NPTE 2018 Topic Paper--Northern Ireland

NPTE 2018 Topic Paper_Northern Ireland.pdf (574.0 KB)

I would’ve loved this as a competitor but I think it may be too small of an area of dispute to devote an entire NPTE topic area. Also there are some ways to improve the topics in case this is chosen

  1. Should probably be reworded to Northern Ireland votes to join the Republic of Ireland. After 1998 there isn’t a constitutional apparatus to annex the north since they changed Articles 2 & 3 of the Irish Constitution. Also the Government of Ireland Act of 1920 does provide a constitutional apparatus to change the north’s status.

  2. This would be interesting especially in regards to language death.

  3. This is probably the best of them.

  4. It’s been awhile since I’ve read up but from my remembering, there already is amnesty for many paras. Best wording would be amnesty for on-the-runs (OTRs) which failed to pass c.a 2006-7 or so.

  5. Interesting. There’s some probably decent lit on this.

  6. Almost positive the Provos haven’t been on the FTO list since 2006. There remain some dissident republican terror orgs that are on it along with some loyalist terrorists as well though.

  7. There are already quotas for 50/50 policing though it’s not fully implemented yet. Ironically you could make a case for getting rid of 50/50 policing as it excludes Polish, East Asian, Near Eastern and other immigrants to the north as well as the traveling community.

  8. This would definitely be interesting.

This would be an interesting area but I’ll admit I’m biased. There’s some decent policy debates in there (violence, what to do with the North’s immense public sector budget) and obvious critical ground. But the wording does need some retooling.

Thanks, Joe!!
I get why people would be skeptical of having such a ‘small’ issue occupy a whole topic area at NPTE, and also see this as the primary argument against my proposal’s inclusion, so I have several responses:

  1. Small topic areas are good. We often try to cram really complex issues into 40 minute rounds, and both case content and the refutation process suffer. Having one topic area at one NPTE devoted to a small region is okay, especially since the other topic area proposals are fairly wide in scope, with some exceptions.
  2. It’s not actually that small, in two ways:
    a. The impacts (depending on how people argue them, of course) potentially extend far beyond Northern Ireland’s borders. The EU’s existence and economy, American counterterror policies, the Republic of Ireland, and other separatist movements are all fair game here. I tend to think that spillover is real—check the way legalization of recreational weed, gay marriage, the Scottish referendum, and alt-right politics have all spread. Heck, even the American revolution directly influenced politics in France, Haiti, and elsewhere, not to mention anticolonial wars of independence post-WWII, etc., etc. So the potential for a change in Northern Ireland’s constitutional status to affect places all over the world is high.
    b. There are many real policy-kritik conversations to be had on this topic, as opposed to the usual generic-K links we all suffer through. Old-hat debate questions: working within vs. without the system for change, whether politics of inclusion is possible and/or good (the policing topic especially) are real questions for this region I would love to see smart people hash out.
  3. Dearth of academic inquiry into Northern Ireland: as mentioned in the paper, it’s been difficult for people to conduct research on Northern Ireland. And, despite Northern Ireland intersecting with everything I was interested in as a student—colonialism, methods of anticolonial resistance, terrorism, sectarian conflict, liberal vs. radical politics, leftist infighting—somehow I never heard Northern Ireland mentioned in any of my classes or readings, once, which seems especially astonishing given how recent (and really, ongoing) its intersections with those above issues are. That’s anecdotal, and plenty of other people could have come across N.I in formal studies, but for me it was total happenstance and I rarely meet other people with preexisting opinions on the region (you being the sole exception , Joe. Well, except for my Protestant friend who yelled at me for expressing the mildest of sympathies for the IRA lol). I think these are generally questions many debaters are interested in and a NPTE topic area, in a small way, counters the minimal academic discussion of Northern Ireland.
  4. Sure, maybe the impacts are small (Northern Ireland’s population is only about two million, after all), but the links are real! When Brexit happens, either the border between Irelands is hardened, undoing the centerpiece of the peace deal and really messing with N.I’s economy, or it’s left open, implicating UK politics broadly (undermines the point of their border security promises). And most of these topics, while anticolonial in name, would really and truly piss off Unionists/Protestants in Northern Ireland and guarantee violence, if not a civil war. So unlike lots of debates, the chances for economic collapse or war are really and truly likely. And I’d love to see debate more generally focus on small, likely impacts over unlikely flashpoint impacts.
  5. We did do rumble strips, so small is non-unique. Okay, fine, this is a bad argument. Tu quoque fallacy, and all that.
  6. Unlike many of the other proposed topic areas, I think this topic is totally unlikely to come up again at any other tournament unless we make it happen this time. Stuff like artificial intelligence, UN reform, separatist movements—those topics come up frequently at regular season tournaments all the time. This is speculative, obviously, but like I said, the amount of people I meet who know anything about Ireland (including every English person I’ve met lol), and the amount of coverage it nets in American media is negligible, so I don’t see it happening.
    So that’s my overkill of a response. As for all the topic-specific suggestions, I really really appreciate those and have many responses/topic adjustment ideas/questions I’ll post tomorrow (or, er, later today) since this is long enough for one post.

Responses to the rest of Joe’s comment:

  1. Yeah, there’s a lot I don’t like about the current wording of the topic. My concern with “Northern Ireland should vote to join the Republic of Ireland” is the multiactor fiat of all (or most) voters in NI. I just want something that gets at “Ireland should be reunified/Northern Ireland should join the Republic of Ireland as a unified, sovereign nation.” I actually think that wording would get the job done, but it would depend on if people were cool with a passive-voice, object-fiat type of res.
  2. Agreed, although frankly I’m not sure what the neg ground is on this topic.
  3. Any wording suggestions? Or think any one of those wordings has the most potential?
  4. Do you have any articles on this? I’ve had a lot of trouble finding current information on the state of amnesty for paramilitaries in NI. Seems like December there was some hubbub in a proposed expansion of amnesty and/or introduction of a statute of limitations on Troubles-related offenses but the articles I found were not clear on either the content of the proposed changes or what degree of amnesty was already provided.
  5. Yeah. Will probably reword to the UK or the Republic of Ireland removing PIRA from its list of proscribed or criminal organizations.
  6. The policy on 50-50 recruitment ended in 2011 though the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland, for readers that aren’t Joe) still says it independently aims to recruit Catholics.