Talk:Northern Ireland/Archive 8

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"Country" (no doubt discussed before)

There are undoubtedly references that will refer to Northern Ireland as a "country" but it is not ordinarily the case to refer to it as such. The table of sources in the Countries of the United Kingdom refer to Northern Ireland obliquely (e.g. "Methods of joint working between health and social care agencies vary across the 4 countries of the United Kingdom.") rather than explicity stating "Northern Ireland is a country" (or similar).

It is disenginious, misleading, non-neutral (and undue weight) to so baldly state that Northern Ireland is a "country" when the same thing can be expressed by simply stating that it is a "part of the United Kingdom". (Reminder: the current version says that Northern Ireland is both a "country" and a "part of the United Kingdom" as if they are two distinct facts.)

Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, that is simple and unambigious. But to say that Northern Ireland is a "country" (without at the least a qualification of what is meant) is false on very many levels and deeply misleading. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 08:24, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

I agree. Northern Ireland is an artificial gerrymandered state, and not a "country". The same is also true of the Republic of Ireland, and we should remove all references to its being a "country" too. ðarkuncoll 08:27, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
You may be surprised but I agree WRT ROI - "state" is better, the current version does something to capture that ("The modern sovereign state occupies about five-sixths of the island of Ireland..."). --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 08:41, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
You're correct that this has been discussed before. However, as to whether the nature of the creation of Northern Ireland means it can not be a country is a discussion that could be replicated elsewhere - countries have been created by other countries joining together (e.g. the UK) and by countries splitting (eg North Korea). They are countries, however, because they have the key characteristics that countries have. Cheers Fishiehelper2 (talk) 08:49, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
The issue is whether Northern Ireland is ordinarily described as being a "country" (and in a sense that is apparently distinct from it being a constituent part of the United Kingdom). The matter is further complicated by the fact that "country" is commonly used as a synonym for a "sovereign state". Whereas referring to ROI as a "country" is fine owing to "country" being synonymous with "sovereign state", Northern Ireland does not have that quality and has never had.
Furthermore, baldly referring to Northern Ireland a "country" leans towards one political perspective rather than keeping a neutral line. This is particularly so when what is commonly understood by "country" is different to what is meant here. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 09:03, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
There was an agreed compromise on this wasn't there? What was it? Can't seem to find it. From memory, and mine isn't too hot I may add, it was that the article should start "Northern Ireland is a constituent country of the United Kingdom". Not "is a country" and not "is part". Stating that NI is a country is misleading, as it is not and never has been a sovereign state. But not stating that it is a country is also misleading, as it has many of the qualities of a country, as described in the country article. The problem is the ambiguous definition of the word. Stu ’Bout ye! 09:52, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
"constituent country" is fine as that is the UK lingo (of couse "not a part" of the UK would be better! - joking!!). --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 09:59, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
These Reliable Sources tables (and the Countries of the United Kingdom article they are home to) were designed to save time - instead of repeating the facts within them - when the question is raised as to whether the UK's constituent countries can in fact be called 'countries'. Best, Daicaregos (talk) 14:30, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Many sources does not equal facts, see WP:WEIGHT and WP:WEASEL for example. There are many references in that table, yet few of them refer directly to Northern Ireland as being a country in its own right. None of them say that Northern Ireland is a "contry" in and of itself (as this articles currently seems to do) but rather in the limited sense of what a "country" can mean with regards to the UK constient parts.
That is an obscure use of the word. We are not here to confuse our readers. If Nortern Ireland is not a country in the usual sense of the word then we should not say it is without qualification. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 15:25, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
We've already compromised to use 'country' for all 4 articles. There must be consistancy among them. GoodDay (talk) 16:32, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

⬅There are no new arguments above. Country does not mean the same thing as sovereign state, that is clearly established. The UK Government has chosen to describe NI as a country (one of four in the UK). Many of us think it should be a part of Ireland, others want it described as a province. There are multiple POV positions. The reason for all the prior work, and the citation tables at Countries of the United Kingdom was to lay this one to rest. It was eventually agreed that a common form across England.Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland made sense and that is in place as an established consensus position. It was also clearly agreed that it should be clear in the lede that they are in the United Kingdom. --Snowded TALK 16:49, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

That sums up the position perfectly. Cheers Fishiehelper2 (talk) 17:42, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
This consensus appears to have been on the basis that the Scotland, England and Wales are countries so that the countries nomenclature wins 3-1. Northern Ireland is not a country and when the link between States and Countries is (properly) broken there is much more support for the idea of Ireland as country than for NI as country. The UK is not symmetrical in nature, there is nothing consistent about it, it has units with different histories. The collective name for such units in a common form cannot proceed simply on a majority basis, it must be the lowest level of collective term that includes all of the subunits, the UK has 3 countries and NI which calls itself a province and which is so titled by members of all communities. The collective term for the UK must be one that does not imply symmetry between the subdivisions, which does not preclude Scotland identifying itself as country, if that is appropriate for them. But such a structure must not require NI to be categorised in a non-neutral way for the convenience of England, Scotland and Wales.Ardmacha (talk) 18:31, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Read the previous discussion - the UK government itself describes the UK as a country made up of 4 countries. 'Country' nomenclature wins 4-0, and not 3-1. Cheers Fishiehelper2 (talk) 18:37, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
The UK government also uses the term province to refer to Northern Ireland and region. Use of country by the UK government to refer to Northern Ireland is quite limited, as of all words to refer to the place it is probably the most impolitic. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 19:17, 21 October 2009 (UTC)


First, there is no need for such "consistency". They are four distinct topics, they can be treated distinctly. Secondly, it is incorrect to insist on artificial "consistency" at the cost of reality. The particular problems of England and Scotland are no reason to reduce the veracity this article. Thirdly, applying the term "country" to Northern Ireland leans heavily to the side of one (extreme) POV with regard to the topic. It is nowhere near a neutral way to approach the topic.
How to describe Northern Ireland is a fraught subject. Here's some citations (that actually deal with the topic of Northern Ireland), I've highlighted particular sections:
  • "One problem must be adverted to in writing about Northern Ireland. This is the question of what name to give to the various geographical entities. These names can be controversial, with the choice often revealing one's political preferences. ... some refer to Northern Ireland as a 'province'. That usage can arouse irritation particularly among nationalists, who claim the title 'province' should be properly reserved to the four historic provinces of Ireland-Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connacht. If I want to a label to apply to Northern Ireland I shall call it a 'region'. Unionists should find that title as acceptable as 'province': Northern Ireland appears as a region in the regional statistics of the United Kingdom published by the British government." - J. Whyte and G. FitzGerald, 1991, Interpreting Northern Ireland, Oxford University Press: Oxford
  • "One specific problem - in both general and particular senses - is to know what to call Northern Ireland itself: in the general sense, it is not a country, or a province, or a state - although some refer to it contemptuously as a statelet: the least controversial word appears to be jurisdiction, but this might change." - S. Dunn and H. Dawson, 2000, An Alphabetical Listing of Word, Name and Place in Northern Ireland and the Living Language of Conflict, Edwin Mellen Press: Lampeter
  • "Next - what noun is appropriate to Northern Ireland? 'Province' won't do since one-third of the province is on the wrong side of the border. 'State' implies more self-determination than Northern Ireland has ever had and 'country' or 'nation' are blatantly absurd. 'Colony' has overtones that would be resented by both communities and 'statelet' sounds too patronizing, though outsiders might consider it more precise than anything else; so one is left with the unsatisfactory word 'region'." - D. Murphy, 1979, A Place Apart, Penguin Books: London
If, as you say, there are no new arguments above then I'm afraid I see no substantial argument in favour of the current version. I would suggest simply going with "part of the United Kingdom" but if Stu's suggestion ("constituent country of the United Kingdom") is more palatable then I'm fine with that. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 19:10, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Northern Ireland is a Country of the United Kingdom. The introduction should say that, if we are to change this one, which is justified by sources then we will have to open up the debate on the Scotland, England and Wales pages too. I expect all 4 articles to say the same thing, each are considered countries of the United Kingdom by Her Majesty's Government. Although im sure we all have strong feelings on the wisdom of that government decision, i know i do. BritishWatcher (talk) 19:21, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Why do you expect all four articles to say the same thing? The history/politics of Scotland are different to the history/politics of Northern Ireland, which is different to that of Wales, which is different to that of England. Its misleading, untrue and (in this case) runs rough-shod over WP:NPOV to insist on artificiality for the sake of "consistency". --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 19:31, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
The UK government uses various terminologies for its component parts, NI government rarely if ever uses country to describe itself. It is not difficult to find examples of central UK government referring to NI as a province e.g. Prime Minster's office. Wikipedia should not imply a consistency that does not exist. Constituent country implies country, which is contentious and not supported by common usage. A simple constituent might be suitable, or constituent region. The commonly used term Province won't really do in this context as the UK doesn't seem to have any other provinces. Ardmacha (talk) 19:27, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
My personal choice is 'constituent country', but have long ago argeed to use 'country'. Let's keep things the way they are. GoodDay (talk) 22:40, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
"The commonly used term Province won't really do in this context as the UK doesn't seem to have any other provinces."
Just because the UK doesn't have any other provinces doesn't mean it can't have one. NI is referred to as a province far more often than anything else, and this is no doubt derived from the historic province of Ulster. That it doesn't comprise the whole of historic Ulster is irrelevant, since - for example - the Republic of Ireland government calls itself "Ireland", though it only represents part of Ireland. ðarkuncoll 23:39, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Jeepers, things have been going smooth for so long on this topic. Let's leave it as 'country'. GoodDay (talk) 23:46, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
The UK Government reference is really the key one, it is the sovereign state and it talks about four countries. Now Northern Ireland does not have the history of being a country that is the case for Wales, Scotland and England. However time moves on, it now has similar levels of devolved government etc. At some stage in the future it may well become part of a reunited Ireland. In common use it is correct to say that it is not often described as a country in the way that the others are and so there has always been some argument for treated it differently. However then the various historical controversies creep in. Hence the prior agreement to go with the UK government's formal description. Consistency is not mandated, but it is desirable. Given the controversies that raged on this issue in respect of all four articles, the current stable version have reduced tension. There are better areas for people to expend their energy. --Snowded TALK 04:44, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
If the UK government reference is the "key" then the agrument is in a sorry state. Replying on generalised headline references from which one makes inferrences to specific topics contrary to sources (e.g. the ones above) that deal substantially and direcly with the topic and the specific question at hand places undue wieght on a sythesis of material. Trooping out a greater number of such references, as in the table on Countries of the UK, does not fix this mistake, it just repeats it.
The issues with regard to England and Scotland can be dealt with on the England and Scotland pages. There is no reason that absurd statments have to be introuduced into this article (via a sythesis of non-absurd sources) to pacify quarrels on other pages.
Calling Northern Ireland a "country" is, to quote one verifabale source (above), "blatantly absurd". No so for England and Scotland - so take it over there. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 08:07, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
You are not going to achieve consensus for a change. Better to leave this particular issue and move on to something where your efforts can make a real difference - plenty articles are in need of work! Cheers Fishiehelper2 (talk) 08:47, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Plenty indeed. But let's work on one at a time. This article, for example, has a "blatantly absurd" (Murphy:1979) claim in it's opening line. The claim repeated here and there elsewhere in the article. It apparantly does so owing to resolutions to edit warring on other articles (Scotland and England). The evidience for the claim (in respect of this article) is based on a undue weight being placed on a synthesis that is in contradiction to sources that deal specifically with substance of the claim.
Thankfully we don't rely on consensus alone (this isn't mob rule). In this case, verifiability and neutrality don't hold water - regardless of what POV is being pushed over from quarrels about Scotland and England.
If you don't have anything further to add beyond what has already been mentioned, I'm going to remove the "blatantly absurd" claim and move no to matters that actually deserve attention. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 09:18, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
I have no pov on whether N.Ireland be called a country or not. I don't though understand why you think you should change it when there are numerous sources to back it up. Are you dismissing these sources? Jack forbes (talk) 10:24, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
I've written above about the sources. They are oblique and headline-ish (e.g. heading categories on the UK National Statistics website or UK government web-based summaries on the make-up of the UK). I cannot see any that actually discuss Northern Ireland as being a country, or the fraught question of what to call Northern Ireland. Those sources that do discuss what to call Northern Ireland ("country", "province", "region", etc.), such as the example above, come down very heavily against calling Northern Ireland "country" (as either unneutral or absurd). The matter with regard to surces is that of a synthesis being given more weight than reliable sources that actually deal with the question of what to call Northern Ireland.
The origin of this choice of wording is also worrying. It seems the decision was reached on the basis of how to resolve issues over how to describe Scotland and England in their respective articles rather than what is actually case with regard to Northern Ireland. That is no way to approach article writing. The question with regard to Scotland/England is very different to that of Northern Ireland. Horse-trading over competing POVs on those pages cannot be applied here and said to be correct just becuase is suits those two articles. (I have replied to a message from Fishiehelper2 on my talk.) --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 10:52, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Just had another look at the sources. I agree that in general talk N.Ireland is not often referred to as a country. But, the fact that reliable sources do indeed refer to it as a country, whether that's headline-ish or not, I believe to be very relevant to the content of this article. If government sources (and others) state that there are four countries in the UK then four countries there are. I would agree with you that all four countries should not have to be consistent, but the fact is, they have consistent sources to back up the use of country. Jack forbes (talk) 11:08, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
The question is not whether the idea of NI as a country should be presented in Wikipedia, it is whether is should be presented in introductions, templates etc as the standard way of referring to NI, when it not generally used. Government sources and others have used the term country, but have also used other terms. In this situation it is non-neutral to use the strongest term, but rather one should be used on which there is consensus. The article can expand the information on the range of the terms used, where appropriate. Ardmacha (talk) 11:27, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
If N.Ireland is called a country then it must be in the introduction. Why would something this important be hidden further down the article? "Northern Ireland is a country that is a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". It perfectly describes (according to sources) what N.I is and the description should be introduced immediately. Jack forbes (talk) 11:56, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
← So given two sets of sources: one set headlineish and only obliquely referring to the question of what to call Northern Ireland; the other dealing with directly with Northern Ireland and discussing the specific question at hand - you would choose the former as a better measure of fact?
With regard to the first set of sources, there even more sources of that kind that would refer to Northern Ireland as a "province" or a "region" (see links to Google search above and pick through some of the results). The number cited here on Wikipedia that obliquely support referring to Northern Ireland as a "country", I believe, is greater testiment to the determination of editors involved in the England and Scotland disputes than their actual occurances in the real world.
Why the decision to give more weight to a narrow set of oblique sources? I ain't swallowing it.
"If N.Ireland is called a country then it must be in the introduction." But for the facts that verifiable sources retute the claim and call the ideas of calling Northern Ireland a country "absurd". I counter that if sources say that calling Northern Ireland a country is absurd then taht must also be stated in the introduction. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 12:07, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Verifiable sources not only call Northern Ireland a country, it is called a region, a Province, a state, a statelet and other things. All of these things cannot be in the first sentence of an introduction or in a template and one of these terms alone does not "perfectly describe" NI. The introductory sentence can only say something along the lines of NI is part of the UK, which is eminently verifiable and entirely neutral.Ardmacha (talk) 12:11, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
There was a consensus on describing Northern Ireland as 'a country that is a part of the United Kingdom'. Though one or two editors may be arguing against that description, that is hardly a consensus to change the wording. I will now drop out of the discussion at this point as I do not wish to spend time going over old arguments, but for the record, I support the existing wording. Cheers Fishiehelper2 (talk) 12:12, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes, the consensus was there for the present wording. Also for the record, I too agree with the present wording. Jack forbes (talk) 12:17, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Sure. Since this discussion seems to be going nowhere, I'll gather more quotations this evening (again, ones that actually address the topic and that contradict the inferences made via synthesis), add those to footnote [2] with an explanatory note, remove the text "a country that is" and delete references to "country" from elsewhere in the article. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 13:27, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

There was a consensus in the England and Scotland talkpages that they be described as countries. There may even have been a consensus there that they would describe all four elements as countries. But when was there a consensus here, in the article where we have an obvious exception that disproves the rule? I am sure that nobody wants to revisit the argument on the Scotland article, but nevertheless, the rule is disproven. So the rule must change or an exception made in this case. --Red King (talk) 13:07, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Furthermore, we had a stable text in "is a constituent country" until some rulebound jobsworth came along and changed it. Yes, it is a form of words that uses the word 'country' but it qualifies it just enough to be tolerable to both traditions. --Red King (talk) 13:11, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
While my own preference would be "Northern Ireland is a country situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland", "is a constituent country" is the best option I feel. There are (pretty much) equally compelling arguments for and against it being described as a country, which means another alternative has to be found. The best, most neutral, and most verifiable of these is "is a constituent country". Simply stating "part of" is too vague, "province of" makes my blood boil for a number of reasons. Stu ’Bout ye! 13:24, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
I wouldn't want to boil anyone blood ... "constituent country" is fine (plenty of refs that direcly address NI in a neutral fashion). I'll still gather more refs re: the inapplicability of "country" and add those to [2] (as I said above), simply so we can put this to bed as there appears to be many on the "mainland" that simply don't get it. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 13:31, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Constituent Country was also discussed and the approach to resolution was to create the citation table at Countries of the United Kingdom. Please don;t start saying that people on the mainland don't get it rannṗáirtí, several of us have lived in ireland and spent considerable periods of time in the North during and after the Troubles. There are multiple designations, many of which are politically loaded. Overall the UK Government web site has authority that has to be taken into account as do the citation tables. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Snowded (talkcontribs)
Northern Ireland, along with England, Scotland and Wales are all verified as countries. Reliable sources that recognise this include: The Library of Congress quote: "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the collective name of four countries, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The four separate countries were united under a single Parliament through a series of Acts of Union."; 10 Downing Street quote: "The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland"; Commonwealth Secretariat quote: "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) is a union of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland"; European Commission quote: "The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales." The lead paragraph has been stable on this article for well over a year. I see no compelling reason to change it now. Daicaregos (talk) 13:43, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Sure. Plenty of references employing extened quotations are definately the way to go. I'll add them tonight and ammend the article as appropraite. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 13:56, 22 October 2009 (UTC)


'Constituent country' is utterly meaningless as far as I'm concerned, and wholly unsatisfactory if being used in isolation on just this article. You aren't going to come up with any reference or argument I haven't seen before a million times, so please don't waste everybody's time going over this again Rannṗáirtí, your initial edit summary of 'since when' should have clued you in, the 'when' was 6-9 months iirc. MickMacNee (talk) 13:47, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

'Constituent country' is not an improvement on country, it merely adds that NI is part of the UK which is not in dispute. There is little evidence of any NI government description of itself using this terminology and a lot of evidence of diverse terminology being used. Wikipedia should not give currency to a description that would not be used in a widespread way by the government of Northern Ireland. The phrase 'Constituent country' does not appear on the Hansard of the current NI Assembly or the old Stormont Parliament. Ardmacha (talk) 13:57, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
The "when" of my edit summary was "since when" did it become any less absurd (see refs above and more to follow tonight) to call Northern Ireland a "country". --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 14:00, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
And 'absurd' text does not have a habit of sticking around in high profile articles as long as this lead sentence has. Like I said, if you think you are going to bring any brand new information or arguments to this debate to convince me, or imo anybody else who has seen it all before, to believe this wording is not fine on balance, you seriously are wasting your time, you are just going to annoy a hell of a lot of people, for a negligible improvement to the article (you simply cannot reflect your issues with this 'absurdity' through a simple change to one or two words in the lede, whole sections of the article are already required to detail it properly, not to mention the oft quoted entire article). Not to mention I am quite sure that disputes over 'what is NI' is already squarely under arbcom sanctions. MickMacNee (talk) 14:45, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Update - Headline from Belfast Telegraph in June this year - "Northern Ireland just the latest country to victimise Roma" [1]
So what - Headline from Belfast Telegraph in August of this year - "Northern Ireland only UK region to miss upturn"[2] —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ardmacha (talkcontribs) 14:37, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
so what? - no one is denying that Northern Ireland is one of the statistical regions of the UK (as are also Scotland and Wales), but people are denying that 'country' is a valid term. Cheers Fishiehelper2 (talk) 14:49, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
'country' is a valid term in that it verifiable, but it is not the only or usual term used to describe NI and it should not be presented as such. Contentious terms that are not universally used have a place in discussion but not in templates. Ardmacha (talk) 14:56, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Removed the word "country" and added supporting refs

I have removed the phrase "country" from the article and added 10 explanatory references in support. I do this with apologies to those from the tradition different to my own/ I know it looks like overkill and drumming home a point that can runs contrary to others sensibilities. I apologize for this. I hope you will understand that unfortunately editors, more concerned with terms used on other articles, are unwilling to recognize the significance of such them in relation to Northern Ireland.

I would hope that 10 would be sufficient, if not, as other Irishmen will probably know instinctively, I can supply more. Published sources that support the statement that "Northern Ireland is not a country" are fish in the metaphorical barrel. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 20:46, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Sorry you do not have agreement to that change --Snowded TALK 20:54, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Your not even close to having an agreement. Jack forbes (talk) 20:57, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
To refute terminology on the basis of being non-neutral it is only necessary to show that other terminology is widely used or that authoritative sources recognise that the terminology used is contentious. This has been done and so the change is required by Wikipedia's non-neutral standards. --Ardmacha (talk) 21:36, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
That is a position and needs to be outlined here on the talk page. It may be a strong argument for a note to the effect that the designation is controversial. It does not justify the changes made earlier today while the matter is still under discussion --Snowded TALK 21:41, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
I do not think the addition of a note would provide the balance required. The removal of the word country from the initial description takes away little from the article and removes non-neutral phrasology. If the entire Good Friday Agreement can be written without using the word country, as noted in discussion by Enaidmawr, then so can the first sentence on the NI wikipedia page. --Ardmacha (talk) 22:52, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Just to be clear, i oppose the removal of country from the introduction. All four parts of the United Kingdom are described as countries and there for it makes sense to be consistent and have the same lead sentence. It is not incorrect to say country, it is clearly sourced. BritishWatcher (talk) 00:02, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

The argument for the removal of country does not deny that it is sourced, it is based on the sourced existence of a number of other terms and the association of country with a particular POV. It may make sense to be consistent if the underlying structure is consistent, e.g. States in a federation which are constitutionally equal. The UK does not have this consistency and Wikipedia should not imply a consistency that does not exist. If consistency is desired then have a Countries of Great Britain page where greater agreement can reasonably be found. --Ardmacha (talk) 00:19, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
I think not. The sources say they are countries of the United Kingdom and include Northern Ireland. There is no need to remove country from this introduction, its reliably sourced and should stay. BritishWatcher (talk) 00:22, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
In half an hour I found ten published sources dealing specifically with Northern Ireland that in flat terms said the exact opposite of what is claimed. Since they have been removed from the article, here they are again for the benefit of others:
References contradicting the claim that Northern Ireland is a "country":

Regarding describing Northern Ireland as a "country" see for example:

