be governed from afar. ‘Surrender’ really is the operative word. Sinn Fein is happy to surrender sovereignty to Europe, and to surrender its every founding ideal in the name of winning votes, getting some nice write-ups in the Irish Times, having five seconds in the company of Joe Biden, and securing a seat in the abbey as Charles Windsor is crowned their King. People on the right who don’t like Sinn Fein have no need to panic. It is a completely defeated political outfit. The rabble-rousers of old are now Guardianista patsies of new empires and uncritical mouthpieces of woke dogma. They’re about as threatening as Ed Davey.”