A superb outline of why Northern Ireland is, in many ways a sadly failed state with chronically incompetent governance-a real tragedy for its people.

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Good piece, thank you. But not quite enough to change my general notion that Northern Ireland is in a better state than Scotland. Careful what you wish for with devolved government!

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The streets aren't filled with looters but they are filled with drug dealers who act with impunity. Known criminals walk the streets mocking the impotence of the PSNI and the criminal justice system. They terrorise the communities the infest in homes provided by the state whilst obviously living well beyond their means.

So, whilst looters may not be on main street they exist and are looting the citizens and the state.

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Dec 24, 2023·edited Dec 24, 2023

It's almost a forlorn sight to see our beloved Red Hand divorced from a stalwart lamppost, however its appearance in the Saturday piece by 'Fisted by Foucault' was a pleasant surprise. It's quite funny that foreign observers are arriving at the more prosaic realisation that NI isn't necessarily anomalous due to being a 'modern' western democracy suffused with some sort of primordial ethnoconfessional tension - rather it's unique because of how profoundly dysfunctional and unproductive the state is. My allegiance is to Ulster first and foremost however it's hard to conceive of us 'going our own way' when this clearly isn't viable.

One thing I would add with regards to our advantages is the fact that grammar schools appear to be far more widespread (in relation to the population) than they are in England. I sincerely believe that effective administration depends on a Prussian-style education system which employs a meritocratic academic selection process. America lacks this as far as I am aware. Grammar schools were a huge blessing for Catholics, many of whom were extricated from poverty by way of their own intellectual achievements (my own family for example). I'm not sure why working class Protestants experience their academic troubles but I'll assume the reasons are both cultural and down to structural deficiencies pertaining to the schools they attend. If this is the case then reform is urgently needed. It's no wonder 'siege mentalities' develop when upward mobility is precluded - your sole concern becomes preventing encroachments on your 'current lot'.

Trumpeting your own dispassionate neutrality is the mark of the alliance midwit, however the current model of green-orange segregation is simply anti-growth. It is perhaps time to fight fire with fire and supplant it with another model of segregation which does not discriminate according to socioeconomic background or the green-orange dichotomy - selection by intellectual merit. This would require the restoration of the rigorous academic standards which have been debased in order to accommodate the degraded comprehensives. Hopefully these systemic reforms would generate incentives for young people to stay in NI because as it stands one of the few things we're actually producing and exporting is intelligent people.

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Here’s the actual text of the speech in the linked wiki article from Craig.

“The hon. Member must remember that in the South they boasted of a Catholic State. They still boast of Southern Ireland being a Catholic State. All I boast of is that we are a Protestant Parliament and a Protestant State. It would be rather interesting for historians of the future to compare a Catholic State launched in the South with a Protestant State launched in the North and to see which gets on the better and prospers the more. It is most interesting for me at the moment to watch how they are progressing. I am doing my best always to top the bill and to be ahead of the South.”

So, it isn’t “a Protestant state for a Protestant people” because — as wiki makes very clear — that’s just a common confabulation. And also — contrary to your claims — economic performance and good governance were very much top of mind for the first PM of Northern Ireland.

I’m an Irish Catholic so it feels weird to be defending Craig here, but good lord if you’re going to make a historical argument it’d behoove you to at least read the wiki article you’re linking as part of your argument before making a series of entirely false claims.

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Fergus is accurately quoting a different speech.

In 1934, Craig said "That is my whole object in carrying on a Protestant Government for a Protestant people" (https://cain.ulster.ac.uk/issues/discrimination/quotes.htm)

Fergus never mentions the phrase "Protestant state", as you are insinuating...

I would also guess that Fergus is not very interested in the views of Craig specifically but a general strand of thought he is identified with, even if unfairly.

The extent to which one prioritises economic performance is somewhat subjective, and the claim that early NI leadership were not serious about seems plausible to me (though I am not necessarily expressing a view one way or the other).

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Yeah, I am quoting a different speech. I should have changed the link to make that clearer.

You are right that there is an economic component to partition, but my sense is that the religious element comes first (and as an Ulster Protestant myself, I probably would have felt the same way at the time, so I'm not intending to be especially critical).

I appreciate the pushback on that specific point though, and will try to do a deeper dive in future to understand Craig's (and others') motivations better.

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