  • "One problem must be adverted to in writing about Northern Ireland. This is the question of what name to give to the various geographical entities. These names can be controversial, with the choice often revealing one's political preferences. ... some refer to Northern Ireland as a 'province'. That usage can arouse irritation particularly among nationalists, who claim the title 'province' should be properly reserved to the four historic provinces of Ireland-Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connacht. If I want to a label to apply to Northern Ireland I shall call it a 'region'. Unionists should find that title as acceptable as 'province': Northern Ireland appears as a region in the regional statistics of the United Kingdom published by the British government." - J. Whyte and G. FitzGerald, 1991, Interpreting Northern Ireland, Oxford University Press: Oxford
  • "One specific problem - in both general and particular senses - is to know what to call Northern Ireland itself: in the general sense, it is not a country, or a province, or a state - although some refer to it contemptuously as a statelet: the least controversial word appears to be jurisdiction, but this might change." - S. Dunn and H. Dawson, 2000, An Alphabetical Listing of Word, Name and Place in Northern Ireland and the Living Language of Conflict, Edwin Mellen Press: Lampeter
  • "Next - what noun is appropriate to Northern Ireland? 'Province' won't do since one-third of the province is on the wrong side of the border. 'State' implies more self-determination than Northern Ireland has ever had and 'country' or 'nation' are blatantly absurd. 'Colony' has overtones that would be resented by both communities and 'statelet' sounds too patronizing, though outsiders might consider it more precise than anything else; so one is left with the unsatisfactory word 'region'." - D. Murphy, 1979, A Place Apart, Penguin Books: London
  • "Although a seat of government, strictly speaking Belfast is not a 'capital' since Northern Ireland is not a 'country', at least not in the same sense that England, Scotland and Wales are 'countries'." - J Morrill, 2004, The promotion of knowledge: lectures to mark the Centenary of the British Academy 1992-2002, Oxford University Press: Oxford
  • "Not a country in itself, Northern Ireland consists of six of the thirty-two original counties of Ireland, all part of the section of that island historically known as Ulster." - J V Til, 2008, Breaching Derry's walls: the quest for a lasting peace in Northern Ireland, University Press of America
  • "Northern Ireland is not a country in itself, but a small fragment torn from the living body of Ireland where now the last act of its long struggle for independence is being played out." - W V Shannon, Northern Ireland and America's Responsibility in K M. Cahill (ed), 1984, The American Irish revival: a decade of the Recorder, 1974-1983, Associated Faculty Press
  • "Northern Ireland (though of course not a country) was the only other place where terrorism can be said to have achieved a comparable social impact." - M Crenshaw, 1985, An Organizational Approach to the Analysis of Political Terrorism in Orbis, 29 (3)
  • "The study compare attitudes in Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, the UK, Holland, Ireland, Italy and West Germany. It also includes Northern Ireland, which of course is not a country." - P Kurzer, 2001, Markets and moral regulation: cultural change in the European Union, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge
  • "As I see it, I'm an Irish Unionist. I'm Irish, that's my race if you like. My identify is British, because that it the way I have been brought up, and I identify with Britain and there are historical bonds, psychological bonds, emotional bonds, all the rest of it you know. ... Bit to talk of independence in Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland is not a country, Northern Ireland is a province of Ireland and it is a province in the UK and I think that the notion of a national identity or group identity or racial identity or cultural identity here is a nonsense." - Michael McGimpsey quoted in F. Cochrane, 2001, Unionist politics and the politics of Unionism since the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Cork University Press: Cork
  • "Moreover, Northern Ireland is a province, not a country. Even before direct rule, many of the decisions affecting the economy, labour law, and wage bargaining were in reality taken in London, thereby diminishing the importance of local control." A Aughey, 1996, Duncan Morrow, Northern Ireland Politics, Longmon: London
Collectively (for all of the constituent members of the UK together) it may be sometimes be appropriate but use of the word "country", specifically in the case of Northern Ireland, is outright disputed by published reliable sources. It might suit those who want to push a certain POV on the Scotland and England articles to insist on "consistency" here (base on a synthesis of material being given undue weight) but in the case specifically of Northern Ireland it is not supported by published and reliable sources.
I find it shocking that a fair and neutral suggestion exists ("constituent country of the United Kingdom" or simply "part of the United Kingdom") but is opposed, presumable because it will bring down a house of cards with respect to horse-trading done to satisfy POVs elsewhere. Take it to the Scotland/England articles, it is not appropriate here. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 00:43, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
We all accept Northern Ireland is described as several different things, certainly more things than Scotland, Wales etc. However the sources are very clear, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are the Countries of the United Kingdom. To suddenly stop describing Northern Ireland as a country (not just in this introduction, but across wikipedia) will be problematic and time consuming. Country has been in the intro for many months now without a fuss, it should stay there. If country must be removed from this article, then it does raise serious questions about describing Scotland, Wales and England as countries today, and thats a debate im sure none of us want to get into again. BritishWatcher (talk) 01:01, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
The above sources all say in different ways from different backgrounds and perspectives that Northern Ireland is not a country, equally other sources, and in particular the official ones from the UK Government say it is. If (as it does) the statement makes it clear that it is a part of the United Kingdom, then there is no value in adding "constituent" and that word is not used in the bulk of official statements. --Snowded TALK 05:17, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
Can someone point me in the direction of the consensus that was reached to use "country" on the England, NI, Wales and Scotland articles? Is it somewhere in the UK Wikiproject archives? Stu ’Bout ye! 08:03, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
  • "If country must be removed from this article, then it does raise serious questions about describing Scotland, Wales and England as countries today." That is an issue for those articles, not this one. Horse-trading over on England and Scotland articles does not belong here.
Snowded, you are being disingenuous by relying on the generality (the UK) above the specific (Northern Ireland). "Country" may be an appropriate term for the other constituent members of the UK, and so a reasonable shorthand when talking about all four in general terms, but with specific regard to Northern Ireland (the subject of this article) it is beyond problematic and into the realm of plain and blatantly incorrect. You are placing a undue weight on oblique and indirect references in order to maintain what in terms of this subject is an extremist view. (I don't think you actually hold this extremist view but are an "accidental" proponent for reasons to do with other articles.) The references above speak specifically about Northern Ireland and explicitly state that the term "country" in relation to Northern Ireland is incorrect. Use of the term in broader UK context is not relevant to this article which deals with the specific of Northern Ireland. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 08:20, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
You have said a couple of times now that the references for the term "country" are oblique and indirect, including those from UK government websites. I'll give you one of those references and you can perhaps tell me why you think it's oblique and indirect. This one from the Number10.gov.uk (The official site of the Prime Ministers office) which says, countries within a country: The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Whether or not you, I, or individuals who have their books published disagree with that does not alter the fact that the United Kingdom government state that Northern Ireland is indeed a country within a country. Unless I'm sadly mistaken a sovereign country is permitted to call different parts of that country by whatever name they choose. How can that be undue weight? Jack forbes (talk) 09:16, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
When speaking about the UK in general terms. When speaking specifically about Northern Ireland, that sovereign country chooses to use terms other than "country" - for example "region" or "province". When speaking specifically about Northern Ireland that sovereign country eschews the word "country" - as do published authors. This article daels specifically with Northern Ireland. And when speaking specifically about Northern Ireland, published sources (both UK government and independent authors) eschew the word "country" as a word to describe Northern Ireland. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 09:31, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
If you can find government websites that specifically says that Northern Ireland is not a country then you may convince me, but pointing out those that don't use the term does not negate those that do. I also don't understand your use of the words general terms. What could be more specific than saying the UK is made up of four countries, one of those being Northern Ireland? Jack forbes (talk) 09:41, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
← What could be more simple? If the UK government referred specifically to Northern Ireland as being a country or if published and reliable sources did not flatly state that Northern Ireland is not a country. Quips and overviews from a government website do not trump reliable published sources. If in half an hour I could find 10 books that flatly stated that "Northern Ireland is not a country" then there is something seriously wrong in your interpretation of UK government websites. The matter it not as simple as you would try to make it out to be. Stop pushing ill-founded claims here to suit a POV on other articles. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 10:24, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
The intro reads as "is a country that is a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" with links to the country article and then the countries of the UK separately. What if we simply had the countries of the UK as the sole link and left out the simple country altogether? It wouldn't really leave out anything for the reader, would link to an appropriate article for further reading and might alleviate any controversy. Alastairward (talk) 10:58, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
Checking, do you mean "X is a country which is a part of the UKofGB&NI"? --Snowded TALK 19:42, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
Such "solutions" are very poor. The Wikimedia UI is only one of many ways that people access Wikipedia content. Wikipedia has also been officially published (i.e. by the Wikimedia Foundation) on CD-ROM and as a book. Third party publishers/redistributors of Wikipedia content (of which there are a great many, both commercial and non-commerical) will likely not use a UI that we are used to - whether they publish on a website, another digital form, in print or through another media. When we write an article, we need to write it from a technologically neutral perspective because we do not know how a reader will access it. The vast majority of readers access it through the Wikimedia UI. Children in an African village working of print-out sheets organised in binders, do not. These are the extemes of access that we have to bear in mind.
Thus, we cannot assume that a reader will be able to, never mind actually will, click a hyperlink to find out what we mean by a term. Even when using the "official" Wikipedia website, relying on a reader to hover over a link or to click on it to find out that we mean such-and-such rather than the some other is a very poor approach to article writing. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 00:01, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
The position appears to be that government sources etc that refer to Northern Ireland by itself never use the term country, or use it much less frequently than other terms like Province, but that the term countries is sometimes used when referring to the four components of the UK in aggregate. I propose that country is not used on NI pages and templates, other than in expanded discussion about terminology. The linked UK pages can continue to refer to countries of the UK, but with some material reflecting the reality that the NI situation is a bit different from the others. --Ardmacha (talk) 11:48, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
I oppose any change to the current wording and method of describing Northern Ireland, it is a Country of the United Kingdom and should be treated in the same way as England, Wales and Scotland. BritishWatcher (talk) 19:21, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
Her Majesty's Government has used the term country when talking about Northern Ireland on its own, rather than in general about the "Countries of the United Kingdom". This is one example from this year following the slaughter of 2 unarmed British soldiers by terrorists.
"Gordon Brown has stressed that the peace process in Northern Ireland is still working, as he visited the country following the deaths of two soldiers in a terrorist attack."
http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page18538
So describing Northern Ireland as a country is acceptable. BritishWatcher (talk) 19:30, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
In which case so too are "province" and "region". Yet anyone familiar with the topic would appreciate that those terms also carry baggage (albeit much less than "country"). The insistence on presenting a verifiably problematic and contentious term as indisputable fact in the face of reliable independent published sources to the contrary is bewildering. Particularly when more neutral terms exist (e.g. Stu and Red King suggestion to use "is a constituent country of the United Kingdom").
I see little way out of this in the face of intransigence despite the provision of plenty of sources to the contrary. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 23:48, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
You have no consensus for any change to the lead of this article. Any change will be reverted by myself and I imagine others will do the same. Jack forbes (talk) 23:54, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't? Stu, RedKing, Ardmacha, TharkunColl and myself are in consensus. Looking through the article history page it would seem we are suppoted by a great deal many more not present in this discussion. Those not in consensus, it would seem, are more concerned about the consequence it would have for the Scotland/England articles. That's irrelevant.
Where was the consensus to change the lede in the first place (to refer to NI as a "country")? I see from the article history that the change was contested as soon as it was put in. The change, it would seem, was kept in place through a series of reverts over a period of months on behalf of its protagonists. I see no discussion or agreement for the change on this talk page.
You are pushing a narrow POV that is directly contradicted by reliable published sources and has been contested by numerous editors of this page - both in the past and during this discussion. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 00:23, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
Ahhh come on Comra, leave it as 'country'; be a pal. GoodDay (talk) 00:11, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, GoodDay. The veracity of one article cannot be reduced to satisfy horse-trading done between POVs on another. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 00:23, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

A few points about proving the case for this change. If someone suggests that a phrase is non-neutral then they need to show that there is a range of terminology used and that this can differ with people's political opinion, this has been done. To defend a phrase as being neutral you'd have to argue that it was used by people of a wide range of political opinion, people defending the present terminology have not even attempted to do this, but have simply repeated ad nauseam that there are valid sources, which is not disputed. Secondly membership of a group means that it is valid to describe its members as being in that group, but not necessarily to describe members identity as primarily resulting from that group membership. You can have a page listing members of NATO, but you would not start off the French wikipedia page with France is a NATO. It is perfectly valid to state that Northern Ireland is a Constituent Country of the UK, when you are talking about Constituent Countries of the UK, but that is not the primary or only terminology used for NI and it should be not elevated above others, even if it were neutral, which it is not. The citations for the term Countries of the UK are official, but are not legislation or formal statements. The next UK government (or even this one) could produce a webpage listing England, Scotland, Wales and NI and calling them Components of the UK or something else. Does this mean that all of the Wikipedia pages then have to changed, does Scotland then become not a country? Wikipedia is an international resource, it should not put webpages on a par with descriptions provided by the many countries that have formal constitutions stating what things are. In this case most weight must to given to formal documents such as the Northern Ireland Act 1998 or the Good Friday Agreement where the government has formally made statements on NI. Lastly the Wikipedia Constituent country page has an excellent summary "Northern Ireland is usually referred to as a province and not a country but for simplification is informally referred to as a country when discussing the constituent countries of the UK." This means that it is reasonable to include it in a UK list, but that there is a range of terms used and so it is not appropriate to use this term in a NI page. --Ardmacha (talk) 01:33, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

Yup. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 01:45, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
I suggest that you stop this constant series of assertions about the motives of other editors in respect of this. The main discussions took place over a range of discussions and were summarised with supporting data at Countries of the United Kingdom. Yes, Northern Ireland is more problematic full stop for a range of reasons, not least of which is that its history as an independent anything is less than a hundred years. Constituent country is not in frequent use for any of the four, country is more frequently used for Scotland, Wales and England. Many editors (including myself) think that Northern Ireland should really be a part of Ireland, some are wedded to language that goes back to its formation. Its all messy and problematic, so in the end the UK Government official designation was used. I would also point out that the lede on all four articles (and yes I think consistency is a valid argument) makes it very clear that they are countries within the UK. --Snowded TALK 09:03, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
Thanks Ardmacha - I've now corrected the 'constituent countries' article. 86.167.198.134 (talk) 09:43, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
"Country" is not an "official description" defined for a subdivision of the UK, although it is quite commonly used. If you believe that it the "official description", please provide a supporting reference indicating where you believe this term is defined under UK law. Please make particular reference to Northern Ireland because with regard to Northern Ireland the word "region" or "province" are far more frequently used terms whereas "country" (as supported by a swarm of reliable published sources) is broadly considered inappropriate when speaking specifically about Northern Ireland.
The situation with regard to the choice of terms you would like to see used on the Scotland/England articles is, I agree, different.
Now, was there agreement on this page to use word "country" with regard to Northern Ireland? It's addition appears to have been contested since the first attempted to insert it into this article. Like Stu and RedKing suggest above, we should restore it to:
Although that too is problematic, e.g.:
"Use of the term constituent country is sometimes regarded as inappropriate when applied to Northern Ireland because some do not regard it as a country. Instead, some regard it as a province of the UK while others regard it as a part of the Province of Ulster in Ireland." - Global Encyclopedia of Political Geogrpahy, 2009
But it is at least it's slightly more neutral that the current version by moderating to some degree what type of "country" is meant. Leaving all such descriptions to the body of the article and simply stating "part of the United Kingdom" in the lede would be far better IMHO but I appreciate that pushing words like these into the lede (no matter how problematic) is **very** important for some editors. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 09:46, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
You have been pointed to references several times, the discussion took place here (and elsewhere) several times. You are bringing it up again, but as yet I have seen no new evidence. No one is challenging the language in connection with Norther Ireland is always contentious (you might remember the debates about the name of the article on Ireland as another example, where the form of your argument was somewhat different to the position adopted above). No one is saying that other terms are used (not just for Northern Ireland. However on balance, on all four countries the UK Government's designation was taken for the lede. I know that doesn't equate with your political position, it doesn't equate with mine either. But WIkipedia can't take sides on that one, so we go with the sovereign state responsible.--Snowded TALK 10:39, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
The "UK Government's designation"? Eh? What's that? I've been pointed to a UK government website (number10.gov.uk) that uses other terms (e.g. "province" and "region") - apparently more often - to refer to Northern Ireland.
New evidence? First, this change (to describe NI baldly as a "country") was contested from the very beginning. The evidence in support of it appears to be disproportionate weight being given to one page of a website (not even the rest of the same website where it says otherwise). Secondly, I have provided no less than 10 published verifiable references showing quotations from independent sources that flatly refute the description. (I find it odd that you described this number of references as being "far too many" elsewhere but seem to be oblivious to them here.)
Discussion took place here? I've looked through the archive. I cannot see it. Can you link to it please?
What I find strange is that you accept that the term is problematic with regard to Northern Ireland but you insist that it **has to** be used despite other (and no) descriptions being more neutral in this context. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 11:13, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
All terms in relationship to Northern Ireland are problematic and I doubt if anything neutral can be found - hence the citation table etc. elsewhere. You say above that you are happy with "constituent country", perhaps you can explain how that is different from "country which is a part of"? The archives are there for you to go through. As Mick said earlier this version has been stable for the best part of a year. --Snowded TALK 11:20, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
"All terms in relationship to Northern Ireland are problematic and I doubt if anything neutral can be found". I agree, and this can solve the problem, nothing neutral can be found so the lead should simply state "part of". End of problem, let's make the change and move on, rather than have a non-neutral phrase there because it is appropriate for other pages and because there is a desire for a consistency that does not exist in reality. --Ardmacha (talk) 13:37, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
  • "Which" (or "that", as is currently used) means that Northern Ireland is a country in its own right (independent of its relationship to the UK) and is (also) a part of the UK. That may be suitable for Scotland/England but it is not suitable for Northern Ireland. (The only other way that this sentence could make sense would be if you were defining a word that meant "a country that is part of the UK" e.g. Scotland is "Northern Ireland", England is "Northern Ireland" since Scotland and England are both "a country that is part of the UK").
  • WTR the disctinction between "country" and "constituent country", "constituent country" is helpful at least in the sense that it is a term that has specific meaning in terms of the UK. Using it (might) cause the reader to pause and consider what it means (as opposed to right now where they would go away thinking in bald terms that "Northern Ireland is a country", as if that were fact). --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 10:23, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
The language used is that that "X is a country which is a part of", so it is very very clear that it is not a sovereign state, That formulation was agreed to prevent a nationalist attempt to say that "X is a country" without mentioning the UK, and also to prevent attempts to denigrate the statement by Unionists. Its tautology to add in "constituent" in that formulation. --Snowded TALK 12:27, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
Compare:
  • Belgium is a country that is a part of BENELUX.
  • France is a country that is a part of Europe.
  • Spain is a country that is a part of the EU.
  • Italy is a country that is a part of the G8.
  • Northern Ireland is a country that is a part of the UK.
The current wording specifically states that "Northern Ireland is a country". Saying that that country is a "part of the UK" does not negate againts that statement.
This "formula" may work on Scotland/England. It does not work here. Nationalist horsetrading on other articles is no excuse to reduce the veracity of this one. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 12:56, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
My stance on this topic, has become neutral. The fact that my own country doesn't use identical descriptives for its internal divisions, has caused me to re-think 'all 4 consistant' views. GoodDay (talk) 18:38, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
The historical context of the above countries is very different as you are talking about geographical entities of formal political associations. The Netherlands does have some examples potentially similar to the UK, but the UK does appear to be different. I don't remember any "nationalist horse trading" in the previous discussions but a series attempt by many editors to resolve what had been a source of contention. The result of that work has stabilised debates for well over a year without objection. --Snowded TALK 02:36, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
The question above was one of the construction of a sentence. The current construction implies that Northern Ireland's asserted quality of being a "a country" is independent of it being "a part of the UK". That is incorrect under any understanding of "country" in relation to Northern Ireland.
With regard to stabilising debates, it may well have done so on other articles. On this article, I see on the history page that the term was challenged my numerous editors over a period of months from the offset. And regardless of "stability", the claim is incorrect and relies on a cherry picking of sources being read in a blinkered manner. What's more, it is being done so to satisfy debates on other articles, not here. It may be appropriate for Scotland and England, it is not appropriate for Northern Ireland - see the sources above and teh many other sources that describe Northern Ireland by other terms. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 02:59, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

Proposals

  1. Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann, Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and it is situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland.
  2. Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann, Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a constituent country of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and it is situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland.
  3. Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann, Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a region of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and it is situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland.
  4. Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann, Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a province of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and it is situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland.
  5. Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann, Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and it is situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. It has been called a country, province or region, with the choice of words reflecting one political perspective.[ref above]

They each as referensable as each other (although I doubt if "region" or "province" will have as many 'counter-references' as "country"). In all there is the option to write more about "what-to-call Northern Ireland" in the body of the article.

Considering that there are references WTR "province" that NI can be considered a equally "province" of "Ireland", and that there are a plethora of references that flatly refute "country", I think that either 1, 2 or 5 are the better choices ("region" dosen't really do it for me and I think would be contrary to the sensibilities of some). However, I don't think that 5 does justice to explaining the situation properly and I'd prefer leaving anything like this to the body of the article (i.e. go with 1). --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 10:23, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

Lmao i oppose any change to this articles introduction. If Scotland, Wales and England must be described as country's then Northern Ireland must aswell. If we want to open up a full debate on describing all the Countries of the United Kingdom then that article would be a good place to start. The current introduction is also well referenced. BritishWatcher (talk) 11:33, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
Scotland, Wales and England are differnt topics. This article is discussed here. Those articles are discussed there. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 13:00, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
"The current introduction is also well referenced". As I said the question is not the referencing of the current terminology, but its neutrality. Continuing references to validity and references don't address the point. Nor does discussion of other pages. The UK has assymetrical structures and wikipedia must reflect that. The NI page cannot proceed on the basis that everything has to be same as Scotland, or the ROI for that matter. Number 1. above is the one to use. The name of the State is the UK of GB and Northern Ireland, so it does not give the impression that NI is an inconsequential part, even if there is no clearly neutral terminology for what it is.--Ardmacha (talk) 22:34, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
Option 2 above is no different to the current form to any reader, in fact Country which is a part of the UK (also uses some of your option 1) does not require specialist knowledge of the meaning of constituent, and does not require a reader to follow a pipelink . The form of other articles on the various countries that form the United Kingdom is relevant give that we are talking about constitutional status. --Snowded TALK 01:55, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Talking about constitutional status? We are? Fantastic! So you can point to where in UK law (constitutional or otherwise) Northern Ireland is defined as being a "country". Remember, the UK government more frequently describes Northern Ireland as being a "province" or a "region" of the UK (even on that 10 Downing Street website you are determined to wear out with all your linking to it!).
Agree with much of what you say regarding "constituent country" - it's unsatisfactory as well. The constructions above don't use the "that is a part of" construction of the form used at present though (i.e. it doesn't imply that Northern Ireland being an "xxx" and being a "part of the UK" two are independent qualities merely coinciding.) --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 02:17, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
I think you should calm down a bit. As you should know the UK does not have a written constitution, but an emergent body of law and precedent/practice. What I (and other editors) are doing is simply pointing to a body of work and evidence that was carried out some time ago. I have also suggested here and elsewhere that qualifying notes and links may make sense, OK we have two editors who want to change that, I am trying to be polite in the response to that. --Snowded TALK 02:25, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Two? I count five in this discussion that say the term "country" is inappropriate (Stu, RedKing, Ardmacha, TharkunColl and myself). I also notice many more in the history of the page that challenged the insertion of the term in the article. Now, I appreciate that you may have prepared a "body of work and evidence". You will appreciate that as a part of that body of work Northern Ireland is explicitly described by other terms. I have also presented a body of evidence, one that flatly refutes the claim that Northern Ireland is a "country" as is claimed. I have critiqued your evidence as being flimsy and and not dealing with the topic directly or in any great depth. I have also critiqued it as relying on a cherry picking of sources - for example you regularly wheel out one page of a website that says things you like, while ignoring the many other pages that some things you don't like.
Now, what is the pressing need to describe Northern Ireland as a "country" when such a claim is refuted by other sources and when the one source you rely on so much also uses other terms (more frequently even that the term you prefer)? Is it necessary to describe Northern Ireland as a "country"? No. The same meaning can be expressed to our readers by saying it is a "region" or "province" of the UK. These are terms that the UK government also uses - even more frequently in relation to Northern Ireland - and which are more thoroughly supported by published sources. Another way could be to not describe it by such terms at all in the lede and simply say that it is "a part of the UK" or "a semi-autonomous part of the UK". It can be left to the body of the article - a far more appropriate place - to describe the constitutional details of this relationship, without recourse to inaccurate and misleading statements that are refuted by published sources. That way, everyone wins. Most of all, our readers. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 02:50, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, two who have actively continuing the debate recently. As to the prior discussion most of the work was done by an admin, I was one of many editors who were part of the discussion. I have regulrily referenced you to a table odf evidence and I have at times reference the UK Government use as having more status that several other sources. Using words like "wheeling out" and "worn path" is not helpful and is close to attempting to denigrate an editor rather than deal with content. I realise that you are not happy with this. As ever on articles to do with Britain and Ireland words have symbolic significance. However from the perspective of any reader saying "X is a country that is a part of" is very clear and one of your solutions"constituent country" if anything is less clear although it says exactly the same thing. My view is that the prior consensus, which was then established on all four pages (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) has reduced conflict, is supported by references and avoids confusion for readers We seem to be cycling through the same arguments. I will propose some amendments on constituent country later today (per discussion on that talk page) and make some other proposals there to try and deal with some of the objections here. --Snowded TALK 03:01, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, two who have actively continuing the debate recently. As to the prior discussion most of the work was done by an admin, I was one of many editors who were part of the discussion. I have regulrily referenced you to a table odf evidence and I have at times reference the UK Government use as having more status that several other sources. Using words like "wheeling out" and "worn path" is not helpful and is close to attempting to denigrate an editor rather than deal with content. I realise that you are not happy with this. As ever on articles to do with Britain and Ireland words have symbolic significance. However from the perspective of any reader saying "X is a country that is a part of" is very clear and one of your solutions"constituent country" if anything is less clear although it says exactly the same thing. My view is that the prior consensus, which was then established on all four pages (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) has reduced conflict, is supported by references and avoids confusion for readers We seem to be cycling through the same arguments. I will propose some amendments on constituent country later today (per discussion on that talk page) and make some other proposals there to try and deal with some of the objections here. --Snowded TALK 03:01, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
The current copy is very clear. Clarity does not equal correctness. While we want both, we do not favour things that are clear but incorrect.
You have directed me to a table of references. That table also refer to Northern Ireland by other terms. The references in that table used to support use of "country" for individual constituent members of the UK are recycled from references to the constituent members of the UK collectively (doubling them up in effect), in a manner that makes it look like the word "country" has more support than it actually does. I have added a row of references that flatly refute use the term of country specificially in relation to Northern Ireland. I see no references that directly advocates use of the word country specifically in relation to Northern Ireland.
One of the reasons I am denigrating your approach to references is because of your cherry picking approach to them. For example, you refer to one page of web page as "having more status tha[n] several other sources" while at the same time diverting your eyes when the very same website more frequently uses other words - words you don't want to hear.
Words do have symbolic significance in articles relating to Britain and Ireland. They also have a prosaic and literal meaning. In the case of calling Northern Ireland a "country", it fails on both counts - it is neither true in a prosaic and literal manner nor it is neutral (or even satisfactory) in terms of its significances with regard to the topic. This is different from, say, Scotland or England because the same words signify different things in relation to the different parts of the UK and Ireland. The different parts also have different histories so what is prosaicly and literally true about one place is not true about another.
You keep telling me that this has reduced conflict (yet have ignored the evidient and immediate rejection of the term evidience by the page history). All the time references are to the usefullness of this copy for other articles. I'm interested only in it's veracity for this one.
Please link to where use of the term was agreed upon. It was not agreed on this talk page and was opposed in the page history. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 08:59, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
See comment in section below, then check the history of this page from when the change was made and the couple of attempts made to change it. Given that the term has been used on this page for the best part of year your "evident and immediate rejection" is hardly accurate. --Snowded TALK 03:07, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I would have a preference for rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid's second proposal (from the list above). Really, we're breaking our backs over the use of this one word, "country", when the use of constituent country adequately defines NI geographically and politically. What would the average reader lose from a lead paragraph without the word "country" in it? Alastairward (talk) 17:58, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm confused...you ask "what would the average reader lose from a lead paragraph without the word "country" in it" but you don't actually want to remove the word 'country' - just add the word 'constituent' in front of it. But a 'constituent country' is a 'country' that is part of something bigger! 86.150.200.37 (talk) 19:48, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I hope you're not being deliberately obtuse. They're two different terms and link to two different articles, hence the point of having one rather than both. Alastairward (talk) 23:26, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

"Consensus"

In the above discussion, repeated references were made to a agreed consensus. References to an agreed consensus has also been made many times in the reversion history in the article history. Both myself and Stu asked for link to this consensus, to no avail. Looking around I can only find:

Am I missing something? Where is the agreed consensus to use "country" (or to have "consistency")? --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 22:54, 30 October 2009 (UTC)


There has never been consensus. The UK wide discussion has largely proceeded ignoring NI completely, but when it was mentioned it was as often regarded as an exception. The issue arose in the NI discussion several times without consensus. The proper solution is to use a neutral term, and explain the range of terminology in a footnote or elsewhere in the text. If a simple neutral term such as part of or constituent part of is used and people do not try to replace it with contentious terms then the matter will be put to rest. --Ardmacha (talk) 02:27, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

There was a mediation cabal request which finally resolved the use of country across the UK, and that solution was then moved onto the four pages involved over a fairly short period of time. The results of the mediation were summarised in a new article Countries of the United Kingdom. The current wording has stood on all of those pages for some time. Yes it is more controversial in respect of NI than in the case of Scotland, Wales and England, but it is used (as stated before) by the UK government including the Office for National Statistics: "In the context of the UK, each of the four main subdivisions (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) is referred to as a country". Any term is controversial, I like many think that Northern Ireland should not be a country, but given all of the controversies we should go with what the sovereign state use on its web site and in the last census where "country of birth" included Northern Ireland as an option. --Snowded TALK 03:03, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Can you link to it? The mediation request I see ended in no resolution. Opposition to the wording has been revered continually by a small number of editors to the effect that it is an agreed consensus. Where was it agreed? Provide a link.
Also, please stop cherry-picking sources, there are as many sources to support "province" or "region" or "part" as anything else. Indeed the last copy that you reverted was a word-for-word copy of how Northern Ireland is described on the 10 Downing Street website you keep wheeling out: "Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom..." --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 10:16, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Suggestion

To some extent we are at stalemate. We are agreed that "country" is used, that other terms are used, that all terms are controversial. Its important for anyone coming to this page to realise that language has major symbolic significance - its an almost unique aspect of the North. So leave the first sentence in its current form, add a second sentence which is a variation, or by amenemdnt of talk:Rannpháirtí's original change on Constituent Country but with a wider reference to the use and significance of symbolic language? --Snowded TALK 08:03, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

The wording that was reverted was as follows:
Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann, Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland[2]...

2 In common with the other constituent parts of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland is sometimes referred to as a "country" (example). The UK government also refers specifically to Northern Ireland as being a "province" (UK: example; NI: example) or a "region" (UK: example; NI: example). Regardless of the choice of term, it is likely to be unsatisfactory and can imply a preferred political perspective:
  • "One problem must be adverted to in writing about Northern Ireland. This is the question of what name to give to the various geographical entities. These names can be controversial, with the choice often revealing one's political preferences. ... some refer to Northern Ireland as a 'province'. That usage can arouse irritation particularly among nationalists, who claim the title 'province' should be properly reserved to the four historic provinces of Ireland-Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connacht. If I want to a label to apply to Northern Ireland I shall call it a 'region'. Unionists should find that title as acceptable as 'province': Northern Ireland appears as a region in the regional statistics of the United Kingdom published by the British government." - J. Whyte and G. FitzGerald, 1991, Interpreting Northern Ireland, Oxford University Press: Oxford
  • "One specific problem - in both general and particular senses - is to know what to call Northern Ireland itself: in the general sense, it is not a country, or a province, or a state - although some refer to it contemptuously as a statelet: the least controversial word appears to be jurisdiction, but this might change." - S. Dunn and H. Dawson, 2000, An Alphabetical Listing of Word, Name and Place in Northern Ireland and the Living Language of Conflict, Edwin Mellen Press: Lampeter
  • "Next - what noun is appropriate to Northern Ireland? 'Province' won't do since one-third of the province is on the wrong side of the border. 'State' implies more self-determination than Northern Ireland has ever had and 'country' or 'nation' are blatantly absurd. 'Colony' has overtones that would be resented by both communities and 'statelet' sounds too patronizing, though outsiders might consider it more precise than anything else; so one is left with the unsatisfactory word 'region'." - D. Murphy, 1979, A Place Apart, Penguin Books: London</ref> and it is situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. It shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west. At the time of the 2001 UK Census, its population was 1,685,000, constituting between a quarter and a third of the island's total population and about 3% of the population of the United Kingdom.
Snowded, what is it that you find incorrect about this? The phrasing used is verbatium copy of how Northern Ireland is described on that 10 Downing Street webpage you keep wheeling out:"Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom..."
Your approach is based on a cherry picking of sources. The copy you oppose is neutral, source-based and explains the issue clearly, factually and fairly. If there are specific issues with it then critique it. Don't just say, "I don't like it". --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 10:29, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I think you are missing the point somewhat, and use of phrases like cherry picking" and "I don;t like it" really do not help move things forward as well as being untrue. There were many alternative words which could have been chosen for all four "countries", but a lot of work went into finding one that worked. That work was done precisely because there was no one clearly correct solution, and its the reason that the position of a common lede sentence on the four articles concerned has been defended by a broad range of editors over the last year I agree that NI is more problematic and proposed adding a phrase to make it clear - you can't after all dispute that it is called a country. How about having a look at that idea. --Snowded TALK 10:26, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Where was this work done? You say there was an agreed consensus. Where was it agreed? There's no such consensus in the discussions linked to above. Even if there was, the proposal to use the contentious wording (in the Mediation Cabal discussion) specifically excluded Northern Ireland. Your preferred wording has been continually opposed and continually reverted to with the response is that it is a wording that carries consensus. Please link to where the consensus occurred. Otherwise, I will assume from here on that there never was any such consensus.
"...you can't after all dispute that it is called a country." Our opinions don't matter a fig. Only published sources matter. I have already furnished 10 quotes from 10 published and reliable sources that do just that ... explicitly (i.e. they say word-for-word that, "Northern Ireland is not a country"). I have also provided sources that explain the issues involved and advice against calling Northern Ireland a "country" ("blatantly absurd", says one; "not a country" says another; the third doesn't even appear to consider it as a valid term). The UK government more commonly uses other words when specifically referring to Northern Ireland and the NI executive appears to always use other terms - either "province" or "region".
This is why I say you are cherry picking: you're argument in defined by a narrow reading of a few choice references and requires that every other source be ignored (or different pages of the same source be ignored - or even different parts of the same page be ignored!).
We are not here to cherry pick sources. We must be neutral. The wording I propose above is just that. You still have not critiqued it or said how it is incorrect. You're right, your argument is not a case of "I don't like it" - it's a case of "I like it". I, on the other hand, have provided 10 sources that reliable explicitly refute the claim you support, provided counter examples of where your preferred sources use other terms (apparently more frequently), and supplied further sources that discuss the issues involved and advice against your choice of words. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 21:42, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
You have provided sources which show it is controversial, one of them uses "blatantly absurd". Unfortunately the UK Government, on its web site and on its census forms uses the word country. The current version has been in this article now for the best part of a year, there have been a couple of attempts to change it, but they did not attract support. Check the edit history. Ideally try and accept a compromise. --Snowded TALK 21:53, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

Try a straw poll. See who prefers 'country & who prefers 'province' & we'll see which way the winds are blowing. GoodDay (talk) 22:10, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

Since we have had a stable intro for about a year, it is for those few editors who are unhappy to demonstrate that a concensus exists for a change to a specified alternative. Who is saying that 'province' is the most widely supported alternative? All alternatives should be included - then see what emerges as the most supported view. 86.153.144.166 (talk) 22:18, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
@Snowded - The UK government more frequently uses other terms when referring specifically to Northern Ireland. Reliable sources advice against foolhardily choosing one term or another and explicitly refute calling Northern Ireland a "country". The wording has been challenged in the article history for as long as it has been here - and the answer has always been that the wording arose from an agreed consensus. You have not provided a link to any such discussion despite repeated requests. I will assume that there has never been any such "consensus".
@GoodDay and *.*.*.166 - I think that's the only way forward. See below, I will advertise it also on the usual UK and Ireland related pages. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 22:52, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

RFC: calling Northern Ireland a "country"

The Northern Ireland article currently describes Northern Ireland as being a "country". This has been contested since it's first insertion in the article over a year ago. Other wordings have been reverted with the claim that describing Northern Ireland as a "country" is part of an agreed consensus (the same wording is used on the England, Scotland and Wales articles). Despite requests for a link to where such a consensus took place, no link has been provided by proponents of the current wording. Possible locations include:

The UK government does describe the constituent parts of the UK as "countries" but more frequently describes Northern Ireland (particularly when speaking specificially about Northern Ireland) as a "province" or a "region". The Northern Ireland Executive (from what can be seen) always refers to Northern Ireland as a "province" or "region". Published source advise caution in the choice of term to use in relation to Northern Ireland. Many explicitly advise not to use "country":

Example references that discuss the choice of term to call Northern Ireland (including ones that explicitly advise against "country"):
  • "One problem must be adverted to in writing about Northern Ireland. This is the question of what name to give to the various geographical entities. These names can be controversial, with the choice often revealing one's political preferences. ... some refer to Northern Ireland as a 'province'. That usage can arouse irritation particularly among nationalists, who claim the title 'province' should be properly reserved to the four historic provinces of Ireland-Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connacht. If I want to a label to apply to Northern Ireland I shall call it a 'region'. Unionists should find that title as acceptable as 'province': Northern Ireland appears as a region in the regional statistics of the United Kingdom published by the British government." - J. Whyte and G. FitzGerald, 1991, Interpreting Northern Ireland, Oxford University Press: Oxford
  • "One specific problem - in both general and particular senses - is to know what to call Northern Ireland itself: in the general sense, it is not a country, or a province, or a state - although some refer to it contemptuously as a statelet: the least controversial word appears to be jurisdiction, but this might change." - S. Dunn and H. Dawson, 2000, An Alphabetical Listing of Word, Name and Place in Northern Ireland and the Living Language of Conflict, Edwin Mellen Press: Lampeter
  • "Next - what noun is appropriate to Northern Ireland? 'Province' won't do since one-third of the province is on the wrong side of the border. 'State' implies more self-determination than Northern Ireland has ever had and 'country' or 'nation' are blatantly absurd. 'Colony' has overtones that would be resented by both communities and 'statelet' sounds too patronizing, though outsiders might consider it more precise than anything else; so one is left with the unsatisfactory word 'region'." - D. Murphy, 1979, A Place Apart, Penguin Books: London
Example references refute calling Northern Ireland a "country":
  • "Although a seat of government, strictly speaking Belfast is not a 'capital' since Northern Ireland is not a 'country', at least not in the same sense that England, Scotland and Wales are 'countries'." - J Morrill, 2004, The promotion of knowledge: lectures to mark the Centenary of the British Academy 1992-2002, Oxford University Press: Oxford
  • "Not a country in itself, Northern Ireland consists of six of the thirty-two original counties of Ireland, all part of the section of that island historically known as Ulster." - J V Til, 2008, Breaching Derry's walls: the quest for a lasting peace in Northern Ireland, University Press of America
  • "Northern Ireland is not a country in itself, but a small fragment torn from the living body of Ireland where now the last act of its long struggle for independence is being played out." - W V Shannon, Northern Ireland and America's Responsibility in K M. Cahill (ed), 1984, The American Irish revival: a decade of the Recorder, 1974-1983, Associated Faculty Press
  • "Northern Ireland (though of course not a country) was the only other place where terrorism can be said to have achieved a comparable social impact." - M Crenshaw, 1985, An Organizational Approach to the Analysis of Political Terrorism in Orbis, 29 (3)
  • "The study compare attitudes in Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, the UK, Holland, Ireland, Italy and West Germany. It also includes Northern Ireland, which of course is not a country." - P Kurzer, 2001, Markets and moral regulation: cultural change in the European Union, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge
  • "As I see it, I'm an Irish Unionist. I'm Irish, that's my race if you like. My identify is British, because that it the way I have been brought up, and I identify with Britain and there are historical bonds, psychological bonds, emotional bonds, all the rest of it you know. ... Bit to talk of independence in Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland is not a country, Northern Ireland is a province of Ireland and it is a province in the UK and I think that the notion of a national identity or group identity or racial identity or cultural identity here is a nonsense." - Michael McGimpsey quoted in F. Cochrane, 2001, Unionist politics and the politics of Unionism since the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Cork University Press: Cork
  • "Moreover, Northern Ireland is a province, not a country. Even before direct rule, many of the decisions affecting the economy, labour law, and wage bargaining were in reality taken in London, thereby diminishing the importance of local control." A Aughey, 1996, Duncan Morrow, Northern Ireland Politics, Longmon: London

The current copy (including footnote) reads as follows:

Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann, Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a country that is a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland[2]...


References

2 The Countries of the UK statistics.gov.uk, accessed 10 October, 2008. The Northern Ireland Act 1998 describes Northern Ireland as "part of the United Kingdom". The term "constituent country" is sometimes applied to Northern Ireland by Unionists and British sources.[3] "Accountability Meetings". Archived from the original on 2005-04-10. .

A number of previous proposals have been made - both over the last week-and-a-half and since the contested wording was inserted in the page. These have all been reverted to the above version.

The last proposed version (including footnote) reads as follows:

Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann, Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland[2]...


References

2 In common with the other constituent parts of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland is sometimes referred to as a "country" (example). The UK government also refers specifically to Northern Ireland as being a "province" (UK: example; NI: example) or a "region" (UK: example; NI: example). Regardless of the choice of term, it is likely to be unsatisfactory and can imply a preferred political perspective:

  • "One problem must be adverted to in writing about Northern Ireland. This is the question of what name to give to the various geographical entities. These names can be controversial, with the choice often revealing one's political preferences. ... some refer to Northern Ireland as a 'province'. That usage can arouse irritation particularly among nationalists, who claim the title 'province' should be properly reserved to the four historic provinces of Ireland-Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connacht. If I want to a label to apply to Northern Ireland I shall call it a 'region'. Unionists should find that title as acceptable as 'province': Northern Ireland appears as a region in the regional statistics of the United Kingdom published by the British government." - J. Whyte and G. FitzGerald, 1991, Interpreting Northern Ireland, Oxford University Press: Oxford
  • "One specific problem - in both general and particular senses - is to know what to call Northern Ireland itself: in the general sense, it is not a country, or a province, or a state - although some refer to it contemptuously as a statelet: the least controversial word appears to be jurisdiction, but this might change." - S. Dunn and H. Dawson, 2000, An Alphabetical Listing of Word, Name and Place in Northern Ireland and the Living Language of Conflict, Edwin Mellen Press: Lampeter
  • "Next - what noun is appropriate to Northern Ireland? 'Province' won't do since one-third of the province is on the wrong side of the border. 'State' implies more self-determination than Northern Ireland has ever had and 'country' or 'nation' are blatantly absurd. 'Colony' has overtones that would be resented by both communities and 'statelet' sounds too patronizing, though outsiders might consider it more precise than anything else; so one is left with the unsatisfactory word 'region'." - D. Murphy, 1979, A Place Apart, Penguin Books: London

The main contenders for what to describe Northern Ireland as are:

  • "country"
  • "province"
  • "region"
  • "constituent country"
  • "part of the UK"

The discussion (see above) is at a deadlock and external input is welcomed. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 22:52, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

Discussion

The word "country", used to describe Northern Ireland in the current lead, is used by many reliable sources, including:

  • The Library of Congress: "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the collective name of four countries, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The four separate countries were united under a single Parliament through a series of Acts of Union.";
  • 10 Downing Street: "The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland";
  • Commonwealth Secretariat: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) is a union of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland;
  • European Commission: The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Northern Ireland is defined as a country. Countries are not necessarily defined as sovereign. Whether you consider Northern Ireland to be a country or not, the threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is 'verifiability, not truth'. Whichever word is chosen to describe Northern Ireland in the lead sentence of the lead paragraph, some editor or other will disagree with it, wanting their preferred option. The current lead may, or may not, be the best descriptor, but it has been stable for over a year and should stay as it is. Daicaregos (talk) 23:50, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

The UK is commonly described as being made up of four countries. But when speaking specifically about Northern Ireland (and not all four the constituent members of the UK in one breath), it is unusual to call Northern Ireland a "country". For examples the sources you cite above, when they go to talk about Northern Ireland specifically (the ones that do) use other wording:
  • 10 Downing Street: "Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom..."
  • Commonwealth Secretariat: "...Great Britain, comprises three countries: England, Scotland and Wales. Ireland, to the west, consists of the UK’s province of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic."
The 10 Downing Street site, as an example, almost invariable refers to Northern Ireland as either a "province" or a "region" when speaking specifically about Northern Ireland specifically. The sources cited above explaining the situation further substantiate this (verifiability, not truth).
Also, I think saying the current copy has been "stable" is disingenuous. The "Troubles" ruling may have had a chilling effect and so prevent editing warring, but the article history page and repeated discussions in Archive 6 testify to the that. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 01:01, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

OK, here is how it looks to me:

  • "country": I see how this will be offensive to many Irish people. I guess de facto it's about as correct for Northern Ireland as it is for the other big parts of the UK. (Main difference: For the others the hard question is whether they are themselves countries or part of the country UK. For Northern Ireland the hard question is whether it's itself a country, or part of the country UK, or part of the country Ireland.) However, that means it's basically not correct under most reasonable definitions of the term. It's just that the term as applied to England, Wales and Scotland is attractive for regionalist and basically not offensive to anyone.
  • "constituent country": Slightly better than "country". Due to the context this should be less offensive: A "constituent country" need not be a country, and there is no real definition for the term. If we interpret it as "country in relation to the UK" then this term effectively captures those relations to the UK which the Kingdom of Ireland once had and which NI inherited for its territory. Thus the term is also slightly more correct.
  • "part of the UK": There is no doubt that this is a correct description and it should be trivial to source. Also it shouldn't be offensive to anyone. It's just a bit deficient in descriptiveness. (London and the Pennines are also parts of the UK.)
  • "province": Under a standard dictionary definition of the term that would be excellent. In this sense it's technically correct and shouldn't offend anyone. The problem is that there is also a historical technical meaning of "province". It's not surprising that introducing a new meaning for the term "province" is offensive to some, and it's arguably incorrect to use the term in this sense.
  • "region": Like "province", under a standard dictionary definition it's clearly correct. The problem is that it suggests a much smaller degree of separate identity when compared to the UK (or the island). Thus it's not entirely correct because it comes with the wrong connotations. It's probably not offensive to anyone. It's more descriptive than "part of the UK", but that's actually misleading.
  • "jurisdiction": It's proposed by one of the sources, and I really like it. I think this reflects the degree of separation of Northern Ireland from both the UK and Ireland very well. It clearly describes the de facto situation, so nobody should be offended by it. It's also correct and descriptive.

Altogether, my preferences are jurisdiction > part of the UK > region > province or constituent country > country. Hans Adler 00:46, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

I agree with Daicaregos - an argument could be made in favour of a number of terms, but highly significant sources such as those listed above describe Northern Ireland as one of the four countries of the UK. There is no consensus to change to something else so I say leave it as it has been for the best part of a year. Cheers Fishiehelper2 (talk) 00:53, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
The statement of the problem is not strictly accurate. A long running series of battles on several articles about the use of country, ended in a resolution that was agreed and documented at a new article Countries of the United Kingdom. It was first implemented on England and Wales, followed by Scotland and Northern Ireland. In each case with discussion. The common sentence for all four articles in the lede is properly sourced to UK Government sources an has now being maintained for a year with only occasional and short lived challenges. The term is more controversial in the case of Northern Ireland where any term used will have problems with one group or another. Hence the final decision to go with the Sovereign State and other related material as prime sources ((as per Daicaregos above). The net result has been a stable position on the ledes of all four articles for a year. It has been proposed that an additional sentence should be added to Northern Ireland to make the controversial nature of all language clear. --Snowded TALK 02:21, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
  • "...ended in a resolution..." - Please link to this resolution. You've been asked many times to do so. The idea that this was ever agreed to seems now like a myth without any genuine substance (in the case of Northern Ireland at least).
  • "It was first implemented on England and Wales, followed by Scotland and Northern Ireland. In each case with discussion." Please link to where it was agreed to in discussion. This claim is repeated again and again but the archives of this page tell a different story. You fibbing, I think. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 09:03, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

There is nothing wrong with the currect wording. Give it up. Simply 'part of' is certainly not neutral or accurate. MickMacNee (talk) 02:47, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

? - "Part of" is how the 10 Downing Street website describes Northern Ireland: "Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom..." Published reliable sources say that (in the case specifcially of Northern Ireland) "country" is not neutral or correct (these souces are given above). The UK government (and the NI Executive) use other terms when speaking specifically about Northern Ireland. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 09:13, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Note, however, that the very same page also says 'The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.'.... Matthew (talk) 16:57, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
That's a point I've made above - that there is a selective reading of sources going on. My point here is in direct response to the claim that "'part of' is certainly not neutral or accurate" when the same editor had directed editors to that same page on the 10 Downing Street as evidence in support of "country". --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 19:33, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

This has not only been discussed before, but discussed so many times that there is an FAQ on it at Talk:United Kingdom. Q4 for those interested. Country is correct and well-referenced. DJ Clayworth (talk) 03:05, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

For the constituent parts of the UK taken together. When speaking about Northern Ireland specifically, "country" is unusual. The UK government normally use other terms. The NI Executive always uses other terms (from what can be seen). Published sources advise using other terms - and many flatly say that NI is "not a country". All of these references are above to be seen. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 09:13, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
If NI can be described as a country when talking about all parts of the UK, then it doesn't miraculously become something else when the discussion is only about NI. Once again, check the FAQ and the references attached thereto. DJ Clayworth (talk) 14:21, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Such is what common sense might tell you. Verifiable sources testify to another story. See what is cited above. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 14:33, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

I am not seeing any real arguments why we must define Northern Ireland as a country in the first sentence, while there are excellent arguments against. Nevertheless a clear majority of editors commenting here argue for this, claiming prior consensus without pointing to a specific discussion. This seems very odd to me. I will leave a message at the POV noticeboard to invite wider participation. Hans Adler 11:30, 2 November 2009 (UTC)


There is no need to introduce linguistic artifice to this article's opening sentence. The existing description is accurate and more than adequately sourced. FWIW, the Good Friday Agreement also refers to The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland [4]Leaky Caldron 12:34, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

part of the United Kingdom is entirely neutral and accurate, as it does not preclude the other terms, which can explained in discussion or footnotes. It is used in the Good Friday agreement, while the word country does not appear in the GFA. The process leading to the Good Friday Agreement and the establishment of devolved government in NI was a long and protracted one and great care has been taken with the use of language. Yet here in Wikipedialand it seems that all of this can be ignored on the say so of half a dozen editors, whose interests largely lie in what the components of GB are called. As for the point that the likes of Yorkshire is also part of the UK; Northern Ireland is included in the name of the State, it is the UK of GB and NI, and so is clearly a significant component even in the absence of further definition and it is not likely to be confused with an English county. --Ardmacha (talk) 14:02, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

For those of us having this discussion for the eighth or ninth time it's pretty tedious. If you really want to look at previous discussions, almost any archive from Talk:United Kingdom has a discussion related to it. For a specific archive of constituent country naming, see Talk:United_Kingdom/Subdivision_name_archive_1. DJ Clayworth (talk) 14:48, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
I've linked to that discussion above in the introduction. It ends in recourse to the Mediation Cabal, which in turn ends in no consensus. At around the same time the issue of calling NI a country was also discussed at length here (see Archive 6). It too ended in no consensus. These were all linked to in the introduction. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 15:13, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
(ec) It seems that the BBC sees it similarly. Let's look at their "country profiles". Note that they are not doing Northern Ireland under "A Guide to Europe", which offers a choice of countries and a choice of territories. They are doing it under "Guide to United Kingdom", which offers a choice of - um, well, they are not saying what they are, but there are five of them including the entire UK itself.
  • The profile for Northern Ireland [5] does not contain the word "country".
  • The profile for England [6] casually refers to England, Scotland and Wales as countries. Where it also mentions Northern Ireland, it refers to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as "constituent parts of the United Kingdom".
  • The profiles for Scotland [7] and Wales [8] casually refer to the respective subject as a country. Neither mentions Northern Ireland.
  • The profile for the UK [9] casually refers to the UK as a country. It says that the UK "is made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland", leaving open what these parts actually are. Hans Adler 14:56, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Just to be clear, listing references that refer to NI as something other than a country, or do not refer to it as a country, is NOT evidence that it is incorrect to refer to it as a country. It just means they chose to refer to it as something else. DJ Clayworth (talk) 15:06, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Correct. That's why in the introduction to the RFC there are 10 references listed that explictly state that Northern Ireland is "not a country". In the introduction also others are provided that explain the issues involved, two of which explicity advise againist that Northern Ireland is "not a country". The UK government - and in particular the Northern Ireland Executive - describe Northern Ireland (specifically) using other terms (particularly "region" or "province"). --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 16:08, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Conversely, listing references that do refer to NI as a country does not establish (1) that it is NPOV to see NI as a country, or (2) that even supposed it is a country this is information of the kind that must appear in the lead under the constraints of encyclopedic brevity. E.g. take the following quotation from a UK government funded "Glossary of Terms on Northern Ireland Conflict" [10]Hans Adler 15:11, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
(ec)Exactly, there have and always will be multiple terms used for non-soverign countries. In a case with multiple options then choices have to be made, and it has always seemed to me that the UK Government web site and (critically the census forms) win out over books etc. Given the political controversy this also gives a position which is not based on an opinion (even if that opinion is in a respectable book). Adding an explanatory sentence to indicate the differences around NI (as per agreement reached on Constituent Countries between myself and RA would handle any ambiguity. --Snowded TALK 15:15, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Regardless of the problem that a UK government source is hardly automatically NPOV on a political question concerning NI, you are ignoring a huge problem: Context. It's OK to refer to 50 nurses as "50 women" if they include one male nurse. It's not OK to refer to the one male nurse as a "woman". What's so hard to understand about this? Hans Adler 15:32, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
It was said to you already - you are cherry picking your sources. The UK government does not trump reliable published sources - but even if they did, they also refer to Northern Ireland specifically as being a "province" or a "region". Stop cherry picking. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 16:14, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
"Northern Ireland is the official name of the region created by the Government of Ireland Act (1920). Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom. The region consists of six (Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh, and Tyrone) of the 32 counties of Ireland. Northern Ireland is often referred to as the 'Six Counties' by Nationalists, a term to which many Unionists take exception. The counties of Northern Ireland were (and remain) part of the historical province of Ulster which consisted of nine counties (the other three being Cavan, Donegal, and Monaghan). Most Unionists refer to Northern Ireland as 'Ulster' or the 'Province', two terms which many Nationalists take exception to."
Do you notice which word is missing here? Hans Adler 15:11, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
There is no dispute that country is not always used --Snowded TALK 15:16, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Then why do we have to use it? It seems that the most reliable sources, when they describe specifically Northern Ireland, generally take pains to avoid the term "country". But it's necessary and NPOV for us to use the term? Why? What's so different at this article when compared to the BBC profile on Northern Ireland? Hans Adler 15:35, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
For the many reasons stated above, especially the simple fact that the UK Government is more authoritative than the BBC in this respect (or various text books discussing the Troubles). --Snowded TALK 16:23, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
”Part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland occupying the northeastern portion of the island of Ireland.” [11]
But we don’t write in the same style as Britannica! Leaky Caldron 16:35, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Seriously, people. Now I don't know whether to award the prize for the most stupid non-argument to (1) referring to the 0 (zero) reasons stated above why we have to use the word "country" in prominent position as "many reasons", or for (2) for the claim that we follow a uniform style which, unfortunately, prevents us from following NPOV.
Are we here to edit an encyclopedia or are we playing a game? *looks around suspiciously* Is there a hidden camera somewhere?
When I saw that most here insist on "country" I fully expected to hear convincing arguments that make me change my mind. I found two of the references cited by Rannpháirtí anaithnid to be selective quoting and less convincing on inspection than they appeared to be. But that wasn't enough. If this travesty continues I am certainly not going to change my mind, since my own research hasn't brought up anything that supports your opinion. Hans Adler 17:03, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Read WP:AGF please. Some of us have been through this argument many times before and are not playing games. --Snowded TALK 17:09, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

Instead of reading WP:AGF (which I know well enough, thank you) I have read substantial parts of the archives of this talk page. Now if I am getting this right, the following happened:

  • In October 2007, "constituent country" was added to the article. [12]
  • In September 2008, Setanta747 changed this to "country". Edit summary was "consistency throughout four articles", which was insufficient justification and misleading for a predictably contentious change. [13] This went unnoticed for a few weeks, but led to lengthy disputes later.
  • In November 2008, Redking7 tried to restore the local consensus version. There was a dispute between Redking7 and Snoded about which was the status quo. [14]
  • The matter came up again in December 2008 [15] In the course of this discussion, Fishiehelper2 made a very clear admission of what this is about: "Country" without "constituent" is being pushed precisely to push the POV that NI is a country. [16] The discussion ended with Snowded's appeal to get a consensus for change before changing the status quo. (I.e. the recent one that was the result of a change without consensus.)

Very interesting. I guess saying that the present status quo is the result of foul play would be overstating it, but it doesn't look good. Hans Adler 18:19, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

The accusations are starting to wear a bit thin here. I've been a part of lots of these discussions before - see my links to previous ones, and the references to support the current wording. Fishiehelper2 doesn't speak for me, a there is certainly nothing political here on my part. DJ Clayworth (talk) 18:33, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't mind being quoted but I object when my quote is 'interpreted' in a way that I believe is unfair. What I actually said was "I'm afraid that the phrase 'constituent country' is controversial precisely because it is often used to imply that a country is not a country because it is only a 'constituent country'. The problem occurs when the whole phrase is used as a noun, rather than as an adjective followed by a noun. To illustrate, there is a difference between calling Northern Ireland a constituent country and a constituent country. Hope that is helpful! Cheers Fishiehelper2 (talk) 15:36, 22 December 2008 (UTC)" Far from trying to push a POV, I was trying to protect the existing version against others trying to push their POV that Northern Ireland is somehow not one of the four countries of the United Kingdom! Cheers Fishiehelper2 (talk) 18:52, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Sorry for having misunderstood your intent. It sounded to me as if you objected to the fact that the term "constituent country" can be made to agree with either POV, depending on how you parse it. I am still not sure what you actually meant if not that, but on rereading everything it's very clear that you weren't pushing anything in that discussion, just being very helpful. Sorry for my mistake. Hans Adler 19:09, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
(ec) Fair enough. Perhaps I have brought the message home that this question has a POV dimension that doesn't go away just because some editors aren't interested in it and would prefer to ignore it. The desire to make 4 articles on 4 very different entities start with almost the same words is simply irrelevant compared to POV concerns. There was a stable compromise version in the past – "constituent country" can be read as a country that happens to be a constituent, or as a specific term for the 4 entities making up the UK; this makes it politically acceptable to all but hardliners who want to deny the existence of opposing POVs. An undiscussed edit changed this to a POV version, and since the change was undetected for a bit over a month that POV version was then defended basically on the merits of its being the status quo. But it just doesn't work that way in the long run.
In one discussion BritishWatcher proposed referring to NI as a country of the United Kingdom. Perhaps this would work as a compromise? Or how about something like the following:
"Northern Ireland [...] is situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. It is one of four constituent countries that make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Hans Adler 18:59, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
"...the UK Government is more authoritative than the BBC in this respect (or various text books discussing the Troubles)." First of all: no. The UK government is not a more authoritative source than books by published, reliable and well-respected authors on the subject. The UK government is merely one source. Second, the UK government more frequently uses "region" or "province" to refer to Northern Ireland, not "country". The Northern Ireland executive (from what we can see) never uses "country", always either "region" or "province". You are not only cherry picking your sources but ignoring when the sources you do cherry pick say something different to what you want to hear.
Correct me if I'm wrong but the argument in favour of keeping "country" is as follows:
  • Ignore that the UK government refers to Northern Ireland as a "region" or as a "province"
  • Ignore the Northern Ireland Executive (apparently) never calls Northern Ireland a "country"
  • Ignore when reliable published sources from across the range of perspective (nationalist, unionist and neither) explicitly say that Northern Ireland is "not a country"
  • Ignore the advice of reliable published sources on the issues around the what to call Northern Ireland...
  • ...that goes doubly when they explicitly advise against calling Northern Ireland a "country"!
  • Repeat to yourself - and others - "Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom"...
  • ...do not stop repeating this to give thought anything else
  • Ignore all of the objections to use of the word "country" to describe Northern Ireland (both on articles histories and talk pages)
  • Convince yourself that this, this and (god help us!) this are examples of "consensus"
  • Jealously guard against all attempts to change your preferred wording, no matter how well-referenced or balanced, on the basis that your preferred wording is "consensus"
  • Demand that there must be "consensus" before any change (except your own, of course!) and dig your heels in to ensure that there never will be any consensus
Is that correct? --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 19:26, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
No, that is not correct. See Straw man argument. DJ Clayworth (talk) 21:45, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, that is correct. See Rhetorical question. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 23:49, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

I must go along with 'country', as I promised 2 editors (at my userpage) that I wouldn't oppose the usage on any of the 4 UK country articles. GoodDay (talk) 19:29, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

????? That's a very strange statement. Please tell me that the highly irregular bullying to which you were subjected on your talk page was just an elaborate joke. Hans Adler 19:59, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
I've never bothered to find out (to be honest). GoodDay (talk) 20:05, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
That discussion is quite shocking. I'm not sure what to do about it. It's awful. It is bullying. GoodDay, was it meant seriously? --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 20:10, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
I've no probs with Jack & Dai, haven't felt intimitated atall. I just don't wanna have'em seeing me as dishonest (which they might if I oppose 'country'). GoodDay (talk) 20:18, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Hmmm ... I'm not sure what to make of that. This kind of "deal making" between editors is not in the interest of the encyclopedia. It's hardly the sort of thing you're likely to see in the Five Pillars.
I'm sorry but in it makes that your participation here little more than that of a meat puppet. If your support for the current wording is only because you are afraid of losing your "friends" ... then I'd suggest finding some new friends. This is no place for cabals. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 20:29, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Meat puppetry? Let's change the discriptive to province. PS: Oh what I just did. GoodDay (talk) 20:36, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
So you answer here is to bully GoodDay into changing his mind by telling him that the people who persuaded him before were just bullies. Oh this discussion has just taken a turn for the worse, when I didn't think it could. DJ Clayworth (talk) 21:50, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Han's suggestion would be sufficient by me - but I would add a foot note of the kind in the proposed copy above to the use of and would link all of "constituent countries" (not least because that would be in line with the MOS). --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 19:30, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

Again i strongly oppose any alteration to this articles lead sentence unless we are changing the other 3 country articles as well. If Northern Ireland can not be described as a country, then Scotland, England and Wales can not be as well. The sources which justify using Country for those articles use it for Northern Ireland as well. If those sources are unacceptable, then they must be unacceptable for the others aswell. Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, England is part of the United Kingdom and Wales is part of the United Kingdom.

I accept use of country because all 4 are called countries, i agree there are more alternative names for Northern Ireland, but if it cant be called a country none of them can. Again i strongly oppose changing this articles lead which has major implications for the other Countries of the United Kingdom. BritishWatcher (talk) 22:00, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

The issue with respect to Northern Ireland is that there are sources specific to Northern Ireland that explicitly state that it is not a "country", that discuss the particular issue of what to call Northern Ireland ("province", "region", "part", "country", etc.) and explicitly advise against calling it a "country" (going to so far as to call it "blatantly absurd" in one example). The question of "country" in relation to Northern Ireland is far more problematic than in relation to Scotland, Wales and England, which are far more commonly called countries and have a long history of being referred to using such terminology. That history does not exist in Northern Ireland.
Ignoring those differences - or papering over them for the sake of "stability" - does not do the encyclopedia, UK articles or this article any good. Insisting on "consistency" where it does not exist is artificial. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 22:20, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
A source that says calling NI a country is "blatantly absurd" probably says more about the source than about the status of NI. DJ Clayworth (talk) 22:32, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
This discussion is concerned with a neutral phrase to properly describe Northern Ireland. This does not affect the proper terminology to describe other places, the UK does not have symmetrical structures and Wikipedia should not give the impression that it does. And some people do consider NI being a country as being "blatantly absurd", as it lacks the historical basis that makes the likes of Scotland a country. Because you prefer a different POV does not mean that your view rather then theirs should be given prominence in the lead paragraph for the article. --Ardmacha (talk) 22:40, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
The people who think country is "blatantly absurd" probably have a non-neutral position as well. Which is it should be based on sources - not POV. Leaky Caldron 22:46, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
They come from a range of perspective - nationalist, unionist and international, and occupy the middle ground of their respective perspectives. In terms of Northern Ireland politics, regarding Northern Ireland is a "country" is a fringe view. See below. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 22:58, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
The source that described "country" as "blatantly absurd" was Dervla Murphy, a renowned a travel writer. The range of political views who also say that Northern Ireland is clearly not a country range from Michael McGimpsey, a unionist politician and member of the Northern Ireland assembly, to William V. Shannon, former editor of the NY Times and a US diplomat to Ireland. In terms of Northern Ireland politics, describing Northern Ireland as a "country" is a fringe view.
Remember, the UK government more commonly uses "region" or "province" to refer specifically to Northern Ireland with good reason. The Northern Ireland Executive never (as far as we can see) use the term. The fringe view is not to say that Northern Ireland is not a country; the fringe view is to insist on calling Northern Ireland a country.
Bear in mind too that the contributors to this discussion (both unionist and nationalist) that actually come from Northern Ireland both said "country" was an inappropriate term. The contributors that insist on using the term seem to have a greater concern for what consequence fixing the issue here would have for other articles. I don't think it has any consequence because the issues involved are unique to when discussing Northern Ireland in specific terms (and not in the context of the UK generally). --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 22:56, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Now that is a good one, I seem to remember you arguing very strongly against the "Irish Editor" position on the REpublic of Ireland dispute. Consistency not convenience please RA. --Snowded TALK 10:19, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Huh? I am an Irish editor. Please don't boil everything down to brute tribalism. Return the focus to our readers - and not on settling imagined scores with other editors.
Adhering to the advice of reliable sources - and not dividing everything up between what is imagined to be "British" and what is imagined to be "Irish" - is the only appropriate way to do that. In this case, all sources - UK, Irish, international, nationalist, unionist and neither - when speaking specifically about Northern Ireland more frequently refer to it as a "region" or as a "province". (I would prefer to leave all such descriptors out and simply leave a footnote explaining the situation.) Those that directly address the issue we are facing specifically advise against using "country".
The case is different when talking about the UK as a whole. I think "countries of the United Kingdom" is an appropriate catch-all term - and it is well sourced. The case is certainly different when talking about Scotland, England or Wales, which are commonly called "counties" and have been called such since time immemorial.
That is not the case with Northern Ireland. Pretending that it is is not in the interest of this article. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 11:38, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
I can not say that i am happy that Her Majesty's Government views England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as four countries. They are all just part of one country as far as im concerned, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but i accept others view them as countries and there are many reliable sources, including the British Government which describes them all as such there for i accept that term being used, but it must be used in all 4 cases. Use of country comes up on Wales, England and the Scotland article talk pages from time to time, so dont thinks the controversy only applies to Northern Ireland. The status quo must remain, which has been reasonably stable in the past year. BritishWatcher (talk) 22:51, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Can you explain why "it must be used in all 4 cases" and why "the status quo must remain"? Are you advocating that we write for the benefit of editors rather than the benefit of readers? --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 23:01, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Consistency is one way to reduce confusion for readers and it has had the side benefit of a year of stability. Otherwise this argument is going round in circles. Multiple terms are used, most if not all are controversial, so we go with the UK Government regardless of our personal views as to what should have been and what is. It would be a lot better to agree a qualifying sentence for NI as previously proposed to get around some of the controversies. --Snowded TALK 10:18, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
If some terms for NI are controversial then NPOV requires us to use the least controversial, not the one that is most consistent with GB. Let's not pretend that all terminology is equally controversial, it is not. We are not faced with a choice between equally contentious terms, we have neutral ones like "part of" as used in the Good Friday agreement and others like "country" that are almost never used within NI itself, but only when NI is referred to with the other components in the UK , which can reasonably be described as countries. Explanation will really reduce confusion among readers, not artificial consistency which the underlying situations differ. --Ardmacha (talk) 11:45, 3 November 2009 (UTC)


(*bangs head against wall*) Is it possible for you to be more disnigious, Snowded?
  • "Consistency is one way to reduce confusion for readers..." Call me old fashioned but is the best way to reduce confusion for our readers not to avoid fabricating "consistency" where none exists? God help them, what are they going to think when the see Northern Ireland described as a country followed by 10 or 20 references from all possible perspectives flatly saying the contrary. What are they going to think when they read quotations advising on how to address the topic of what to call Northern Ireland that directly advise not to call it a country? Would a footnote simply explaining the situation as I have suggested not be clearer?
  • "...most if not all are controversial, so we go with the UK Government regardless..." First, the UK government more commonly uses other terms to refer specifically to Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland government (from what we can tell) never uses term to refer to Northern Ireland. Number two, of all possible terms,0 "country" is probably the most controversial and ill-supported. Hence the plethora of reliable sources from across the political and national divides that flatly contradict the claim.
Your head is burried so far in the sand, Snowded, it's difficult to see your ankles anymore. Just look at the references. Support for the claim is tenious, oblique and relies on a narrow reading of a few sources (even ignoring different parts of the same sources on occasion!). Evidience to against the claim is direct, netural, deals with the issues at greater depth and draws from the whole range of possible commentators: UK government, Northern Ireland government, unionists, nationalist, neither and everything in between. You've left NPOV a long time ago in a crusade to push your view on other articles. This article should not have to suffer in order to facilitate your cursades elsewhere. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 12:19, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
And the version has not been "stable" over the past year. It has been challenged repeatedly, as you know (you were invovled in the edit warring over it and the disputes on this talk page). On each occasion it was said that the version represented "consensus". We now know that to be untrue. There never was any agreement to use the current wording. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 12:26, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
You really need to cool it RA. It has been stable, there have been a couple of short lived challenges. The initial change was made and accepted following discussions elsewhere and it has been stable ever since. It followed agreement in Scotland, which followed agreement on Wales and England, all of this was documented in Countries of the United Kingdom. The level of invective above is beyond reasonable behaviour, with a series of accusations and insults. It is allowed for people to disagree with you you know. Learn to live with it. Another attack like that above and I'll consider it a clear failure to follow WP:AGF. --Snowded TALK 19:03, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Faith is not in question - see my extended post below. But it is tiring to hear the same drum being beaten again and again. I would help greatly were you (and others) to respond to the numerous sources that I have povided. The closest the "country" camp have come so far to doing this is to insinuate that they were biased. I responded by giving one-sentence biography of a few.
I asked you several times before where this was agreed to. Are you now saying that the "consensus" took place on Talk:Countries of the United_Kingdom? (p.s. "invective" - nice word) --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 20:10, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps you two can stop this now and start with the constructive search for a compromise? Hans Adler 20:22, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Adler, if someone accuses me of edit warring, having my head in the sand, pursuing a NPOV crusade on other articles etc., all without evidence then I am more than entitled to ask them politely to stop. --Snowded TALK 23:03, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

How about avoiding these terms altogether and merely saying that Northern Ireland is within the United Kingdom? You could then have a paragraph part way through the article highlighting the controversy of whether it is a country, a region or merely a part of the UK. This can then show, in brief, the arguments for both sides and the reader can make their mind up themselves. If their is NO OFFICIAL DEFINITION we cannot make one up surely....Willski72 (talk) 19:50, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

Absolutely. I don't see the need to use any term. See the suggestion in the introduction to the RFC, it comes with a references footnote explaining the different terms and the issues involved. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 20:10, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
"As an aside..." (Arbitary section break)
As an aside, I'd like to think there's a difference between Wikipedia and documents released into such a sometimes hostile arena as Northern Ireland itself. Is there a need to hold Wikipedia to the same NPOV standard as the GFA agreement for example?
Is the disagreement on the terminology a concern over factual accuracy or neutral terminology? Does the issue merit mention in the article itself (as per the section on geographic nomenclature)? Alastairward (talk) 13:17, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Wikipedia should be cognisant of neutral language in the GFA and other NI government output, we should not be repeating the debate that has provided the present political consensus on how to govern NI. The issue is primarily one of neutral terminology in the lead paragraph, which takes on a life on its own in describing NI. Something neutral in the lead and further discussion of the issue in article in the the section on geographic nomenclature or elsewhere would seem to be the way forward and a good principle for many matters on the NI page. --Ardmacha (talk) 13:40, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
(ec) Now that's the kind of intelligent arguments that I was waiting for all the time. I guess the answer to your last question is "yes". It's already discussed in the lead of Terminology of the British Isles. I am not entirely sure about the others and would love to know the answers. Hans Adler 13:45, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
I'd like to second that. Thanks Alastair for raising a reasoned an leveled points. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 13:52, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
The issue cetainly touches on the general terminolgy issues in Northern Ireland - identitfy, names of places, etc. - "what to call Northern Ireland" is a part of that. It may deserve treatment in the article but, in my experience, ultimately these kind of additions are for the satifaction of editors rather than for the benefit of readers (see the "name of the Irish state" section in Republic of Ireland for example).
The issue for me is both one of accuracy and NPOV. Both, I think are quite accidental. The choice of vocabalary here is it movivated by issues asiring out of how to address other articles to do with the UK rather than anything to do with this article or editor's political opinions about Northern Ireland. On those other articles it seems like a fairly reasonable solution, I think. It just turns into a train-wreack when squeezed in to fit Northern Ireland. It's a case of "one-size-nearly-fits-all" and its just a accidental that Northern Ireland is the odd man out in this respect. It doesn't represent any ediors intentional attempt to mislead, misinform or twist words to suit their personal view on Northern Ireland.
"Is there a need to hold Wikipedia to the same NPOV standard as the GFA agreement for example?" None of the arguments so far have been base on the GFA (one editor referred to it but I cannot understand what he/she meant by it). we do need NPOV and we do need accuracy (but we don't need pedantism).
You (unintentially I think) raise a point though. The kind of language used in documents like the GFA are negeotiated and horse-traded over in tense negeotiations before finally being put into a static politcal document that is set in stone. This is a wiki. Nothing is set in stone. Tense negeotiations about wording are in an inherantly bad idea. Someone will come along and change a comma to a dash and the whole thing falls down on top of itself. Wordings agreed in such a manner have to be jealously guarded otherwise the whole negeotiations are opened again like a gaping sore.
That is what has happened in this case. Tense negeotiations and horse-trading on other articles has led to the current wording being enforced here as a (supposed) "agreed" version. Despite all the references to the contrary it cannot be ammended because it arose from some politcal negeotiation elsewhere. That's not the way to write Wikipedia. In the case of this article, it has reduce the accuracy of the article, put it in contradiction of reliable sources on the subject and (quite accidentally) left it open to being seen as falling far below NPOV. These sorts of agreements are a bad idea.
I support the term country to describe Northern Ireland as it has its own government at Stormont and First Minister. When Dervla Murphy said it was absurd to call it a country, remember she said that in 1976, four years after the abolishment of Stormont. Prior to 1972, it had its own Prime Minister, hence it qualifies as a country.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 13:56, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
I do not agree that this being a Wiki means that NI would be a country from time to time and not at other times. I also do not agree that whether NI is a country or not is dependent on anything as ephemeral as the devolved government being in place. The idea that it was a country in 1972 but not in 1973, or in 2000 but not 2003 does not make sense. The lead sentence should have a lasting quality, based on the long standing identity of a place, not varying at the whim of press releases. I (among others) stated that the GFA did not use the word "country" anywhere and wondered why that should not be guide for Wikipedia as it represents a fundamental document for the modern NI. The horse-trading between the representatives of the people of Ireland and Britain should be given more importance than the horse-trading on the UK Wikipedia page. --Ardmacha (talk) 15:13, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

Even my country lacks consistancy within itself. Instead of 13 provinces, there's 10 provinces & 3 territories. GoodDay (talk) 15:42, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

Jeanne, the references for "not a country" are purposely divided 50:50 pre/post the restoration of the Stormont assembly. Duncan Morrow, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council and lecturer in politics at the University of Ulster, put it thus:
  • "Moreover, Northern Ireland is a province, not a country. Even before direct rule, many of the decisions affecting the economy, labour law, and wage bargaining were in reality taken in London, thereby diminishing the importance of local control."
(The newly devolved Assembly has even fewer powers than before.)
Michael McGimpsey, an Ulster Unionist member of the restored Stormont Assembly, puts it like this:
  • "... Northern Ireland is not a country, Northern Ireland is a province of Ireland and it is a province in the UK and I think that the notion of a national identity or group identity or racial identity or cultural identity here is a nonsense."
The question of whether the restoration of an assembly makes Northern Ireland a "country" or not is then put to bed by Northern Ireland political scientists and (Unionist) assembly members: they say it is not a "country". If you disagree please provide a source supporting the assertion that it does. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 17:41, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
But it seems that everybody knows this. OTOH, in an organically grown state such as the UK we can have absurdities such as 4 countries one of which is rarely called a country in isolation. After reading the Britannica 1911 article about the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, I think I understand what happened. The (previous) UK was a union of two kingdoms, one of which was itself a union. Britannica 1911 calls it a "political unity composed of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland." I guess it was normal to say it consisted of 4 countries. When most of Ireland left the UK, this language was still used . After all, "country" was still correct without any new doubt for England, Scotland and Wales, and Northern Ireland was that part of a country which was in the UK. Qualitatively it's like saying that a country is in the UN or the EU even though there is a formal exception for part of its territory. Of course quantitatively it's a bit absurd. However, when thinking specifically about Northern Ireland, people realise that they are not sure whether it's actually a country or not. There are so many reasonable configurations (ROI and NI as two parts of a single country; ROI and NI as two separate countries; NI as a country that is both part of ROI and UK; NI as a non-country that is both part of ROI and UK; NI as a non-country that is only a part of the UK), none of them is obvious, and all of them mean different things to different people. It's like arguing whether a sofa is a chair, or whether the Dead Sea is a lake, except that it also has political and historical dimensions that make everything more complicated and more contentious. Hans Adler 16:07, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
What's the NOI? GoodDay (talk) 16:15, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
An artefact of my stupidity. Thanks, fixed. Hans Adler 16:18, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
The island of Ireland is not a country, though. GoodDay (talk) 16:31, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Some people believe that the ROI must be called "Ireland" (without RO) and that it includes NI as a part that it is not currently under its political control. That comes pretty close to the island being a country. Hans Adler 16:38, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
It's true, there are wishful dreamers out there. GoodDay (talk) 16:42, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
There are sources-a-plenty that describe Ireland as being a "country" (e.g. Lonely Plant) but to do so on this encyclopedia, without qualification, would be as proposterous as if the article describing Northern Ireland said it as being a "country" too, equally unqualified ... oh? ... what that you say? ... it does!? --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 17:56, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Country is cetainly preferable to 'province as the ancient province of Ulster had nine counties not six.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 18:05, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
So NI is not a whole province so that makes it a country? That's conclusive. --Ardmacha (talk) 18:28, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

Folks, I'm withdrawing from this Rfc. I can't make up my mind (as to the correct descriptive). Good Luck, ya'll. GoodDay (talk) 18:14, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

Ardmacha, what is the alternative then? You will recall that prior to 1972, it had its own Prime Minister. Anyroad, the article, as it now stands, calls it a country and I support the usage.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 18:52, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
We don't need an alternative. We don't need to decide whether NI is a country, a province, a region or a city, just like we don't need to decide whether a sofa is a chair, a bed, a carpet or a table. Hans Adler 19:02, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
"We don't need an alternative". Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. --Ardmacha (talk) 19:09, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Indeed we shouldn't decide what to call Northern Ireland. We should simply lay bare facts (all of them) before the reader and allow the reader to decide. Us deciding what the correct term for anything here is a 'no, no'. We don't decide nothing. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 20:49, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Compromises

⬅Its very clear that the three of you are agreed on that. Others however are not. So how about looking at the earlier proposed compromise? --Snowded TALK 19:17, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

Thanks. If you now agree to talk about possible compromises it seems we have finally reached the point where we should have started: An agreement that there is reasonable disagreement and that we must deal with the situation constructively. I would say that part of any compromise should be that we discuss the problem of what NI is somewhere in the article. I don't care whether it's in the body or in a footnote. Perhaps we can agree on that text first (probably easier because it can be longer), and then decide what to put into the first sentence. Hans Adler 19:23, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
I think that the section on geographic nomenclature should have a paragraph on this issue with the basic country/province/region issue set out with some key footnotes. The matter should then be expanded in more depth in [Alternative names for Northern_Ireland]. --Ardmacha (talk) 19:47, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
I can't remember saying no to any suggestion above. What was the compromise? (I'm not on for hiding anything in footnotes while presenting something else in the article body.)
Some fair compromises (I think) that fall on the pro-"country" side may be:
Whatever we go with, I would like to attach a footnote like the one in the proposed change in the intro to the RFC to clarify the situation. The biggest issue for be is the unqualified use of the word "country" and use of the relative pronoun ("that" or "which") to separate the sense of "country" from it's meaning as being a constituent part of the UK.
Northern Ireland is very different from the other constituent parts of the UK in the sense that on those pages there were many people throwing their hands down on tables demanding that it be called a "country". The situation in on this article is the very opposite - no-one asked for it to be called a "country" that term came from outside of this talk page. If some editors really need to have "country" mentioned in the introduction that can be accommodated in many ways but the current form is seriously flawed. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 20:49, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Actually I remember that they had trouble with people insisting on "nation", which is outright silly because it's a category error since the articles aren't merely about the population but also about geography. Hans Adler 20:58, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Scotland, you mean - not here? (Whoa! Holy sh*t don't even go there!) I remember "nation" coming about on the Scotland article by way of an even earlier round of horse-trading between editors. It too was jealously guarded and to change it was people said would be certain to lead to the end of the world. Horse-trading is just a bad idea. It only prolong problems by bestowing an even knottier problem on future generations of editors. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 21:32, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
My suggestion for some time has to add a second sentence to the lede which makes some of the NI issues clear, per the compromise agreement reached between myself and RA on Constituent Country. --Snowded TALK 22:31, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Actually the difference is not that there are more people here demanding that NI be called a country; it's that there are more people objecting. With Scotland it was pretty much a done deal that it was a country, and Wales only slightly less so.
I have no problems with "one of the four countries" or "constituent country". I also have no trouble with an explanation of the term and why it's used. I think a footnote would be better than an inline sentence (especially in the intro) but hey, we can compromise. DJ Clayworth (talk) 23:40, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Snowded, write it out, I don't know what you mean. How do you feel about the suggestions above? Like, Clayworth, though I would prefer something footnoted rather than in line (also particularly in the intro). "...is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom..." with the footnote from the suggestion in the intro to the RFC would be fine by me (the "countries with a country" and the National Statistics refs would perfectly reference this). I imagine it would be fine with others of my persuasion too, but with a foot note. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 23:54, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
"One of the four countries" is unambiguous. Leaky Caldron 00:17, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Just for the record i like "is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom.." a lot but i can only support a change to that if its applied to the other 3 UK country articles at the same time. BritishWatcher (talk) 01:25, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

The stable wording which has remained on all 4 introductions should remain. Scotland, Wales and England must not be treated differently to Northern Ireland in the introduction. THe sources that justify using country in those 3 cases are applied to Northern Ireland as well. Adding "constituent country" doesnt take away the problem people have about Northern Ireland being called a country, but if thats added to this lead i fail to see why Scotland, England and Wales should not have the same title. The status quo which has lasted quite a few months should remain. I do not oppose some sentence in the introduction explaining Northern Irelands unique position, but the lead sentence should remain the same. BritishWatcher (talk) 01:21, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

There should be no use of text within footnotes over this issue. Citations in the lede are for referencing bold claims, they are not for stuffing in user synthesised counter-arguments or for engaging in the 'cherry picking' that is earlier characterised as the issue. If there is to be no serious proposal here on what to add/change in the actual lede text to properly counter-balance the 'claim' that NI is a country, then that's that. Everything else that purportedly comes from references that dispute the claim that people want to stuff in footnotes, should already be in the main body of the article. Footnotes are not replacements for articles text, period. MickMacNee (talk) 03:21, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

I would have no objections to "one of the four countries" and the footnote can be handled by the pipelink (to overcome Mick's objection). However I agree with BW that we should make the name change on England, Scotland and Wales. I'm happy to propose that on those pages, or just link those pages here for discussion. Otherwise I am happy to write out the alternative suggestion for NI this evening (have a long day ahead 0521 train and later return) --Snowded TALK 04:38, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
This is all getting beyond ridiculous. Under a technical pretext, MickMacNee has moved the article even further away from a compromise. [17] "Country" in the context of the 4 "countries" making up the UK doesn't really mean anything. Over the centuries there has been a slow transition towards making four countries into one. This process has not finished yet. Apparently a majority doesn't really like the union much, and so there has been no incentive to update the terminology yet. Consequently the four parts are still being called countries, and indeed there is a certain degree of justification for that. But not the same degree for all of them, because of the radical changes that happened in one of them. "Country" can mean all sorts of things, and the real question is not whether England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland is a country but whether it is called a country. It's about language use. Language use depends on context. In the context "England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make up the UK" there is no doubt that Northern Ireland is routinely called a country. In a purely Northern Ireland context there is no doubt that Northern Ireland is routinely not called a country. Here we are in a Northern Ireland context. The compromise proposal was to move the first sentence explicitly into a "England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make up the UK" context so that Northern Ireland can be called a country without breaking NPOV.
Could those who reject this compromise please make a concrete proposal how to address this NPOV problem so that we need not discard your opinion as that of extremist hardliners. Thank you. Hans Adler 08:19, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
I think your history is a bit out there. Wales and England were integrated in the 13th and 15th C, Scotland and Ireland by Acts of Union. For the last 150 years the trend (although slow) is to make them more distinct with assemblies now in place in all bar England. Your statement that there is a slow transition towards making four countries into one. This process has not finished yet is false. In fact, if you really think that it may explain why you have been taking the position you have.. Personally I see no difference between the current wording and the proposed compromise (although it needs to be tested on the other pages). I also strongly suggest you avoid terms like "extremist hardliners" there is zero evidence in the discussion above to support that and it does not follow WP:AGF. --Snowded TALK 08:36, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
I am thinking long term. I am perfectly aware that regionalism is very popular at the moment, but it's hard to tell whether it's just a momentary phenomenon or whether it's going to stop before the point where travellers from London to Glasgow must take care to remember exchanging money and bringing their passports, while the rest of Europe is a homogeneous Euro and Schengen zone. Hans Adler 09:31, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
This isn't the place for a political discussion. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 10:10, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
I doubt if any discussion can take place about Northern Ireland without politics RP. Its also important if an editor is making decisions to check facts and understanding. Adler FYI the growth of nationalism is ironically also pro-European, given that the EU makes smaller nations viable. So you should not confuse issues are "country" within the UK with issues of passports and monetary exchange. The basic fact remains that the making of the different countries into one, happened some time ago, there is no transition in that direction as it has already happened. --Snowded TALK 11:42, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
"Citations in the lede are for referencing bold claims, they are not for stuffing in user synthesised counter-arguments or for engaging in the 'cherry picking' that is earlier characterised as the issue." I agree, the article should be able to stand on it's own two feet without footnotes. The problem is the bald statement "Northern Ireland is a country". The "cherry picking" is of referencs among those who pick relatively isolated references to Northern Ireland being a "one of the four countries of the United Kingdom" while completely ignoring the whole raft of references that either (directly) call Northern Ireland something else - often even the same sources - and/or explicitly advise not to call Northern Ireland a "country" when speaking about it directly (particularly those that deal with the exact issue that we are facing here: what to call Northern Ireland).
What is the *need* to call Northern Ireland anything - apart from saying that if we change it here it upset consensus on other articles? Northern Ireland is not a whipping boy for the troubles of other articles. The varacity of this article cannot be reduce to satisfy conflicting POVs on another topic.

--rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 08:54, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

...but since that is not going to happen, I would make do with a lede that is at least factually accurate (or unabigious, if you prefer) and for the footnote to explain the choice of words (which is what a footnote should do). If it is considered better, the note can be linked to an explicit "Notes" section rather to the "References" section. My suggestion for the note is follows:

Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann, Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) one of the four countries the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland...


Notes

In common with the other constituent parts of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland is sometimes referred to as a "country" (example). The UK government also refers specifically to Northern Ireland as being a "province" (UK: example; NI: example) or a "region" (UK: example; NI: example). Regardless of the choice of term, it is likely to be unsatisfactory and can imply a preferred political perspective:

  • "One problem must be adverted to in writing about Northern Ireland. This is the question of what name to give to the various geographical entities. These names can be controversial, with the choice often revealing one's political preferences. ... some refer to Northern Ireland as a 'province'. That usage can arouse irritation particularly among nationalists, who claim the title 'province' should be properly reserved to the four historic provinces of Ireland-Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connacht. If I want to a label to apply to Northern Ireland I shall call it a 'region'. Unionists should find that title as acceptable as 'province': Northern Ireland appears as a region in the regional statistics of the United Kingdom published by the British government." - J. Whyte and G. FitzGerald, 1991, Interpreting Northern Ireland, Oxford University Press: Oxford
  • "One specific problem - in both general and particular senses - is to know what to call Northern Ireland itself: in the general sense, it is not a country, or a province, or a state - although some refer to it contemptuously as a statelet: the least controversial word appears to be jurisdiction, but this might change." - S. Dunn and H. Dawson, 2000, An Alphabetical Listing of Word, Name and Place in Northern Ireland and the Living Language of Conflict, Edwin Mellen Press: Lampeter
  • "Next - what noun is appropriate to Northern Ireland? 'Province' won't do since one-third of the province is on the wrong side of the border. 'State' implies more self-determination than Northern Ireland has ever had and 'country' or 'nation' are blatantly absurd. 'Colony' has overtones that would be resented by both communities and 'statelet' sounds too patronizing, though outsiders might consider it more precise than anything else; so one is left with the unsatisfactory word 'region'." - D. Murphy, 1979, A Place Apart, Penguin Books: London
--rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 09:05, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

There is any amount of evidence that NI is not the same as the other components of the UK, and is not referred to as a country when discussed alone. This an article on NI and it must reflect that and preferably sooner rather than later.

  • contentious terminology such as country must not appear in the lead, as such lead sentences get quoted in the absence of footnotes etc. The need to use NPOV language here also exludes sneaking in country by using a different way of saying the same thing like one of the countries of the UK or similar. It is useful to indicate that NI is one of 4 major components of the UK, without implying that they are all countries to an equal extent. e.g. NI is one of four constituent parts of the UK. As several editors have pointed out, there is no need whatsoever to make a contentious statement in the lead sentence as to what NI is.
  • there should be full discussion of the issues in the body of the text, not only in a footnote.
  • - other UK pages do not have to have the same wording, they are not all the same type of place. But it is reasonable to have pages that point out that the term countries of the UK is used because 3 of the 4 entities are widely regarded as countries, while noting that NI in general isn't regarded as country except in this context. --Ardmacha (talk) 10:14, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Ardmacha what exactly is a part? Part is not a country, state, province or region? The article has got to be more specific when describing Northern Ireland's status. I agree that country needs to be qualified, however, part is not sufficient.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 10:25, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Agree(-ish). Which is the essence of the problem - "part" could mean anything, but everything specific is unsatisfactory for one reason or another. "Region" or "province" are usual when talking directly about Northern Ireland (e.g. UK government, NI government, independent sources, etc.). "Country" is fine when talking in general terms about the four constiuent parts of the UK. ("Constituent country" is fairly broadly understood too and again puts it in terms of being a constituent part of the UK.)
The issue for me really is just that bald statment that "Northern Ireland is a country". That's simply incorrect - it is not a country in the same sense as England, Scotland or Wales. There are too many sources - of all political persuasions and none - that no only outright refute it but explain in level terms why it is incorrect. There are too many other words that are more frequently used when addressing Northern Ireland directly. ... but in terms of "the UK is made of of four conutries" then it's fine, there's no need to harp on it. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 10:58, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
FWIT Britannica define it as a "constituent unit" of the United Kingdom and describe it as a, "Part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland occupying the northeastern portion of the island of Ireland." I'm always one to say that we can do better than Britannica but it doesn't hurt to look. (Scotland is called a "country", England a "part", and Wales a "pricipality" BTW.) --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 11:23, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
"There is any amount of evidence that NI is not the same as the other components of the UK, and is not referred to as a country when discussed alone."
Here is an example of the British government using "country" when just talking about Northern Ireland. [18]
Whilst i have no problem with a second sentence on this article going into more detail and explaining Northern Irelands situation, i can only support change if its applied across all UK country articles. There is nothing incorrect or POV to say Northern Ireland is a country. Reliable sources show this to be the case. BritishWatcher (talk) 10:43, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
And here's many more of the same website using "province" (just as an example). You are placing too much weight on isolated examples.
Reliable source (of all political persuations and none) do say it is incorrect. See the many examples of these reliables sources above in the introduction to this RFC. These sources discuss the very issue we are debating here: what to call Northern Ireland. We don't need to dig into press releases to infer one thing or another. There is a body of verifiable sources out there that address this issue head on. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 11:06, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

RA, it is you that is putting undue weight on sources. Your footnote is the very cherry picking of sources you objected to way back when. And this statement: "Regardless of the choice of term, it is likely to be unsatisfactory and can imply a preferred political perspective" is pure synthesis. Why are those three authors the definitive source of opinion on what NI is? (or why do their opinions from 20, 30 and even 40 years ago, cancel out the current UK govt's opinion?) If these are truly important historical opinions, they belong in main text, and you should be arguing for a change in the main lede wording to reflect them, per wp:lede. If you cannot muster enough support for clarification in the main lede text, then there is no point in trying to put it in a Footnote. Footnotes are for supporting references, and to a lesser extent minor clarifications or expansions that don't need to be in the main text and if never read would not alter the meaning of the article, such as '2008 figures' etc. I am sure nobody here would agree that your assertions over the innappropriateness of the word country inspite of the supporting references constitutes a minor clarification. MickMacNee (talk) 11:10, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

  • "Why are those three authors the definitive source of opinion on what NI is?" They are not. They are just three examples of reliable sources that have discussed the issue. (Three more than anyone else has provided.) There are other examples of sources that discuss the issue in the list of references I give at the start of the RFC. If you have other sources that discuss the issue (that is discuss what to call Northern Ireland, not just go with one thing or another) please add them.
  • "...you should be arguing for a change in the main lede wording to reflect them, per wp:lede." Eh ... I am.
  • "Footnotes are for supporting references, and to a lesser extent minor clarifications or expansions that don't need to be in the main text..." Eh, no. From WP:NOTES: Wikipedia footnotes serve two purposes. First, to add explanatory material, particularly if the added information would be distracting if written out in the main article. Second, they are used to present citations to reliable sources that support assertions in the main article.
Not everything needs to be turned into a big deal. A neurtral-ish choice of wording can be explained with a footnote witout any more palava. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 11:33, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Umm, to some extent the proposed footnote is very like the first amendment on Constituent Country which was then worked back to a more sensible paragraph. Its far from clear that there is agreement (I thought there might be earlier) and the issue of getting agreement across four articles remains problematic. I increasingly think that we need a section on the name in the main body and one additional sentence in the lede to make the differences clear. I will have a go at drafting that tonight when I have time to think it through properly, and make it as a proposal. --Snowded TALK 11:57, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
I would argue strongly that we not set a principle that harmonisation of UK pages overrides in any way the need to accurately describe the distinctive characteristics of NI. Similarly any compromises arrived at on the NI page which reflect its local distinct character should not be used as an argument for England, Scotland or Wales to amend their pages, if the same circumstances do not arise there. NI has some differences from GB, this has to be a basic principle of the NI Wikipedia page, each issue must proceed on its merits for the NI page. The issue of getting agreement across four articles may remain problematic, but it such agreement is not required and a false harmonisation would not reflect the reality on the ground. part of is accurate and if people want to know more about the subtleties of the issue than they should read the body of the NI page or the UK pages. --Ardmacha (talk) 13:26, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Ardmacha, I agree that there is no need to "harmonise" the article pages as I'm not even sure what harmonise would mean in this case. There are differences not just between NI and GB, but between NI and England, Scotland and Wales in terms of law and politics.
The only thing that bugs me is having "part of" in the lead. It just sounds a little watered down. Factual certainly, NPOV to all but the most extreme points of view, so I guess it ticks the important boxes. How would region sound? It adds a little bit of pomp. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Alastairward (talkcontribs)
Some of us have lived through this particular issue too many times. I am not going to repeat arguments, but there are several of us who think consistency is an important goal here. In fact there is a different history to the country status of NI in comparison with Scotland and Wales (which are also different to a degree) may need to be covered, but it does not invalidate the current lede. I think there is a way forward here which handles consistency and makes the particular history of NI visible to the reader. Working on that. --Snowded TALK 15:13, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
part of may lack something for some people, constituent of or one of four constituent parts may achieve the desired effect, while providing a link to the other 3 components, which are indeed countries. --Ardmacha (talk) 17:20, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
As one who is watching the argument, but not taking part because everything has been said at least once before, "part of" is not acceptable. "one of the countries" or "constituent country" would be fine. DJ Clayworth (talk) 21:40, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps you should articulate exactly why neutral language such as part of is unacceptable and why restating country in a slightly different way is, when so much discussion has taken place which shows that country is a particular POV rarely used in NI itself. Consistency with other pages is not a sufficient justification nor does valid references show that your terminology is neutral. --Ardmacha (talk) 22:18, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Part 1: I think I can (partially) understand the issue with "part of" - a housing estate in Gainsborough is equally a "part of" the UK. It is unsatisfactory. It also lacks "heart". I don't want to read "sanitised" articles on Wikipedia - that's not how to achieve NPOV. ("Part of" is absolutely undeniable, though.) I'm not really so sure what to do about it because we here on Wikipedia cannot (in the sense that we should not) decide what Northern Ireland is or should be called (be that "province", "region", "country" or something else). That's what the current copy does. It makes a definite decision on the matter. It says that, "Northern Ireland is a country". Full stop. Replace that with "region" or "province" and you will still have the same problem. That doesn't mean that one is as good (or as bad) as any other (so we can just pick one and be damned with it), it means we can't jump headlong into any one of them and say (or imply) that it is definitive. There is an issue here, it should be explained. We need to express what that issue is to our reader while still informing them about the topic (i.e. we don't need to beat them over the head with it or get bogged down in it).
Part 2: With regard to the need for "consistency" across the UK articles, "consistency" is a sham because Northern Ireland is different. This is why John Morrill can say that, "…Northern Ireland is not a 'country', at least not in the sense that England, Scotland and Wales are 'countries'." (See ref above.) The other constituent parts have are far commonly called countries and are commonly considered nations in themselves. Far far less so Northern Ireland:
"... the UK is certainly a state; equally certainly, none of England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland is a state. Yet most people would consider that 'England', 'Scotland,' and 'Wales,' are the names of nations; and at least some would say the same of 'Northern Ireland,' though that is manifestly a more disputable point." (Ronald Beiner, 1999, Theorizing Nationalism, State University of New York Press: Albany)
Binding Wikipedia articles together is a bad idea. We cannot bind the copy of articles together just because it solves an edit war that was going on somewhere else. It doesn't make sense. (Not least because this is a wiki - people edit it.) The four articles in involved relate to four different topics. We cannot edit this article with due commitment to the topic and at the same time always have to consider, "Is this statement true also for England, Scotland and Wales also?" Our focus here is on Northern Ireland, where it should be, not on England, Scotland and Wales.
We all know the trouble that the "country" debate caused for the other articles. Maybe that debate was won by pointing to sources that say that the UK is made up of four countries. (Those arguments would have been better served IMHO by pointing to the plentiful sources that discuss the issues in involved and yet plainly say that England, Scotland and Wales are "countries" - similar to the one above.) This article was never a party to those debates - and with good reason. It's an issue for the England, Scotland and Wales articles. Nobody here wanted the word "country". We never asked for it, but now, for the benefit of England, Scotland and Wales, have it whether we want it or not. Really, we have headaches of our own, we could do without this one.
@DJ Clayworth - you say you've heard it all before. I'm surprised at that. How much of the focus was previously given the specific problems around Northern Ireland - or was the focus on resolving the matter with the assumption being that one size would fit all? Was it thought that if a reference was got that said "country" then that would be the end of it, did you consider the unique and well-documented issues pertaining specifically to what to call Northern Ireland - or that "country" was one of the most advised against terms specifically in relation to Northern Ireland? --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 00:16, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
It is not so easy to find other neutral terms than part of. The dictionary suggests segment, as this is a part separated along natural lines of division. But I don't see this gaining favour. However what NI clearly is a major component of the UK of GB and NI. Perhaps this could provide a way forward somehow. What do you call one half of a union? --Ardmacha (talk) 01:24, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
The UK comprises four countries, three of which have assemblies with varying degrees of power (and England is not one of those). The Sovereign state asks people which of those countries they come from on its census. What a wikipedia editor things the people of Northern Ireland wanted or not is not relevant, the fact that various text books discuss the controversy around the name is relevant for the article, but does not impact on the use of country to describe Northern Ireland. --Snowded TALK 05:31, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
The fact that the various textbooks say "not a country" and those that discuss the issues specifically advise not to call it that does impact on use. The fact tht the UK government more commonly uses other words when speaking specifically about Northern Ireland - and the NI government (from what we can see) never uses "country" - should also inform us.
This is not a case of what "the people of Northern Ireland wanted", it is a case of what the people of Scotland/Wales wanted for 'their' articles and the presumption that the Northern Ireland article has to live with it regardless of whether it is accurate for this topic or not.
Ultimately the reader has to suffer for the benefit of nationalist squabbles on other articles. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 08:48, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Proposal

There is no agreement above to changing the lede nor does it look likely that there will be. The current lede uses 'country' per UK Government soources but also makes it very clear that it is a part of the UK. It has also been proposed that we say "One of the four countries of the UK", I am not opposed to that, but feel that it should be tested on England, Scotland and Wales. Some editors argue for consistency, some say NI page stands alone. Thinking about it, "One of the four countries" actually implies a federal system which it is not. All four were once a part of a unitary state (alone with Ireland the state) and there has been a process of separation and devolution since. Northern Ireland is different from the other three in that it did not have independent existence in its history. There is a form of words agreed by RA and myself on Constituent Countries which is succinct and referenced.

In order to resolve the above issues I propose adding that phrase to the end of the first paragraph of the lede. It reads as follows:

While England, Scotland and Wales were historically distinct countries, Northern Ireland has no history as a distinct country and is also referred to as a province[1] or region,[2] even by the UK government. Use of "country" can be controversial[3] with the choice of words often revealing political preferences.[4]

Comments? --Snowded TALK 05:39, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

It sounds good, Snowded, but when you say it has no history as a distinct country, it should instead read: It has no history as a distinct country prior to 1921. I say this due to the fact that it had its own Prime Minister and also the name Northern Ireland does appear on the cover of UK passports. Normally regions and provinces are not granted such status, power or recognition by governments.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 06:20, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
I support Snowded's proposal, and am also happy to accept Jeanne's amendment. In response to Jeanne, note that NI is not mentioned on the UK passport cover in recognition of it being a region or province. It is simply the fact that the full name of the UK is the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". Mooretwin (talk) 08:36, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
That is my point, Mooretwin. The fact that it is part of the full name of the United Kingdom in conjunction with Great Britain reflects its legal status as being above that of a region or province, hence my support of the name country for Northern Ireland.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 08:47, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Jeanne boleyn, Northern Ireland has no history of being a country after 1921. Duncan Morrow, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council and lecturer in politics at the University of Ulster, put it thus:
  • "Moreover, Northern Ireland is a province, not a country. Even before direct rule, many of the decisions affecting the economy, labour law, and wage bargaining were in reality taken in London, thereby diminishing the importance of local control."
(See the many other similar references above.) Divining secret wisdom from the name of the British state is balderdash. Let's stick with verifiable facts rather than our own amateur musings (stricken per user talk comment from Jeanne boleyn regading tone).
With regard to the suggestion, I'm afraid does not address the issues, which are in two fold. First attributing too much weight to a narrow selection of sources in order to support the bald claim that Northern Ireland is a "country", despite that reading being flatly contradicted by verifable sources (from all political persuasions and none) that directly address the question we face. Second, the (carzy) idea that the lede to four seperate articles *must* be the same. The best thing that can be said about the proposal is that it openly admits that the first sentence fails WP:NPOV.
With regard to the phrase "one of the four countries" implying a federal state ... huh? That's almost word for word what the UK government sites you keep wheeling out say. It is the kind of statement that is used to support the current wording. Talk about being selective! If in context A a source supports your preference, it's correct? If in context B, it doesn't, then it's biased? That is the essence of origin of this problem. Stick with the sources - all of them - even those that don't support your desired outcome. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 09:07, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
I support the wording and think that solves the problem. The main thing is the first sentence of this article remains in line with the other 3 articles. I am unsure about the agreement you mention on Constituent Countries, just to be clear i strongly oppose use of that term here in the first sentence unless it is applied to every other country of the United Kingdom. BritishWatcher (talk) 09:10, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
How or why is that the "main thing"? --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 09:12, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Its vital for all 4 articles on the Countries of the United Kingdom to say the same thing in the first sentence. The sources that justify calling Scotland and England a country for me are the ones that also call Northern Ireland one. I do not accept England should be described as a country because it use to be one, i only accept its one because the UK government says all 4 are countries. If we can not use country despite those reliable sources, then it raises questions about the other articles. BritishWatcher (talk) 09:15, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
I think Snowded proposal addresses your concerns very well. We have to call Northern Ireland something, there are several terms but country is one of them. It makes sense to use the same as the other 3 countries of the United Kingdom and then go into detail about Northern Irelands classification. Wales for example is still not always called a country, i heard it called the principality when watching a debate in parliament yesterday. BritishWatcher (talk) 09:21, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
I might have missed it in these gigabytes of heat and not much light, but I would like to see rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) proposal for the lead displayed so that we can consider it alongside the existing and Snowded’s latest proposal. Leaky Caldron 09:31, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

@BW - That doesn't explain why it is "vital". It does a good good of explaining why it might be so. It doesn't address the verifiable sources that say that Northern Ireland is different from the other three in that respect (nor that treat it so, even by those sources being used to support the current copy).

@Leaky Caldron - I've agreed to all proposals so far as far as I can recall (except the one above). This was the last one that was mentioned (it was criticised for having explanatory text in a footnote).

Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann, Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) one of the four countries the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland...


Notes

In common with the other constituent parts of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland is sometimes referred to as a "country" (example). The UK government also refers specifically to Northern Ireland as being a "province" (UK: example; NI: example) or a "region" (UK: example; NI: example). Regardless of the choice of term, it is likely to be unsatisfactory and can imply a preferred political perspective:

  • "One problem must be adverted to in writing about Northern Ireland. This is the question of what name to give to the various geographical entities. These names can be controversial, with the choice often revealing one's political preferences. ... some refer to Northern Ireland as a 'province'. That usage can arouse irritation particularly among nationalists, who claim the title 'province' should be properly reserved to the four historic provinces of Ireland-Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connacht. If I want to a label to apply to Northern Ireland I shall call it a 'region'. Unionists should find that title as acceptable as 'province': Northern Ireland appears as a region in the regional statistics of the United Kingdom published by the British government." - J. Whyte and G. FitzGerald, 1991, Interpreting Northern Ireland, Oxford University Press: Oxford
  • "One specific problem - in both general and particular senses - is to know what to call Northern Ireland itself: in the general sense, it is not a country, or a province, or a state - although some refer to it contemptuously as a statelet: the least controversial word appears to be jurisdiction, but this might change." - S. Dunn and H. Dawson, 2000, An Alphabetical Listing of Word, Name and Place in Northern Ireland and the Living Language of Conflict, Edwin Mellen Press: Lampeter
  • "Next - what noun is appropriate to Northern Ireland? 'Province' won't do since one-third of the province is on the wrong side of the border. 'State' implies more self-determination than Northern Ireland has ever had and 'country' or 'nation' are blatantly absurd. 'Colony' has overtones that would be resented by both communities and 'statelet' sounds too patronizing, though outsiders might consider it more precise than anything else; so one is left with the unsatisfactory word 'region'." - D. Murphy, 1979, A Place Apart, Penguin Books: London

--rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 09:51, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

I do like "One of the four countries..." a lot but i can only support that if all 3 other country articles were changed and i would expect heavy opposition on one article but we could try if really needed. I think Snowded proposal is more informative by having that paragraph in the intro explaining things rather than notes most wont read. Saying one of the four countries, compared to is a country doesnt make a huge difference in a technical sense. Its still calling Northern Ireland a country. BritishWatcher (talk) 09:59, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Of course you could expect opposition. The very idea that the Scotland articles (as an example) would have to be changed to reflect what's true for Northern Ireland is as proposterous as the idea that the the Northern Ireland article would have to be written to reflect what's true for Scotland.
It's truly bizzare! No-one on this article asked for the word "country" (or more particularly the current copy) yet here we are lumped with it owing to fights over on another article - whether it fits here or not! --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 10:12, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
And no one here put up a fuss until recently despite it saying country for some time. BritishWatcher (talk) 10:18, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
See the page history and archive. There was fuss from the get-go. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 10:36, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

I support RA's proposal. Consistency is valuable but it is not all-important, and given the asymmetrical process in which the administration of these islands has developed it is perfectly logical for the opening sentence of this article to be slightly different to that for England, Scotland and Wales. There are far more, and more important and more neutral, sources that describe NI as something that is not simply and purely a "country" than those that state that it is, and a more subtly nuanced form of words should be used here than for those other three countries. The introduction itself should not be weighed down by a detailed technical explanation which is best located in a footnote. Ghmyrtle (talk) 10:26, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

We seem to have proved, thus far, that the use of any of the possible choices to describe Northern Ireland is controversial. As noted at the beginning of this Rfc, "country" may, or may not, be the best descriptor, but it is well referenced and has been stable for over a year. I do, however, agree with the proposal above to add the explanitory sentence (as modified) to the lead paragraph. As the lead should be a summary of information contained in the main article text, we should ensure the point is covered adequately there and not just in a footnote. Please note that only new and compelling argument is likely to change my view on this. Daicaregos (talk) 10:46, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Fair points. I'd only disagree on choice to "pick" one term over another simply for the heck of it (particularly without due attention to the significance of each) and say that previous versions had been stable before the current wording. What is your view of the other proposal (since we are looking for consensus not a vote)? --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 11:02, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't know what is meant by 'No-one on this article asked for the word "country"' but from the above comments it is clearly not true. Many people, including myself, think country is the best descriptor. DJ Clayworth (talk) 14:56, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Would someone please explain the difference between "NI is a country which is a part of the UK" and "NI is one of four countries of the United Kingdom". Why is the latter acceptable and not the former? My reading of latter implies a greater degree if independence than is the case but (as I said several times above) I have no problem with it other than the consistency issue. In practice it seems that RA's cause is better represented by teh qualifying sentence proposed above which makes the position very clear.--Snowded TALK 15:19, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
I guess it matters as to where you link to. It's the difference between "NI is a country which is a part of the United Kingdom", and "NI is one of four Countries of the United Kingdom".
The former links us to the country article, which is a little vague for our purposes and talks in general terms about what makes a country. The latter links to a discussion of the legalities of the boundaries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
To my mind, it would be a way of swaying anyone who popped into the article and immediately said "Hang on, since when did it go from a province/region etc to country". A country of the United Kingdom seems more of a technical rather than descriptive term in that sense to me. Alastairward (talk) 15:46, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Well the link is to Countries of the United Kingdom which was created for this purpose. Maybe the text from [[Constituent Country needs to move across there.--Snowded TALK 15:51, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Firstly, 'Northern Ireland has no history as a distinct country' is simply as offensive a statement as the current on-wiki campaign to erase the term 'Northern Irish' from the pedia on the basis that you 'can't be Northern Irish'. Northern Ireland has a history as a country in the same way that the Republic has. 'Country' is well understood to be a fluid and undefined term in the English language, it is certainly not the case that it requires the existence of a thousand years of unbroken borders for it to be considered a legitimate descriptor, especially when supported by primary sources. That part would certainly need clarification to stand. Secondly, I would drop all reference to 'it can be controversial', because while many of the sources support the summary claims that other people don't call NI a country, there is definitely not enough evidence there to be able to claim in the lede that there is a 'controversy' over the term. The actual controversy is about the whole history of NI, it is not merely about whether it is right that the UK currently considers it to be a country (and we should not be equating 25-35 year old sources with the UK view which most certainly is post-1998). MickMacNee (talk) 16:20, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

@DJ Clayworth - It means that the motivation to reach a "deal" over use of the word "country" in relation to the constituent parts of the UK originates in long-running and heated disptues on Talk:Scotland, Talk:Wales and Talk:England - not on Talk:Northern Ireland. Before this "deal" there was no meaningful desire to see Northern Ireland described as a "country" in the article. Consequently, the "deal" that was reached best represents the needs of Scotland, Wales and England - but not Northern Ireland.
@Snowded - The "that" in the current copy is used in place of the relative pronoun "which". Replacing the pronouns with the nouns they represent you get, "Northern Ireland is a country[,] Northern Ireland is a part of the UK." While the second statement in this sentence is true ("Northern Ireland is a part of the UK"), the first is highly contentious as a statement by itself ("Northern Ireland is a country") and flatly refuted by sources dealing with the topic. This is different to the case of Scotland, for example ("Scotland is a country[,] Scotland is a part of the UK"), since both statements are generally held to be true independent of each other.
The proposed sentence is, "Northern Ireland is one of four countries of the United Kingdom.". This sentence holds true since in that context Northern Ireland is more frequently - and less contentiously - called a "country". We also have lots of sources supporting that statement directly (i.e. talking about the UK as being made up of four counties, one of those being Northern Ireland). Add a footnote pointing out the difficulties around the term in other contexts and I'm dandy with Northen Ireland being called a "country" in that manner. (Certainly, it would not be my choice of terms but since other people want to call it one, it would fine.)
The problem is seperating Northern Ireland's "country-ness" form it being a part of the UK. They are one and the same thing (i.e. it is only in that context that Northern Ireland is widely considered a "country", apart from fringe views). The current copy (appears to) makes out that Northern Ireland is a "country" and a "part of the UK" as if they were two seperate things. That's fine for Scotland, England and Wales, but not so for Northern Ireland. The proposed copy make it clearer that Northern Ireland's "country-ness" and its being a part of the UK are one and the same thing. A footnote is sufficient to clarify the problem in other contexts - there's no need to beat readers over the head with it, articles should not be written to satisfy editors, they should be written to satisfy readers.
@MickMacNee - Thanks for that. Please see the sources I provided above. They are from respected authors of all persuasions - British, Irish, international, nationalist, unionist and neither - and across all periods of the past 30 years. They contradict what you say.
I was not aware of any "campaign" to erase "Northern Irish" from the 'pedia. There are libraries of book on that topic also (identity in Northern Ireland). These books aren't based on frivolous theorising, they are based on the lived experience of real people. Rubbishing them rubbishes the real-life experience of those people. There is a related discussion above. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 16:53, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Contradict what exactly? I am totally opposed to you stuffing in a miniature literary review into a Footnote just because you think that semantically, the opening line flatly states that NI is, and always was, a country, full stop. It doesn't say that, and it never did say that. The same kind of unnecessary explanatory footnotes could also be argued as being needed to explain how the UK, a country, can be made up of four countries, or how 'Northern' Ireland doesn't contain the most northerly part of Ireland which is occupied by the Republic of Ireland which is also called Ireland, or any other thing that people want to dispute and seem to think is not already in the article. Where does it end? You can put all the new information you want into the main body, and as long as it is accurate and not a massaging of the sources, then per wp:lede we can discuss appropriate wording in the lede to reflect it, but I see no point in having any footnote which soley bangs on and on about a single word when a reader hasn't even finished the first line of the article, and when the whole issue relates to the entire history of NI anyway. I mean, considering we have a shit-ton of material about how even the name of NI is disputed, don't you think people are going to catch on that its correct description is also going to be similarly complex? Or is your next request going to be for some sort of footnote that hangs off of the article title? MickMacNee (talk) 01:57, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
"Contradict what exactly?" - Reliable sources contradict your claim that, "Northern Ireland has a history as a country in the same way that the Republic has." The Republic, as you are probably aware, is a sovereign state, Northern Ireland is not. "Country" (in one sense of the word) is a synonym for such an entity. Northern Ireland does not have a history as a "country" in the same way that the Republic does. The many sources (from across the spectrum of perspectives on Northern Ireland) that I provided above explain, in such simple terms, why Northern Ireland is not a country, contrary to your claim. Not only in the sense of "country" that means a sovereign state (as in the Republic) but in other senses of the word also.
With regard to a "controversy" over this, a large part of the problem I have with the the proposed "controversy paragraph" (or a new section in the article body) is that, apart from fringe views, I don't see any evidence for "controversy" about calling Northern Ireland a country. Reliable sources don't mention one. They simply say that Northern Ireland is not a country. No controversy involved. If you think that there is a controversy, you could provide citations - preferably extended quotes - from reliable sources that describes this "controversy". (I have already provided such sources discussing the issue and saying, without mention of any controversy, that Northern Ireland is not a country.)
You're correct, it's possible to add a footnote explaining every pedantic point (such as the factoid that the most northerly point of Ireland is not in Northern Ireland). That doesn't mean that we can never have a footnote for anything because "Where does it end?" I really don't understand why you would think that a footnote would "bang on" about the issue, whereas a separate paragraph in the lede and a whole new section in the body would be much less so? This exactly what footnotes are for. Additionally, without sources to support the existence of a "controversy" such a paragraph and/or new section would reply on original research. (On the other hand, the footnote was based on six independent sources - including UK government sources - something you take issue with.)
Finally, I've explained above in plain terms of English grammar how the current copy states that Northern Ireland is a country (in flat terms). You disagree but did not provide a reason or point to any error in my argument. Can you do so? --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 10:48, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I don’t suppose that “Northern Ireland is a non-sovereign country……..” would help. (or possible “non-independent”). This seems to be at the heart of this debate. No one is disputing that it is verifiably a country, the sticking point is about what sort. Looking at country, it does mention the in the lead the normal situation but qualifies it with “Usually but not always…” This would apply to NI since its establishment in 1921. Leaky Caldron 11:14, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

"No one is disputing that it is verifiably a country, the sticking point is about what sort." - Yes, people are. Look at the sources provided at the top of the RFC (and by me thoughout). There are plenty of sources from all political persuasions and none that say flatly, "Northern Ireland is not a country." It's not about soveriegty - Scotland, England and Wales are commonly called countires, for example, there are plenty of sources to support that. In the case of Northern Ireland, reliable published sources draw a distinction between Northern Ireland and England/Scotland/Wales in this respect. Whereas those three are countries in a common sense, Northern Ireland is not. That is what the sources say. Aside from those that describe the UK being made up of four countries, which is a fine way to describe it a high-up level, the problem is when you drill down into the specific case of Northern Ireland. This is what the sources that I have been pointing to throughout say. (Also: Wikipedia is not a valid source.) --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 12:11, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
I thought you had accepted country in the lead with the additional qualification you were seeking? In order to have agreed to have the word in the lead you must presumably accept that country, in its basic usage, is not in dispute. Incidentally, although an unlikely source for encyclopaedic narrative, this removal company contains an interesting description. Presumably lifted from a publication.[19] Leaky Caldron 12:29, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
It seems to me that one difference is essentially that, while England, Scotland and Wales are demonstrably "nations" as well as being "countries" under many definitions of that word, NI is demonstrably not a "nation", while under some definitions it may still be described as a "country". So, to those for whom the term "country" necessarily implies a sense of nationhood, NI cannot be seen as falling into the same category as England, Scotland or Wales. They are all "countries", but not all the same type of "country". Ghmyrtle (talk) 12:30, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
Quite so. Interestingly though, nation is also widely recognised, as in Home Nations. Leaky Caldron 12:37, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
In sporting terms, the "nation" in "Home Nations" is often in fact the whole island of Ireland (rugby union, rugby league, hockey...). Ghmyrtle (talk) 12:58, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
Quite right Gh. I wasn't using it as a serious proposition in support of Nation. I think this thread fork should be disregarded! Leaky Caldron 13:07, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
And for that reason I am happy to have the word "country" appear in the lede once it is clear what type of country Northern Ireland is: a "constituent country of the United Kingdom" or (since that phrase seems to displease some editors from the "mainland") "one of the four countries of the United Kingdom" is just fine. A footnote is perfectly sufficient to clarify other matters relating to the issue of what to call Northern Ireland ("region", "province", "country", etc.).
This is necessary because of the unusual sense in which "country" is meant in relation to Northern Ireland - not a nation or a state, as most would take from the word, merely a constituent member of the United Kingdom. That is a rare and unusual sense for the word to be meant in, one not mirrored even by the other constituent parts of the UK.
("Consituent country", by the way, was a long-stable version of this article before the current wording was concocted for the benefit of editors no Talk:England, Talk:Scotland and Talk:Wales.)
(With regard to "Home Nations" vs. "country", both of these terms for the contituent parts of the UK date from before the partition of Ireland, before the specific issue of Northern Ireland. In many respects all of Ireland is still a "home nation" e.g. in rugby.) --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 12:48, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
"One of the four countries...." seems fine to me. Surely that could be used for the other 3 as well, for those seeking consistency? Leaky Caldron 12:55, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
Unfortunately that doesn't seem clear. Our question here is whether Northern Ireland has become a separate country or whether it is just an administrative division of the UK (in most respects) and Ireland (in a few other respects such as sports). If I understand this correctly, this is related to whether you want a unified Ireland. I think for Scotland the question was whether it was 'just' a country of the United Kingdom or much more (but also less, because the word excludes the geography): a nation. Hans Adler 13:28, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
What was wrong with "constituent country"? (Although "one of the four countries" is a good option.) Mooretwin (talk) 13:41, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
That was a previously stable version. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 13:51, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
The current wording is (in my opinion, a bit awkard but) perfectly appropriate for Engaland/Scotland/Wales. Bearing in mind the origin of the current wording (arising from a desire to end disputes over how to use the word "country" on those articles), I wouldn't imagine editors over there would be too pleased about being asked to soften the wording just to suit Northern Ireland. Neither should they need to - they are four seperate articles, dealing with four seperate topics, they don't need uniformity where it doesn't exist (nor would that be desirable). --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 13:51, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
I'll repeat this one last time - you can add whatever you like to the main article based on your many sources that assert NI is not a country, but they do not belong in a Footnote, that is categorically not what they are for. Where you got the idea that they are is beyond me - if you know of any FA's that do something similar, feel free to point them out. If your need for a footnote is because NI is not a sovereign state, or that some people don't call it a country (even though primary sources do), then I really am sorry, but you are well and truly not presenting any new arguments that were not already presented and dismissed for England, Scotland and Wales, which all agreed on the present wording to correctly assert that in the lede, county <> sovereign state, and there really is no special case for NI on that basis. And by the by, the same primary source that calls NI a country is the same primary source that decided it should be called Northern Ireland in the first place, similarly disputed by many other sources, so why, on your apparent basis for needing to footnote for 'country', do you not also consider one is needed for the name aswell? This issue is absolutely something that is covered by 'where does it end?' MickMacNee (talk) 19:43, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
  • From Wikipedia:Footnotes: "Wikipedia footnotes serve two purposes. First, to add explanatory material, particularly if the added information would be distracting if written out in the main article. Second, they are used to present citations to reliable sources that support assertions in the main article." This kind of situation is categorically what footnotes are for. If deemed necessary reference lists and explanatory notes can be separated out (see the "Advanced" subsection on Wikipedia:Footnotes.)
  • Examples of FAs that have mixed a reference list and explanatory notes are Malcolm X and Khalid al-Mihdhar (both have such an explanatory note in the first sentence). An example of a FA that has separated a reference list and explanatory notes is Inaugural games of the Flavian Amphitheatre. Just click through a few links at Wikipedia:Featured articles and you'll find more. I grant you they are not common but they are useful to clarify certain matters.
  • "...you are well and truly not presenting any new arguments that were not already presented and dismissed for England, Scotland and Wales..." Correct. The arguments (or more accurately the sources) that I am presenting relate specifically to Northern Ireland, not England/Scotland/Wales. The sources I am presenting support the current wording with regard to England, Scotland and Wales but refute it in the case of Northern Ireland. Examples:
    • "Although a seat of government, strictly speaking Belfast is not a 'capital' since Northern Ireland is not a 'country', at least not in the same sense that England, Scotland and Wales are 'countries'." - J Morrill, 2004, The promotion of knowledge: lectures to mark the Centenary of the British Academy 1992-2002, Oxford University Press: Oxford
    • "... the UK is certainly a state; equally certainly, none of England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland is a state. Yet most people would consider that 'England', 'Scotland,' and 'Wales,' are the names of nations; and at least some would say the same of 'Northern Ireland,' though that is manifestly a more disputable point." - Ronald Beiner, 1999, Theorizing Nationalism, State University of New York Press: Albany
The issue is not one of "county <> sovereign state". It's simply one of verifiable sources explicitly stating that Northern Ireland is not a country (in contrast to England, Scotland, Wales). This doesn't mean that the UK cannot be described as being made up of "four countries" - that's a handy short hand when there's only one "odd man out". What it means is that when speaking specifically about Northern Ireland the term is inappropriate. This is why the UK government more far more frequently uses other terms when speaking specifically about Northern Ireland ("province" for example) and the Northern Ireland executive (apparently) never uses the term ("province" appears to be its choice above others). The sources to support this are all referenced above. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 21:27, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
Whaty utter nonsense. If you honestly believe that 'oh, by the way, NI is not a country' classes as information that is of no real importance and doesn't warrant distracting the reader from the main article and can therefore be stuffed into a footnote, then you are frankly off your head. Your reading of the footnote guidelines is way off base. Your examples of Malcom X and Khalid al-Mihdhar are frankly laughable if you think the importance of information being noted is even comparable to your note, which even if you suspend reality, can be seen in the difference in the amount of text you want to footnote. And I think you need some history lessons if you seriously think that just because 300 years ago Scotland was a sovereign state, that fact somehow means that Belfast doesn't compare to Dublin as a 'seat of a government' right now, or that Belfast is somehow massively different to Edinburgh in the modern day UK. Your arguments are utterly one-sided, and seek to use a source to support something on the one hand, and then utterly ignore it on the other. This doesn't fly when looked at from a neutral perspective. MickMacNee (talk) 01:26, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
I agree that that it is nonsensical to have a footnote that effectively contradicts the body text. Particularly one that does so through way of verifiable sources. The issue, I would say, is with the body text not the footnote.
Regarding the rest of your comment, it would help greatly if you produced counter examples of sources. I have provided many quotations from a range of sources discussing this precise problem (i.e. what to call Northern Ireland). The ones I have provided advise against calling Northern Ireland a country. They explain why. I have never come across any others. What would be really useful would be if you could produce similar sources, ones that also discuss this precise problem (i.e. what to call Northern Ireland) and conclude that Northern Ireland is a country. They would likely explain why too. Thanks. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 12:38, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

The objection to the bald statement that NI is a country was that it has not neutral, not that it was not verified. Language that is perfectly neutral in England, Scotland or Wales may not be regarded as neutral in NI. Evidence that a particular phrasing is acceptable in other places does nothing whatsoever to show that such phrasing is neutral in NI and simply clutters up this talk page. The present phrasing used on the page was never shown to be neutral and some of the assertions previously made on talk pages which give rise to this wording e.g. NI is described as a country every day in the NI assembly are completely unsupported. Anyone proposing a wording must show that it is not politically divisive in the NI context. Stating that it is used in London, but never in NI, is not a reason to claim that it is not divisive in NI, on the contrary it is evidence of division. Better anaemic wording than non neutral wording. --194.46.253.46 (talk) 01:19, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

Support RA's proposal. It's more precise and informative than both the current wording, and Snowded's proposal. Stu ’Bout ye! 14:15, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

Attempt at summary

We are now in one of those debates that could only take place where ordinary language starts to be used a symbols of long standing conflict. Its not just on Irish pages, there are others in Wikipedia. I'm not sure that any language can be found that could not be considered politically divisive in some way or another. Rather than keep going over old ground can we see what we are agreed on and where the disagreements stand:

  1. All agree that the statement that NI is a country is verified, but some editors think it is not neutral
  2. All editors agree that the historical context of NI is different from England, Scotland or Wales, but there are differences on if this should be reflected in the lede and if so how
  3. Some editors want consistency in the opening sentence between the four countries of the UK, others do not see the need
  4. There are disagreements over the use of footnotes (even before we come to the text)
  5. Editors who are strongly against "NI is a country which is a part of the UK" are happy to accept "NI is one of four countries of the United Kingdom"
  6. There is no dispute that other terms than country are frequently used in connection with NI, which have their own controversies
  7. There is no dispute that NI has a legislative assembly comparable with those in Scotland and Wales
  8. There is a dispute over the weight of sources, some editors feeling that the UK government is authoritative, others disputing that and also arguing that the UK Government is it self not consistent in its use.

Is that accurate? Is it possible that we can stop arguing about the solution for a bit and see if we can agree on a summary of the position?

I personally agree with your summary. I also want to affirm that even though I support the position of Northern Ireland as a country, I am willing to accept the alternative "NI is one of four countries of the United Kingdom".--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 10:09, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

In respect of point 5 I have posted notices on the other article pages to test reaction to such a change. I suggest editors involved here do not carry over the dispute to those pages (those curious can come here anyway) but just see what the response is. --Snowded TALK 05:40, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

(ec) I disagree with the word "only" in your first sentence. The main problem here is the dispute about language. While learning a language we form hypotheses in our minds about what a word like "country" means and how it is used. For some words the way they are used is so complicated that different people form different hypotheses simply by accident. If two of these hypotheses overlap sufficiently so that both explain more than 95% (say) of uses and if they are both similarly consistent with when the word is not used, then either speaker will be totally convinced that their hypothesis is the (only) correct one. This is a phenomenon related to confirmation bias. I have seen this lead to enormous conflicts in all parts of Wikipedia including mathematical logic. However I agree that politics gives such a dispute an additional dimension that makes it even harder to for one side to assume good faith with the other.
More importantly, there is a problem with your statement 1. Like "state", "country" can mean roughly two different things depending on context. "The United States is a state consisting of states." This is correct but misleading, since the first "state" refers to the meaning as a more or less independent, often sovereign, state, and the second refers to federated states. The main reason why England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not federated states is that the UK is not a federation but something more complex. As a German currently living in Austria I am used to "Land" ("country") being translated as "state" when it refers to one of the "Bundesländer" (federated states, literally "federated countries"). I am sure none of you has ever heard the claim that Germany or Austria "are divided into countries", which is what we say literally in German. This suggests to me that the use of "country" for an administrative division of a state is relatively unusual in English. Presumably it's very misleading for an American, who is not used to this special case.
The statement that Northern Ireland is a country is only verified insofar as one of the possible meanings of "country" technically applies to Northern Ireland. Any statement that "Northern Ireland is a country" will live in a context. Depending on this context the word "country" will more likely be read in one way or another. In some contexts the statement is verified, in others it isn't. Methods to set a context in which the statement is verified include "country of", "constituent country" and almost anything that has the number 4 or the names of the other 3 countries in it. The neutrality issues arise when editors push against setting the context necessary to make the statement verified. This also explains your statement 5. "NI is a country which is a part of the UK" is the kind of tortuous language that one would use to make it explicit that the word "country" is not used in the sense that would make this sentence verified but with its primary meaning. For comparison: The more straightforward "The country of NI is a part of the UK" would leave the context ambiguous. Hans Adler 10:21, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
PS: Your summary says nothing about wiki links. While secondary, they also establish context for at least some of our readers, so similar issues arise with them. Hans Adler 10:27, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Ditto. Snowded, you're missing the point. There is, I think, little disagreement over what sources say, the problem is the weight being attached to different sources. A more useful summary (I think) is as follows:
On the "anti country" side:
  • The overwhelming majority of sources refer to Northern Ireland more frequently using other terms (including the UK government and - apparently always - the Northern Ireland executive)
  • Many sources (of all political persuasions and none) explicitly state that Northern Ireland is not a "country"
  • Sources that discuss the issue we are facing (i.e. what to call Northern Ireland) explicitly state that Northern Ireland not a "country"
  • Sources draw contrasts between England/Scotland/Wales and Northern Ireland with regard to the word "country", saying that while the former are "countries" the latter is not
On the "pro country" side:
  • Sources often described the UK as being made up of "four countries", one of which is Northern Ireland (including the UK government)
  • Sources occasionally describe Northern Ireland as a "country" without qualification
The matter is one of undue weight. There are sources that support use of the word "country" with respect to Northern Ireland, the problem is the unnatural weight being attached to them. This is a general encyclopedia. It should to be written for the benefit of readers, not editors. Putting such undue weight on an unusual and obscure use of the word "country" (i.e. a constituent part of the UK) - a meaning that doesn't even appear in a dictionary or any legal text - is not in the interest of the encyclopedia. Whatever is meant to be expressed by it can be expressed using a better construction of words - one likely to be readily understood by our readers.
(Add to this that, in a political sense, the assertion that Northern Ireland is a distinct "country", in the usually understood sense of the word, is a fringe and highly controversial view in Northern Ireland politics - cf. Joseph N. Cleary, 2002, Literature, partition and the nation-state: culture and conflict in Ireland, Isreal and Palestine, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge for a discussion of this perspective. The issue thus further touches on giving "equal validity" as well as broader NPOV issues. I don't believe that this is the intention of any of the advocates of "country" on this page but it is no-less a result of the current text.) --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 12:04, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
I am not missing the point RA, I am trying to get to a statement of facts/agreements to make progress rather than constant repetition of the same arguments. --Snowded TALK 20:54, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

As exected the proposed changes to the wording on the Scotland article has been opposed and its not even worth attempting to change peoples minds there. Its also not worth waiting for the responses on the England and Wales pages, as its clear there will not be unanimous support for change. I there for strongly oppose any change to this articles first sentence, the status quo must remain but lets follow Snowded's suggestion for an extra explanation on Northern Irelands status in the intro.

To be honestly if people are happy with "One of the four countries of the United Kingdom", then you are accepting Northern Ireland is a country. There for the claims that the introduction is currently incorrect is simply misleading. BritishWatcher (talk) 18:40, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

(ec with new section below) Your last paragraph suffers from the same "'country' = 'country'" confusion as Snowded's first point above. I am not going to repeat once more why it doesn't work that way; the last such explanation was in this section.
You are misrepresenting the current state of the discussion at Talk:Scotland#Testing the water. As I am writing there are four reactions: All four agree that the Scotland article should not be changed to accommodate the Northern Ireland article. None of them seems to mind if we change this article. In fact, they all agree that the situation here is different. At the England and Wales articles there have been no responses yet.
This suggests to me that there will not actually be any problems at those other articles if we simply change the language here to make this article correctly reflect the situation for its subject. The homogeneity argument is looking more and more like a convenient excuse for stonewalling against precise language. Hans Adler 19:14, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
I fully agree with RA and others who support a modification to the opening sentence of this article. It has been amply demonstrated that the four "countries" are not the same sort of "countries" as each other, because of the different ways in which their administrative arrangements have developed over the centuries. The wording "NI is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom" is a better, mre subtly nuanced, expression of the position of NI than the current wording. Consistency is generally desirable, but should not get in the way of improving the text of any particular article; and this case it is not an all-important factor. Where the UK government uses the word "country" for NI, it does so as a convenient shorthand expression of a complex constitutional position, not as definitive terminology. Ghmyrtle (talk) 19:33, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
@BritishWather, as one of the respondents to the post on Talk:Scotland wrote: horses for courses. Each article describes its own topic as best as it can for the reader. What is needed for Northern Ireland is a more subtle approach to this issue since it is even more complex with relation to Northern Ireland than it is even for England/Scotland/Wales. There are an abundance of more nuanced wordings compared to the current copy that still contain the word "country" (as many editors seem to want that). The suggestions by Peterkingiron below are also excellent. There is absolutely no need to enforce an artificial "consistency" across the four articles, we treat each topic as is appropriate for that topic. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 20:53, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

Further comments

  • I come to this discussion as an Englishman, without having participated before. The UK consists of 3 legal jurisdictions: England and Wales; Scotland; Northern Ireland. The constitutional arrangements differ between these, but NI and Scotland are roughly on a par. England, Wales and Scotland are constituent countries of UK, so why not Northern Ireland? I have frequently heard NI referred to as a "province", but strictly it is only 6 of the 9 counties of the ancient province of Ulster, one of the four ancient provinces of Ireland. Country is commonly used to refer to a sovereign state, which NI is clearly not. However, if one argues that NI is not a country, it must be part of some other "country", presumably meanign that the sovereign national state of Eire is only part of a country: I do not think that is a tenable position. Finding literature proividing a NPOV on an issue like this will inevitably be difficult. If the problem is merely about the lead, could not a sereis of descriptions be used? e.g. 'one of the fourt countries or constituent parts of the UK' or perhaps 'one of the four "countries" constituting the UK' (indicating that the concept that it is a country is not wholly accepted - an issue that could be discussed further down). I do not intend to enter further into this debate. Peterkingiron (talk) 18:54, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
If you look closer at the discussion above, you will see that the problem is precisely that some hardliners are rejecting the language that you are proposing. "Country", like "state", has two slightly different meanings. The "state" of Maryland isn't the same kind of state as the "state" of Canada, and the "country" of Wales isn't the same kind of country as the "country" of France. Since we are using the word "country" in a less common sense we need to set up the appropriate context, e.g. by one of the formulations that you are proposing. Unfortunately a certain number of editors is insisting on using literally the same formulation as in the other 3 articles; a formulation that seems designed to set an inappropriate context; to make it appear that the connotations of sovereignty and connection to a nation apply. In the case of England, Wales and Scotland this is historically justifiable and it is bootlicking to all editors with an increased interest in the specific article. In the case of Northern Ireland it is not historically justifiable and is offensive to some of the editors with an increased interest.
In other words, some editors here are trying to push an inaccurate description that they know is offensive to some who have different political opinions. Hans Adler 19:28, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
I'd recommend you strike that last statement Adler, there is no evidence to support it. --Snowded TALK 20:50, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
I honestly don't know which part you are objecting to, as I would not have written this sentence if it wasn't my honest impression. Are you objecting to "push", to "inaccurate", or to "know is offensive"? Or is your disagreement harder to explain? Hans Adler 20:57, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Its fairly obvious. From "In other words .." to the end. You are making an unsupported accusation about the behaviour of other editors rather than dealing with the content --Snowded TALK 21:03, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Unfortunately it's necessary to raise the discussion to a meta level when stone walling occurs. Often it's done informally on the affected talk page itself, but you are right that we are supposed to take it to a different forum. Which do you suggest? WP:NPOV/N? WP:ANI? WP:AE? Any other idea? Hans Adler 21:11, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
I suggest you read WP:AGF and try to come to terms that "stone walling" does not mean disagreeing with you. this is a complex matter with citation support for all the varying positions. No debate is helped by the sort of comment you have made above.--Snowded TALK 21:23, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Agree with Hans' suggestion of raising his comments to WP:ANI, which would be the appropriate arena for the type of unsupported and offensive comments made in his post here. Daicaregos (talk) 21:36, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
You are welcome. Go ahead. Hans Adler 21:40, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Hans, its really simple, you just strike through that line, happy to accept that you were getting frustrated and didn't mean to cause offense, but digging your heels in is a mistake. --Snowded TALK 21:49, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
I didn't mean to cause offence, I meant to stop the stone walling. Once we can execute the consensus at this article without starting an edit war the above statement will have outlived its usefulness and I will happily strike it. Hans Adler 22:05, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
It may have escaped your notice, but there is no consensus at the moment. However its pretty obvious that you are not able to simply apologise for getting something wrong, so I'll leave it. I strongly recommend you keep off the personal remarks in future. Address the content issues please. --Snowded TALK 22:09, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
I got an edit conflict with you when trying to strike the statement. I have now been told to do so by editors from both sides. I don't understand why, but it appears that it is not seen as helpful, so I have followed the advice. As to consensus or not I will reply in more detail. Hans Adler 22:14, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
The debate here has remained essentially civil here for over 2 weeks. Progress has been slow, but there has been a degree or two. There is already a case open at WP:NPOV/N. I would be concerned if this went to ANI. Nothing good is likely to come of it.Leaky Caldron 21:43, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Hans, I don't believe that the motivation for the current wording lies in a political opinion on Northern Ireland. The genesis of it lies in attempts to reach a resolution to disputes over how to describe England, Scotland and Wales (and so may reflect a political opinion with respect to those places). I don't think much thought was paid to Northern Ireland at all when coming up with it. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 21:21, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Peterkingiron, I agree with all of your suggestions. The problem is an insistance by a few editors that the current copy cannot change (in order to keep "consistency" with the ENG/SCO/WAL articles). The matter is of course complex and a more nuanced approach is required and you suggest. (I'll add that the "presumably" of what country Northern Ireland belongs to is either/both Ireland and the United Kingdom, according to your persuasion - that is at least what sources say, many of these are referenced at the top of the RFC with some more throughout.) --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 20:42, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

Why Hans thinks we have reached consensus

We all agree that Northern Ireland is a "country" of one kind or another, and that this should (or at least can) be said in the first sentence. The main positions strongly held by some but rejected by others appear to be:

(A) The first sentence in this article must be exactly parallel to the first sentences in in the England, Wales and Scotland articles.

(B) Being a "country" is not an objective property that Northern Ireland has or does not have. Whether Northern Ireland can be called a "country" depends on the context.

A small number of editors insists on (A). A lot of editors have made it explicit that they do not agree with (A). All editors who commented at Talk:Scotland also do not agree with (A) [edited, see below]. Nobody commented at Talk:England or Talk:Wales.

A large number of editors agrees with (B). Several editors argue in a way that suggests they do not agree with (B), but explicit contradiction of 2 is rare.

The most promising candidates for the wording of the first sentence appear to be:

  1. Northern Ireland is a country that is a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ... [current wording]
  2. Northern Ireland is one of four countries making up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ... [or some slight variant thereof]

In this RfC I have counted 5 proponents of 1 (Snowded, MickMacNee, DJ Clayworth, Daicaregos, Jeanne Boleyn) and 10 proponents of 2 (rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid, Peterkingiron, Ghmyrtle, Hans Adler, Stuart, an anonymous editor from Dublin, Mooretwin, Leaky Caldron, Alastairward, Ardmacha). Of the 5 proponents of 1, Jeanne Boleyn would also agree with 2. Since 1 is the status quo, it is unclear how many proponents of 2 would also agree with 1. Britishwatcher is a special case, preferring 2, but only if the other three articles are changed as well. I felt it would have been inappropriate to count Willski72, Matthew or GoodDay.

Thus 2 outweighs 1 at a ratio of 2:1 in terms of supporting editors. Moreover (A), the main argument for 1, contradicts what appears to be a Wikipedia-wide consensus: that deals forged at one article do not take precedence over the special situation at another article. And (B), the main argument for 2, has not been addressed by the proponents of 1. Altogether I think it is fair to say that there is a consensus for 2. Hans Adler 23:18, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

A fair summary. It is the baggage that is/may be required to support qualify via the footnotes for (2) that will present the next challenge. Leaky Caldron 23:25, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Fishiehelper2's contribution here has not been considered. Are there others? Daicaregos (talk) 00:13, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. I am aware that there may be issues with the details of the counting, but I tried to be objective. I just realised that in one detail I stated the opposite of what I wanted to say (the 4 Scotland editors reject, not support, (A)), so I fixed that. Hans Adler 23:31, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Not really, your summary is a little polarised. Most editors who are happy the current version are also provisionally with the four countries option (if you check that includes myself and others) but have concerns about consequences for other pages (hence posting a test question on each page to see what the reaction is). There are also concerns about any footnotes which have not been discussed. The combined option I suggested above (to try and get people thinking about compromises) above has only had a limited number of editors discussing, some of those you reference have not participated for some time. --Snowded TALK 23:58, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
I think we are reaching the point where it would be useful to have a new straw poll on clear alternative wordings for the opening paragraph. Ghmyrtle (talk) 08:55, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
I agree as this discussion is clearly going nowhere.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 09:03, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
The issue for me is that while "country" is fine in that context, it still need qualification of one kind or another. There is no definitive answer to "what is Northern Ireland" and we shouldn't pretend that there is. What ever we choose (if we need to choose anything?), we will need to qualify it. I believe that we should step away from bald definitive statements that Northern Ireland is unequivically one thing or another ("province", "region", "country", whatever) but my reason for suggesting that particular statement was that it included the word "country" (apparently important to some) but places it in it's least controversial, and best referenced, context. We still need however to footnote it to say that even there is no definitive statement of "what is Northern Ireland". --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 00:04, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Concerning footnotes: Ideally a lead should summarise the body of the article and therefore not need any footnotes. In particular the "country" question needs to be addressed in the article in one way or another. However, with potentially controversial statements it is sometimes necessary to provide footnotes to make them more stable. (For an extreme example see Homeopathy.) Otherwise disagreeing readers will think the statement simply states an opinion, and that it's OK to rewrite it to state the opposite opinion without even a source. This does not quite seem to be the case here.

Personally I think once we claim no more than that NI is one of the countries of the United Kingdom, i.e. an administrative division of the UK, the statement isn't really very controversial any more. The long footnote provided by RA looks like undue weight to me, at least for the lead. Perhaps we can create a new section. It seems to me that treatment of the complexity of Northern Ireland (geographically Irish, politically British, culturally both – does that describe it?) is currently spread over the entire article. Since this is a key characteristic of NI it would be worthwhile to discuss it in detail somewhere, and such a discussion could naturally include the "country" question as well as alternatives such as "province", "statelet" etc. Hans Adler 00:32, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Comment: I'd be happy with Option 2 at Wales (it's a small change and I'm sure it would be fine), and for me it suits NI too. The piped article was made to deal with definition disagreement after all. The change may not settle that well at Scotland, but does that matter? If 'part of' suites the current editors there better then so be it - we are all of differently similar after all. A consensus that has lasted a whole year (and still works now as far as I'm concerned) on UK nationality shouldn't be sniffed at, and a lot of work went into finding it. Option 2 is close enough to it for me, and in phrasing I actually prefer it (or some close variant of it).
Why not poll and make the change before dealing with any other stuff? Afterwards, I'd personally add something on 'province' and 'region' to the last 'identity' line in the intro, which is too limited (NI doesn't isn't only about Unionists and Nationalists.) Competing matters often work well as bookends, like A-list actors on a title card. Reading the Intro I'm wondering where paragraph 3 is? The whole intro is really officious and bland. There should be something positive written before jumping into the Troubles surely! Good Intros tend to have 4 parags, and with a new first line and a positive paragraph 3, more information on identity at the end won't seem so unweighted. Without something positive in there, it might seem too much of the same.
I've not read much of the above debate to be honest, so apologies if anything is repeated. I am serious about inserting a positive paragraph - try and read it with a fresh eye: it's a glaring omission, and writing one will change the complexion of the whole intro. For me, NI is clearly a country with modern young people, ethnic people, newly invigorated people - many who identify purely with 'Northern Ireland' as their home, nation and country, for various logical and natural reasons. I think Wikipedia is so stuck in the past with NI, people are reticent to join in and focus on the future. After 88 years as a new country (in my opinion the UK clearly created a definable country, despite how they chose to refer to it) many generations of people have now grown up there, settlers have started families there, and devolution is now 10 years old. Wikipedia has a duty to reflect this 'individuality' in some way, not to constantly debate legitimacy, and frankly focus almost constantly on the past. Matt Lewis (talk) 03:19, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Matt, I don't disagree a whole lot with what you say in real terms (accepting that we come from slightly different perspective on Northern Ireland) but in terms of Wikipedia we are an encyclopedia: a compendium of knowledge, not a producer of it. If the body of knowledge says X, we don't say Y because we think that that is more accurate (or positive) going forward. We say X.
I disagree wholly with just 'picking a word and going with it'. What to call Northern Ireland is a real issue in the body of knowledge with no definitive answer (in contrast with England, Scotland and Wales, where the answer is more solid and substantiated). "Country" may be one. "Country of the United Kingdom" may be another. "Province" may be more common. "Region" may be more officious. In terms of knowledge about Northern Ireland, they all imply a perspective and most imply a certainty with regard to Northern Ireland.
Here's another example of the kind of references to Northern Ireland that are far more frequent:
  • "…the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (usually shortened to the United Kingdom or the UK), of the North-western coast of continental Europe, is a country which is in turn composed of three constituent countries - England, Scotland, and Wales - on the island of Great Britain, and the province of Northern Ireland on the island of Ireland." - Paul Close, David Askew, Xin X, 2007, The Beijing Olympiad: the political economy of a sporting mega-event, Routledge: Oxon
We cannot make one definitive statement about Northern Ireland because one does not exist. That's why if we do make something that approaches definitive we will need to temper it in some manner. I suggest a footnote explaining the issue and our choice of word. We can add more content to the body on the matter if that is thought worthy but if we make a POV choice in the lede (which is essentially any choice), we will need to explain it. It will need to come with a health warning, not least because the body of knowledge attaches a health warning to it but also because no choice reflects consensus in the body of knowledge.
That Northern Ireland is "not a country" is far from a fringe opinion. Indeed it would be normally quite the opposite. Hearing Northern Ireland referred to as being a "country" is quite a rare thing and a choice that will need to be explained. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 09:12, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
In simple terms it has been a case of choosing a word and using it - ie deciding which is the best appellation to use, and how best to explain the issues surrounding it. The highest-level entities involved for me are: 1) The sovereign state (the UK Govt, as NI is in the UK), and 2) This encyclopedia (how Wikipedia defines 'country' itself). They both pass the use of 'country' for NI, which is clearly - in a value sense - above the UK's (or anyone else's) use of 'region' and 'province'. With the UK Govt being the primary source of 'country's use, a lesser apellation cannot be fairly used without demoting the subject in value. Sometimes the only way is to assign a 'primary source and definition', and then get any issues surrounding it in too. That is quite an old Wikipedia guideline. Certainly balance has to be there in the Intro regarding the whole issue of identity, and the last lines are the ideal place for that in my opinion. I'm not sure what you wanted to do with footnotes, but they are a traditionally a place for surplus or connected detail, not for relevant and significant information like the commonname terms 'province' and 'region'. Matt Lewis (talk) 12:48, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Trying again

Two points in respect of the above debate (i) Province is very controversial, as from a republican perspective Ulster is the Province and Northern Ireland is only 6/9th of that, and from a Unionist perspective we have the various attempts to use Ulster and Ulster flag while saying that NI is a province of Britain. (ii) the constitutional arrangements of Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland are similar, although NI has the option to become part of Ireland under the GFA. Its worth remembering those points especially given. The UK increasingly has a form of devolution over its "parts" and that is a post 1920 change. The nationalist movements in Scotland on Wales and the historical existence as countries makes them different. However the current state is very similar and things do change.

So, moving forwards, there is a solution which says that:

  1. The first sentence of the lede becomes :"Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom" The pipelinks here are important
  2. No changes are made or sought to the wording of England, Wales and Scotland at this moment, they need common wording to avoid conflict
  3. Some material from Constituent Country needs to move across to Countries of the United Kingdom
  4. There are no footnotes in the lede
  5. A new section in the article is opened up on names which takes a similar form to that currently agreed on Constituent Country this is agreed here and the changes made as one

Personally I think my earlier proposed compromise is better and clearer. It uses a stable form (the best part of the year) and immediately explains the controversy without the need for pipelinks. However, having been involved in the North since1968 (my first visit and to Derry) I know the totemistic use of words. So testing the water again, what do people think? --Snowded TALK 09:21, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Snowded, I think there should be footnotes in the lead, explaining NI's particular status as a country in respect to England, Scotland and Wales; otherwise, the polemics will continue in the same vein we have here on this talk page.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 09:32, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
The lede is meant to summarise the article so should not have footnotes. Your point is a good one which I why I prefer my earlier compromise. --Snowded TALK 09:36, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, your original summary was good, and I agreed with your compromise. It should be written down again here, as it's quite far up the page. Gmyrtle suggests we have a straw poll. What do you think?--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 09:38, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
(ec) Sounds perfect to me, except I would suggest a single short footnote saying something like "Regarding the question of Northern Ireland's status as a country, see below". If there is anything about the UK countries in constituent country that is not in countries of the United Kingdom, then as you propose that needs fixing of course. As I see it the UK section in constituent country should summarise the other article. Is what you are proposing contentious material that was rejected at countries of the United Kingdom? I am just trying to understand whether we are about to run into any problems. Hans Adler 09:42, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Constituent Country covers more than the UK and is not really the place for detail. Countries of the United Kingdom was created to hold material, including prior discussions. Recently RA added material to Constituent Country that I think would be better at Countries of the United Kingdom. I nodified that and RA accepted the modifications. So I think that could just move across intact. I don;t anticipate rejection. --Snowded TALK 10:37, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
"Is what you are proposing contentious material that was rejected at countries of the United Kingdom?" - I think Snowded is assuming that we have arrived at a "final" version for copy on Countries of the United Kingdom. That's not the case. That article is still under development (as are all wiki articles, obviosly) including the section on Northern Ireland - a note in relation to Wales has also been added for example. We cannot lock down articles on the 'pedia for fear someone might tamper with our "deals", no matter how well-intentioned we are in brokering them. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 10:19, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
No article can ever be locked down, but I am saying that this agreement does not (at least for the editors involved) mean anything other than an agreement for NI. --Snowded TALK 10:39, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
I might be misunderstanding "footnote", but doesn't that appear at the bottom, in which case saying "see below" doesn't make sense. However, I support the latest lead suggestion. Leaky Caldron 09:51, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Some points:
  1. We should link all of "one of the four countries" (at least per MOS) but also since that is the context in wich "country" is meant.
  2. We need a footnote in the lede. There is no definitve answer to this question and we cannot just "pick one" for convienience or preference's sake without explaining our choice. The wording of that footnote is likely to flux for while until it settles into something that is consensus and appropriate. We don't need to decide on the one-only-and-best wording now like some jury of elders. This is a wiki, it's left open, that's now things get written.
  3. With respect to point 3 and 5, both of those article require developing. Matt, myself and Breadandcheese have been reworking the intro a little to the "Countries" article but both still need working on. This is a Wiki, we don't "freeze" copy, we build it up collaboratively. The purpose of consensus is not to act as a block to further improvement.
  4. The second part of point 2 is IMHO irrevelent to this discussion, the first part stands as a matter of course.
I also don't know if a staw poll is a good idea. They really are not a substitute for consensus. And neither, by the way, in my opinion, are "deals" struck on talk pages between a relatively small number of editors - they just shore up trouble for future. The 'pedia has to be free to be edited - that's is core.
(I'll add that I'm bemused by your concern for Repubilcan sensibilities to "Province" ... erm, "country"? ... and you're worried that "province" might not be NPOV?) --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 10:12, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
As to your last point, look to your own references! It is not normal to have a footnote in the lede. the pipelink to Countries of the United Kingdom means that the explanation is there, and people are more likely to use a pipelink than a footnote anyway. Please note that I suggested a section in the main article on the controversies over what to call NI. That also covers the issue, the lede is meant to summarise the article. And for the record nothing in what I have said could be interpreted as saying that articles should be frozen, No idea where you have got that idea from. --Snowded TALK 10:44, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
I totally agree with S.'s point about the article body covering all WP:RS etc., material that represents the diverse opinions on the name. So long as that was written as NPOV it would be a very useful addition to the main article and benefit the reader, whereas a footnote implies a sort of irrelevant, optional supplementary piece which does not do full justice to the topic. Leaky Caldron 10:53, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Without a footnote (or another suggestion to get around the same problem) I cannot support any wording suggested so far. None address the core issue that any choice of wording is problematic. We cannot definitively state that Northern Ireland is X, Y or Z without noting that there is no generally accepted answer to "what Northern Ireland is" in the body of knowledge on the topic. All are problematic in one way or another - "country" probably most of all. All come with references - "country" maybe least of all and with a greatest number of references (from all persepctives and none) that simply and flatly refute it, and explain why. ("Country" is also the very problematic since it is the least defined word and the sense in which it is meant here is the most obscure and least likely to be understood straight off by our readers.)
If we present any choice as if it is definitive then we are misrepresenting knowledge on the subject. We are not here to set right the wrongs of history or to "correct" knowledge on a topic. If something doesn't fit into a box, we don't shove it into one and say nothing about it. Some things just don't have boxes to fit in.
We also cannot rely on links to explain what we mean by words. Not least because we cannot assume that those links will be available when a user reads the article. Wikipedia articles are published by redistrubtors and need to be written with that in mind (it is a part of the mission statement of this project). We cannot assume that an article we link to here will be available in another distribution, never mind assuming that that distribution will be in hypertext format. A footnote on the other hand is a part of the article. It's purpose is to explain the choice of words used in the article.
@Snoweded - which was my "last point"? If it was re: "province", I'm only surprised at your sudden interest in the sensibilities around these words (as opposed to simply picking one and running with it on the basis that 'we have a source so that's the end of that'). If you've had a change of approach then I welcome it. If it is a "change" only sympathetic to perusing your preferred choice of word then I would encourage you to broaden your sensetivities to achieve an appropriate teatment of the topic. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 12:30, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
I agree with RA that a footnote is needed, otherwise this issue of country-versus-province will never be resolved.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 12:39, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Look guys, the lede is meant to summarise the main article. By including a section on the naming issue which makes the issue clear in the main body we satisfy the need. This is 101 Wikipedia. RA I have now offered two compromises, both of which handle your objections in different ways and both of which follow WIkipedia policy and try not to make assumptions about other editors motivations --Snowded TALK 12:48, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict)If this was not a WP article, you could have an asterisk beside country that would point to a separate section of prose in which the problematic description could be given full detail. The very long footnote proposed way up above somewhere is awkward and I agree with Off2riorob MickMacNee above in that regard. Is there any other method allowed in WP:MOS that will allow a reference from the word “country”, for example “(see section xyz below)” which would allow the fully described issues to be referenced from the lead, at the same time as allowing the material to be incorporated into the body rather than a footnote? This would also satisfy the requirement for the lead to reflect the whole article, whereas a footnote of any length doesn’t accomplish that (IMO). Leaky Caldron 12:51, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Amusingly, perhaps, the article WP:Footnotes itself contains an explanatory footnote in the first paragraph. Can someone point to the guidance that says it is to be avoided? - but even if it is, I think it would be justified in this case. Ghmyrtle (talk) 13:14, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
WP:FOOTNOTE does not mention the lead, and WP:LEAD does not mention footnotes. However, I believe the question of footnote references often comes up at FA discussions when an editor insists that a lead sentence/paragraph be referenced and is explained by the others that this is not necessary since the lead only summarises the body, where the reference is located. Hans Adler 13:25, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
But the problem in this case relates to the subtle nuances of meaning in the words which need to be used, and the need - stylistically - to avoid lengthy explanations of the wording in the text of the intro para (I refuse to say "lede"!) itself. Is there a forum somewhere where this point can be raised, if people are concerned about the FA-worthiness of the article (not something that concerns me much, personally)? Ghmyrtle (talk) 13:38, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps you want to try WP:Content_noticeboard. Hans Adler 13:51, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Seems a bit general. How about Wikipedia talk:Writing better articles? I won't post anything anywhere unless there is some agreement here that it would be useful to do so. Ghmyrtle (talk) 14:04, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
@Leaky Caldron - This is Wikipedia and you can. What do you expect a section below to say? WOuld it conlcuded that Northern Ireland is a country that we would "summarise" it in the lede? Or that "country" is the most netural word? That is hardly supported by the sources we have seen to date support (in fact many flatly refuted it). A note on the other hand can simply explain our choice of word and advice that there is no consensus over "what Northern Ireland is" in the body of knowledge and that any choice is likely to be an issue.
I'm not, by the way, insisting that we stick to the letter of the one proposed above. Merely that a footnote that would sufficiently do the same thing: advise the reader that whatever we choose (or don't choose) is not definitive answer and our choice should not be taken as such. We can of course at the same time point them dattaway to a section below.
Otherwise we are just picking a word out of a hat (at best) and presenting it as the conclusion to the matter. That does not reflect knowledge on the topic.
@Snowded - re: assumptions regarding the motivations of other editors, that's always sound advise. It's a pleasure whenever I hear another editor repeat it to themselves :) --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 13:29, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
RA if its sound advise follow it rather than perpetuating the error with innuendo. --Snowded TALK 15:00, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Snowded, over the past few weeks, I have at every possible opportunity expressed faith in your motivations with respect to this argument. When others suggested otherwise or when they wondered aloud, I stepped up to set the record straight on your belhalf.
Now, above, you dismissed one term (a very common one) because it may offend the sensibilities of some. At the same time you adovocate another (one that's relatively rare) despite it offending the sensibilities of many. There is a contradiction between your approach to these two terms. This is a criticism of your argument, not of you.
So please, brother, have faith. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 16:15, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Umm. I wonder what it will be like when you don't express faith in my motivations. :-) I may go through the history and point to some examples on that one. But will post to your talk page when I have time. --Snowded TALK 16:20, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
There's only a short sea between us. If I didn't have faith in you, you'd hear it before you read it :-) Don't waste your time going through the history, you'd only be picking the bad from the good. Take my word for it instead. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 19:10, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
The way Snowded travels around the world, there's usually several oceans between him and the rest of us, I think..... Ghmyrtle (talk) 13:30, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

A third way

How about combining my first compromise with the second, namely use the "one of four countries" wording, but add the extra sentence per the first proposal with Jeneane's variation? --Snowded TALK 15:00, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Don't suppose you fancy drafting that here for all to see S.? Trying to assemble it from various places in this saga is a bit dificult! Leaky Caldron 15:15, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

OK here you are, I have shorted it a bit to make it fit a balanced lede(although its over referenced)--Snowded TALK 16:15, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann, Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom.[5][6] and is situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. It shares a border with the Ireland to the south and west. At the time of the 2001 UK Census, its population was 1,685,000, constituting between a quarter and a third of the island's total population and about 3% of the population of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland has no history as a distinct country prior to 1921 and is also referred to as a province[7] or region,[8]. Use of "country" can be controversial[9] with the choice of words often revealing political preferences.[10]

And why can we not just bang it in a footnote? Why do we have to belt our readers over the head with every "controversey" we (as editors) come across. We write for readers, not for editors. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 16:18, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Are you saying you would be happy with the last sentence above as a footnote? --Snowded TALK 16:24, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
I would swap the last two sentences around, and put them both in a footnote. Otherwise, agree. And just to confirm, this is for NI only and doesn't necessitate a change at ENG/SCO/WAL? Stu ’Bout ye! 16:41, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Agree with Stu. Ghmyrtle (talk) 16:50, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

On an unrelated detail here, can we not say "..about 30%.." rather than "..between a quarter and a third.." Ghmyrtle (talk) 16:48, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

I think so, yes. The current wording makes it sound like nobody knows how many people live here while we actually have 2 very accurate censuses/estimates to work from. I doubt there is a lost tribe on the Leitrim/Fermanagh border that would skew the results ;-) Fribbler (talk) 17:58, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
The closer you get the Leitrim the stranger things can get. The laws of man barely pervade there, we should not assume the law of physics do either. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 19:05, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Whilst i do not see a need for change, in the interests of getting consensus and putting this issue to bed i will drop my opposition to changing the first sentence to "Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom." No problem with the two sentences mentioned being swapped around and put in a footnote as suggested by Stu above. BritishWatcher (talk) 18:47, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Sounds about right. No problem in principle - except that we should link all of "is one of four countries of the United Kingdom...", per MOS at least but also because it would put the context of NI's "country-ness" where the emphasised should be. (I think it "cheating" a little to link only "country" after all we have discussed).
Obviously we will have to mess around with the footnote (but that can be left to a editing-as-normal). I propose the following as a starting point (maybe a bit long still):
Northern Ireland is also commonly referred to as being a province or a region (of both the United Kingdom and of the island of Ireland). Describing Northern Ireland as a "country" is controversial but, in common with the other constituent parts of the United Kingdom, it is frequently referred to such within the context of the UK. There is no agreement in practice over what to call Northern Ireland, with the choice of words often revealing political preferences.
It could appear in a separate Notes section and the current section renamed to References. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 19:05, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

As BritishWatcher previously said if people are happy with "One of the four countries of the United Kingdom", then you are accepting Northern Ireland is a country. If country is not NPOV then these alternative ways of saying country are not either. If describing Northern Ireland as a "country" is controversial then that must guide the phrasing of the lead, not simply facilitating a POV in the lead with this stuck into a footnote, (which most people don't read). --Ardmacha (talk) 19:20, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

There was a good suggestion (to my mind) from Peterkingiron above: "...one of the four countries or constituent parts of the UK". --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 20:03, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

There is nothing new here, this is still a collection of badly worded sentences in a lede, not supported by the the main text, and unwisely and unconventionally 'referenced' by stuffing a synthesis of a literature review into an absolute massive and practically unreadable footnote. Do I really have to point out how utterly weak the actual 'examples' are if they are supposedly supporting the idea that the word country is 'controversial' - only two even support the idea that there is a controversy (one from 2000, the other from 1979!), the rest are simply statements that NI is not a country (and it is clearly problematic giving them any weight over and above the primary sources), while other problems with this review are that it lumps obvious primary opinions with others which (apparently/supposedly) could be considered overviews with sufficient distance to meet NPOV, and bizarrly it mixes up contemporary opinions with sources dating to a time long ago when even the UK didn't consider NI as a country. People need to get real, and stop trying to imply in the lede that somehow Unionists/Republicans would suddenly be happy if a better word than 'country' was found, you cannot divorce this issue from the whole Troubles, so to start having such cliams in the lede that 'country' is controversial is just a bogus over-simplification, and I remain dumbfounded that such a fuss is being made over the word country that really absolutely must be footnoted, while ignoring other obvious disputes, most importantly, the existence of, and even name of, the place itself. And as an aside to some of the comments above, IAR is absolutely not something that can even remotely be cited here - there is nothing here that cannot be dealt with by normal editting - get whatever you want included in the main text, and if it is shown it is not synthesis or POV or improperly mixes different types of evidence as this foonote does, then we can come back to deciding what goes in the lede as a summary. This putting the cart before the horse approach is totally wrong, and if it gets passed on a 'compromise' basis so people can go away and ignore the article again, thinking they have satisfied NPOV, or even done something that meets normal editting practice, it will be a travesty. MickMacNee (talk) 19:51, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

The footnote has changed but I agree regarding "controversial". There is no "controversy" (that's something said by other on this page). Sources simply and frankly state that "country" is an inappropriate term for Northern Ireland and say that Northern Ireland is "not a country". They also explain why. The "primary source", actually a secondary source, you refer to (I presume you mean the UK government) far more commonly use other terms when speaking about Northern Ireland specifically. The Northern Ireland Executive (apparantly) never use the word "country".
I recall asking if you had any counter references that discuss what to call Northern Ireland (as opposed to just picking a word and going with it). I had hoped you could find some that concluded that "country" is an appropriate term for Northern Ireland, but I see you don't cite any above. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 20:03, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
The UK govt in the case of what NI is, is a primary source, and that primary opinion is already sufficiently cited in the article from two highly relevent sources, without resorting to original research on what they apparently do or don't do elsewhere. MickMacNee (talk) 21:04, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
If only. The trump card in the pack appears to be a website of the office of the prime minister of the government of the United Kingdom. What's more it describes Northern Ireland thusly: "Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom..." It does say that the UK is made up of four "countries", one of which being Northern Ireland. Other secondary sources say this also but point out that the term "country" is not quite correct in relation to Northern Ireland. Other sources again say that the UK is made up of three countries and one province. Which puts us back as square one on that one. (See above for citations for all of these sources.)
A primary source in this case might be legislation defining Northern Ireland as a country. Which doesn't exists. Even if it did, however, we would still base our article on reliable secondary sources. We don't, for example, say that the territory of the Republic of Ireland was conterminous to the island of Ireland from 1937-99 simply because that is what primary sources said. That would be silly wouldn't it? After all secondary sources say otherwise.
It's similar in this case. Secondary sources say that Northern Ireland is not a country. The question of what it is, according to sources, does not have a simple answer. Let's not pretend it does out of ignorance, convenience, desire or (whatever) motivation. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 22:06, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Firstly, you have seriously misunderstood the definition of a primary source. And secondly, where have I ever pretended the question had a simple answer? I am hardly disputing the fact it is not universally called a country in secondary sources, but the primary source view is not even in doubt as far as I am concerned. However, I am first and foremost questioning your utterly non-standard use of footnotes to handle the issue in the article, and I am only secondarily concerned about the quality and relevance of the sources you have picked to represent the overall view of all secondary sources, if you must insist on having both conversations simultaneously. MickMacNee (talk) 23:16, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
The NI assembly and its agencies are prime source of what the people of NI believe in this matter, and they do not use the word country. Indeed there is evidence that they have ceased to use this terminology, one poster in previous discussion on the subject suggested that the main page of the Public Record Office of NI (PRONI) identified NI as country, but this is not now the case. But as it is easy to cite something than show the absence of it this evidence is disregarded. The people of NI have decided not to use one or other controversial identifier for NI, but it seems that a handful of editors on Wikipedia know better. The word country has an important meaning in Wikipedia, it is not a casual term. A country is not an ephemeral thing, it has lasting substance. It is not created by a press release in 2003 from the Downing Street website, a press release not accompanied by legislation, debate in parliament or any apparent involvement of NI leaders. The idea that some references predate NI becoming a country is risible. If the next UK government decides to replace the country reference with component parts or something else does that make Scotland not a country? No, Scotland's claim to be a country is a long term one, not based on press releases on websites. I suggest one of the four constituent parts of the UK which can link to countries of the UK which can in turn point out the the term countries is used in aggregate although many people consider NI not to be a country. --Ardmacha (talk) 23:07, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm not going back on the support I've already given, but we need to be careful about the selective use of sources. For example, it took 30 seconds to find this recent, reliable source for Country. [20] Leaky Caldron 23:16, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't think anyone denies that the term is occasionally used. It's the weight attached to the relatively few sourced that do. It's the little (no?) attention paid to the sources that say it is inappropriate. It's the insistence that no other term will do. (And it's the wonder at the need for any term at all.)
I wouldn't go running over to change Scotland, for example, just because a headline in a newspaper calls it a "region" (even one that quotes the EU) or insist that Wales is a principality because a newspaper says so. It wouldn't demonstrate the best understanding of either topic on my part, would it?
Why the rush to jam "country" into Northern Ireland, I don't know, but it doesn't demonstrate the best understanding of the topic. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 23:45, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Since there seemed to be broad agreement (MickMacNee and Ardmacha objections excepted), I added text as above. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 01:24, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

A reference to this Northern_Ireland_(European_Parliament_constituency) needs to be included somewhere in the article. Given the increasing prominance of the EU I hink it might be appropriate for the lead. Leaky Caldron 09:12, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

I amended the new lead sentence of the lead paragraph; it did not scan well and refs (per WP:MOS) should be placed after punctuation. Re the footnote: the lead should be a summary of information contained in the main article text. We should ensure the point is covered adequately there, so that the footnote can be removed and the information added to the summary. Daicaregos (talk) 13:05, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Although I'm not going to revert without further discussion, I think use of the word "occupying" is unfortunate and unnecessary here, to say the least, in whatever context. And re the footnote - I thought the point made above, and generally agreed, was that a footnote would be better than a sentence in the "lede" simply because the complexities were not capable of being summarised succinctly, and therefore would unbalance the text if they were explained in the main text of this section. But certainly the point should be covered later on, in the main text of the article, as well. Ghmyrtle (talk) 13:22, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
I have replaced occupied with situated per the original consensus. Leaky Caldron 13:31, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Situated is a better option, given the other potential interpretations of "occupied"! On a general note, while it's unfortunate that the solution didn't suit all editors, finding a solution that suits most is a rare thing on Irish articles these days. So a big pat on the back for all involved. Stu ’Bout ye! 13:51, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Ah, yes. Quite so. With hindsight, I concede there are few more inappropriate words. Sorry everyone. It reads much better now, though. Back to the footnote: if we must have one, and I still don't believe we should, can it at least be moved to the end of the sentence - after the full stop? Daicaregos (talk) 14:35, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
The wording seems pretty good now in the lead paragraph, but I wasn't too sure about the footnote. I don't know what the form is on footnotes, is there a need to cite what has been added by way of a footnote? Alastairward (talk) 15:19, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Revert

There is no broad agreement here on anything, certainly not the use of footnotes. I have reverted. MickMacNee (talk) 15:29, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Disagree Mick, there is definitely consensus on the wording in the lead. The use/form of a footnote is generally agreed, but can be fine tuned as required. Stu ’Bout ye! 15:46, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Where are you seeing general agreement for the use of a totally unreferenced and non-standard footnote that makes various claims not represented anywhere in the article? Sorry, but this is absolutely not a situation where a couple of people on one relatively quiet article talk page can start re-writing the fundemental rules on how articles are written and referenced, which represent the consensus of literally thousands of people. MickMacNee (talk) 16:02, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Mick, is there any legitimate reference out of the lead sentence that would satisfy you concerns about the footnote? I would prefer the footnote material to be instead incorporated into the article - provided it is all supported by WP:RS, of course. I can see the need to out-reference the stuff in the proposed footnote to avoid clutter in the lead. Would "(see section xyz below)" be acceptable or are you implacably opposed to anything like this? There does seem to be a reasonable consensus to make some change in the lead relating to country. What would be acceptable to you? Leaky Caldron 16:21, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
(ec) Mick, You didn't just remove the footnote, you also reverted the first lead sentence itself back from the new consensus version to the "long standing" version ("country that is a part") that had sneaked into the article undiscussed and replaced the previous consensus version ("constituent country"). That's not what I expected to see based on your edit summaries. I have reverted to the current consensus, but without the footnote.
I agree that we can't make unsourced claims in a footnote that don't appear later on in the article with a source. So let's start with discussing the "country" problem in the article body. Once we have done that, we can still discuss whether to use a footnote or not. As I explained above, the MOS says nothing about footnotes in the lead; we are free to use one if it makes sense, but of course it would be better if we can do without one. Hans Adler 16:29, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
(rp to LC) Take a look at how the complexities of citizenhip and identity is referred to in the lede - if and when anybody improves the article with some main text on the issue, and it survives impartial review for NPOV, then I would not be averse to that style of # linking to a header in the main article. Using spanid, it doesn't even need to link to a header, it can link to the start of a paragraph. MickMacNee (talk) 16:31, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Mick -
  • First of all, all rules are "up for debate". That is policy. It always has been. It is one of the five pillars of Wikipedia.
  • Secondly, where does the MOS prevent footnotes? Please review the the manual of style for footnotes and indicate where you think is says so.
  • Thirdly, with regards to your objection that the footnote is "totally unreferenced", I recall you objecting to a referenced version also. We can of course add references and extended quotations to the footnote (not necessarily as a part of the note but referencing the statements made in it as normal).
Thus far all it looks like we got from this discussion is confirmation that there is none and never has been any consensus to describe Northern Ireland as a "country". The idea that there "must be consistency" has been shown to be a myth (one that has been ridiculed on other article talk pages). And we have a heap load of references flatly refuting that Northern Ireland is "country", explaining why and/or defining it as something else.
I think, Mick, you're right to point to the example of how identity is handled in the lede. It is very neutral in contrast to bombastic declarations that Northern Ireland is definitively one thing or another (despite a wealth of secondary sources that would inform us otherwise). I think it's sad that we have to go through the usual Wikipedia rigamarole of putting readers through the torture of reading our (editors) "controversies" but it looks like it will be necessary to have a new section that discusses "what Northern Ireland is". The lede can then reflect the summary of that section. Most here, I assume, can recognize that it is highly unlikely that a summary of that section will conclude that Northern Ireland is definitively anything. With respect specifically to "country", we all know the number and range of references that refute claims of that sort, even as a part of the UK.
In the mean time, we can change the lede to the neutral (if bland) "is a part of the UK" or "is a constituent part of the UK". Pity, I thought we had the bones of something positive. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 17:49, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Get your arguments straight please. You cannot confuse objections to foonotes with objections to content, you cannot pretend your bizarre ideas about IAR and the MOS regarding the proper and appropriate use of footnotes have not been answered already, and you cannot simply claim anybody or everybody has disputed any of the core issues here, as if nobody has read a word you have said or any of the references presented. Frankly, you need to knock this 'ah well, I tried' crap off, and stop talking to everybody as if they have never written an article or read a policy before. MickMacNee (talk) 18:23, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Sure. A link to the relevant section of the MOS will do. For example the MOS on use of footnotes is pretty clear. Their first purpose is "to add explanatory material, particularly if the added information would be distracting if written out in the main article." That's how we used one here. IAR is fairly straight forward as well; as are the 5Ps. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 18:45, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
You will never in a million years get a consensus that the information you want to footnote is of casual importance to the article that is not worthy of distracting the reader over by having it written out in plain English - that is the difference between being able to copy & paste policy wordings, and actually understanding why they were written in the first place. Your misunderstanding of this was clear when you tried and failed to provide equivalent examples of such footnotes in some FAs, picking some obviously not equivalent examples. The foonote used here would never have passed FAR in a million years. IAR is fairly straightforward as you say, and once again, you would never in a million years get consensus over your explanation that there is apparently no other editorial policy compliant way of presenting this information to the reader, and you absolutely had to invoke IAR and start inventing novel approaches for this one situation. Anyone would think by your commnets that NI was the only disputed territory in the world, and this situation has never arisen on the pedia before. MickMacNee (talk) 19:34, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
The way forward is clear. The footnote material needs to be developed into a section or paragraph, with properly cited sources, and linked from the lead as suggested above. What are the objections to that approach rather than using the disputed footnote? Leaky Caldron 19:46, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Added one.
Mick, we don't need to beat readers over the head with our (editors) "controversies". A footnote can flag a word or statement as having a particular issue associated with it but without allowing that issue to dominate the context in which it appears. There a specific section dealing now, the note can point to that. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 21:31, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Constituent Countries

To advise other editors - the discussion above has also been moved to Constituent Country with similar material --Snowded TALK 11:20, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

No need to panic. No discussion has moved. But there is (may be?) a related on at that location. I have also opened a discussion here that anyone watching the one above may want to contribute to. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 11:35, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
Who is panicking? Just notifying people that the discussion was also on 'Constituent Countries and has also been opened on Countries of the United Kingdom. How many more pages are you going to open up RA? --Snowded TALK 11:38, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

Aspirant sovereign states

An issue has arisen at Talk:Aspirant sovereign states#Northern Ireland on which editors might like to comment. Ghmyrtle (talk) 09:37, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

The new Introduction

I think this needs a new section now - its going in crazy directions. Matt Lewis (talk) 13:30, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Misusing the word 'controversial', and using "Note1" in the first line

When a Newsnight presenter uses the simple phrase "..is controversial." it is because something is WIDELY HELD to be a controversial matter across a reasonably broad 'spectrum' of society - ie, wider than those who share a particular political viewpoint. In the case of this kind of use, a qualifier is used at very least - ie, "can be seen as controversial by...". Better still is using more descriptive language.

Also - "Note1"? How long will that last? It is a political stunt in my eyes at least. What is so special about NI that things cannot be done properly? The way politics moulds this introduction is particularly sad, because nobody wants to get involved and put anything positive in it. With a positive third paragraph, the last parag on identity could easily add information on 'province' and 'region'. It SHOULD do, and should in doing so it should be summerising a section on identity in the article. Matt Lewis (talk) 13:30, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

This effect the whole UK - I don't want to see this kind of thing elsewhere, and I'm not comfortable with it here. Matt Lewis (talk) 13:30, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Why not make a suggestion then? Alastairward (talk) 16:14, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
I've never been an editor who's had an interest in editing other countries pages as part of my general editing - I've always got drawn into it because it keeps spilling over into subjects I'm contributing to. I'd have to really research NI to create a worthy edit, but I don't have the kind on time I did for editing (though I'm tempted just as an act of pure kindness to poor bastards - I mean really - who deserves an intro a miserable as this one?).
I do know this about NI though, at least: the idea of it becoming a fully independent country has been argued as one of the ways that it could put its sectarian past behind it (it will still be called 'Northern Ireland' after all - offering both continuity and a link to the 'island nation' desire). It is quite revealing to me that so many editors have said that this idea is totally unheard of in NI, and some kind of impossibility. Sociologically they are finding a new generation of people who would rather identify with NI as their country, and to various degrees be neither British nor Irish. And bloody hell - who can blame them? It was always going to happen, to some degree at least. I personally don't want to see the UK split up - but if one of the proposals could potentially be a positive thing rather than a disastrous one - an independent NI could actually be it. And unlike other UK countries, NI would actually get enough funding from the UK/IRE/US and EU to make sure it really works. People here may not like the idea - but they shouldn't be completely blind to it (and certainly not supress it). Matt Lewis (talk) 21:35, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
I've never heard of this before, people wanting an independant Northern Ireland, oh well. GoodDay (talk) 21:43, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
In 1973, Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party headed by William Craig wanted a separate Ulster, with minimum ties to the UK, in point of fact, they were very hostile to the British. Sarah Nelson discusses the Vanguard movement at length in her 1986 book, Ulster's Uncertain Defenders.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 08:28, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Not unheard of, Matt, just a very marginal opinion. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 22:30, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Matt, it sounds more like your concerns aren't really regarding the article though, do you have anything you'd like to change here? Alastairward (talk) 22:03, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Previous message moved to User talk:Matt Lewis --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 22:34, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Regarding the footnote and new section

I welcome the new section approach. Navigationally, the “a” footnote is a bit of a fiddle for the reader. Can we not go straight to the section from the “a”? Leaky Caldron 09:11, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Incidentally, I simply lifted and dropped this into this article based on Wales. “It is also an elective region of the European Union.” Same words and similar place. I also put it into Scotland I was immediately bitten by the Scottish cabal who resented it and my involvement in their article. This also demonstrates what S. noted above, which is that they are not concerned about cross-article consistency in the lead.
We should rephrase the description from “elective region” if a more suitable description for the EU Constituency can be agreed. Leaky Caldron 09:19, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
It would be technically possible to link directly to the section below but there are two problem with it that I can see.
The first, from a usability perspective, is that there is would be no indication to the user as to why they suddenly just jumped half way down the article and no way (in content) of getting back up. The footnote acts as a mediatory point, explaining what is going to happen and why, giving the user the choice of going forward and providing a back link to get back up.
The second relates to redistribution of Wikipeida content. A direct link down doesn't work in print, whereas a footenote doesn't lose any meaning.
Regarding the Scotland article: horses for courses. The Netherlands is also a European Parliament constituency but that isn't mentioned in the lede to the Netherlands article. Each topic has to be treated in a manner appropriate to itself. What works on one might not work on another. That is seperate from the plain question of whether a statement is factural correct or not. I think it does work on this article. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 10:00, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. I understand the issues now. Either way, I think the call-out to the new section is good and seems to have backing. Ideally that EU info. should be in the Country info. box. It should be included in the political section of any article I would have thought - given the significance (like it or not) of the EU. Leaky Caldron 10:07, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
I've reverted this 'a' business and incorporated the link in the lede as a section link [21]. There is no need for a footnote to denote the issue. If #section linking is good enough for citizenship and identity, it is good enough for the issue of name and description issue. Wikipedia is an online encyclopoedia whose content is in constant flux, considerations for printed copy usage are utterly secondary, and would still beg the question as to why, out of every single thing about NI in the lede that has a complex explanation, it is only the word 'country' that needs this format of highlighting. And incidentally, the use of ABC #ref tags is depreciated by the use of 'notes' labels or ref citation numbers anyway. MickMacNee (talk) 11:59, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
RA (and others involved) the new arrangement looks good, I think it should work well. I had thought when what seemed at first to be two reasonably entrenched sides in the discussion had presented so many for and against points for having NI described as a country or not, that we could very well make a new section out of it all. Alastairward (talk) 12:12, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Mick, I thought you had agreed to some sort of # linking from the lead? Leaky Caldron 12:16, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Which is what now exists - look at the diff above. MickMacNee (talk) 12:47, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Mick, I don't know where you get the idea that note/ref templates are "depricated". That is certainly not as they are described in the the advanced section on the MOS for footnotes. If we use ref tags to add notes then we end up with the "note" or "nb" phrase that was objectionable before. See the MOS for details.
Adding this information to a later section the lede is inappropriate and clumsey. It's like introducing the article with a definitive statement about identity in Northern Ireland and then ending the intro with a para that says, "Well, actually it's complicated and there is nothing definitive." If the first statement is not defnitive then we either need to temper it or flag it as such with a footnote. We can't just say something definitive then two paragraphs later contracdict ourselves. If you don't want the footnote then that definitive statment will need to be toned down.
I also don't see the point in your giving "due prominance" to the UK stats office or the Office of the PM. A page from the UK stats office website in no way more authoritive than plenty of books that say otherwise - particularly the ones that explain why. There is no defintive answer to the question. Rearranging sentences to have one appear with "due prominance" is just plain silly. Not least because, we can also add how the UK stats office officially define Northern Ireland as a region. How the NI stats office describe it as a "province". How the Office of the PM calls NI both a province and a region. How the page of the website that you refer to actually defines Northern Ireland as being a "part of" the United Kingdom. Picking one or two source that you like and saying that that they are the one that sould be given "due prominance" is silly and easily contradicted. It's what got us into this mess in the first place.
About the idea that Wikipedia is an "online" encyclopedia or a website, see the Foundation mission statement. We are developing content "to disseminate it effectively and globally" under a free license. We are not writing a website. This website is only one of the many ways in which our readers come to our content. When we write content we need to think as much about the child in the African village working from print outs held together in a binder as much as our readers who read our conent via this website. The text of an article needs to stand on it's own without hypertext links. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 13:13, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Look, here are the basic facts: the UK is the only definitive authority for the official view of what NI is. Or have you got some other idea of who is officially allowed to say what NI is?. You may not like that, you may not accept that, but it is true. In a section dealing with the desciption of NI, that official view quite obviously deserves prominence over secondary sources from different times and different people that frankly have absolutely no role in officially declaring anything (can you imagine a UN delegate for example saying to the UK representative, 'well, I heard in my encyclopoedia of policitcal geography that....). Come off it. Their view is analysis and commentary only. No other article would give such prominece to such unofficial secondary opinions as to mess around with footnotes in the lede line. In terms of an official level of 'complicatedness', the issue of citizenship is actually far more relevant, and nobody has yet gone to the lengths you are going to insist it should be given more prominence in the lede. Or are you going to bizarrely argue that any uninitiated reader is somehow going to simply know the dual nature from the first paragraph of the lede, and thus wont similarly be confronted by your wierd logic bomb issue of apparent contradictions across four paragraphs? As for disputing whether two concrete sources from stats.uk and number10 are good enough to determine the official view in light of whatever other uses you might be able to find through a bit of google whackery of other govt departments, that really is the true example of cherry picking sources to come up with some synthesised conclusion to debunk basic sourced facts. You can add whatever you like regarding official use of region or province, as long as you make it absolutely clear in what context the wording has been used, as per the current sources backing up the indisputable fact that the UK govt regards NI as one of the four countries of the UK. If they are not as definitive and prominent as those examples, then frankly you are just fishing. MickMacNee (talk) 14:04, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Just to note that the UK Statistics Authority is "...an independent body operating at arm's length from government.." [22] Ghmyrtle (talk) 14:12, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
As a Non-ministerial government department. MickMacNee (talk) 14:23, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

(Outdent) It has been noted several times in these discussions that as well as describing E/NI/S/W as countries, the No 10 website goes on to say "Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom with a devolved legislative Assembly and ... ". This statement has been used to suggest that the website provides an alternative definition (to country) for NI. However, looking at the descriptions for England, Scotland and Wales, they also begin "(E/S/W) ... is a part of the United Kingdom ... ". This shows that the statement is being used to describe which entities make up the UK, not what those entites are, and descriptions for the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands (i.e. that they are not part of the UK) confirm this. Cheers, Daicaregos (talk) 14:42, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Actually, although it says "..a part of..." in relation to NI, for Scotland and Wales it says they are "..part of...", without the "..a..", and for England it uses neither form of words. As to the significance, if any, of that subtle distinction, we can only guess. Ghmyrtle (talk) 15:09, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Nevertheless, we can safely say that "... not part of the UK" is not the UK's definition of either the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands. Therefore, it doesn't stretch the imagination too much to say that the phrase "part of" is not the UK's definition of Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales either. Daicaregos (talk) 15:39, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

I expanded the section on terms used by the UK government. It still comes before discussion of specific terms in other secondary sources but I have moved the intro paragraph for the section page up to the top (its short and summary). --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 00:03, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

It is frankly a mess tbh. If that is meant to be an intro paragraph to the section, it should frankly not exist at all it is so flawed, the rest of the content should stand alone and speak for itself. Who, for example, is this mysterious universal arbiter who is supposed to declare that, yes, we have all decided that 'this is the term we shall use to describe NI?', for that is the implication with your text that "There is no generally accepted term to describe what Northern Ireland is", a rather matter of fact statement supported by just three books. What, for example, do they say about Kosovo, or Western Sahara, or Northern Cyprus? Infact, who appointed them arbiters of universal definitions of the word 'country' at all? Elsewhere on this page you just pulled out a dictionary definition that means Scotland isn't even a country. Where is your evidence that this collection of sources is in any way a reasoned and balanced, let alone respected, opinion on the issue? Never mind the fact that one source is from 1979, one from 1991, and one from 2000. How come you present all of this information in the present tense, as if it is all totally contemporary?. As for the other govt examples being used to frankly dilute what is probably the most official and most obvious declaration out there that NI is one of the four countries of the UK, unlike the two references supporting that, you make absolutely no indication as to how these other terms occur, whether it is in casual usage or as a specific statement that 'NI is...' or 'NI is not...'. And what is all this 'legally defined' business? Would that be the same legal definition that applies to England, Scotland and Wales? I know you know the status of the UK's constitution, so that's frankly garbage if it is being used to differentiate NI from the other three. And since when did the Department of Finance start being the top level source for what NI is? "There is also no uniform or guiding way to refer to Northern Ireland amongst the agencies of the UK government. For example...." - that is a 100% synthesised conclusion. MickMacNee (talk) 00:31, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
It sounds as if one UK govt website says one thing you like, it's "the truth", whereas if another says something else (or even a different page on the same website!), it's "garbage"?
I don't know what you mean about Scotland or what this article has to do with that topic. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 00:43, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
No, it sounds like I know for those two sources, exactly who, and in exactly what context, the UK govt described what NI is, because that part of the section at least, is written and referenced correctly (and before you started wierdly removing wikilinks from everything, was even better). You don't know what Scotland has to do with this? Why don't you read the section, you wrote it so you should know, Scotland is mentioned a few times. I want to know for example, since the general issue has been dressed up in the whole section as a comparison between NI and the other countries of the UK, where would I find the 'uniform or guiding way' to refer to Scotland, or what 'legally defined term' this presumably stems from, that would be so radically different as the sources in here for the UK view of what NI is. MickMacNee (talk) 01:16, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Regarding the EU "constituency": In case someone wants a better wording, I would suggest "It is one of the electoral regions for the European Parliament". The word "elective" as far as I know means voluntary, discretionary.
Incidentally, and way off my patch here, [23] gives a different spelling of Norlin Airlann. Sussexonian (talk) 21:41, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Definition of country

Oxford Dictionary defines country as a region or state, hence NI qualifies on those grounds to be correctly described as a country in the lead.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 14:15, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

That's the problem with the definition: it's so vague. "Region" could be anything, and state isn't much better. Seems it's just a matter of usage. Reminds me of the saying: "A language is a dialect with an army and navy" :-) - Fribbler (talk) 14:28, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I was disappointed that Oxford didn't expand the first definition given for country beyond region or state, however that's what's written down.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 14:34, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Country is a hard thing to define. Independent states are easy, but other "countries" are difficult. Most people would say England and Scotland are countries, having been independent states in the past, the same went for Ukraine and the Baltic states in the Soviet era. However, Texas was an independent state, as was Sicily, and Venice; yet we don't call them countries. A nice, tidy definition would be great, but I don't think the OED can save us from the reality that the concept of "country" is pretty nebulous. Fribbler (talk) 14:42, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
It depends which version of the dictionary you use. My Shorter OED (won in 1972!!) says: "1. An expanse of land; a region, district. 2. A tract or district having limits in relation to human occupation... 3. The territory or land of a nation. 4. The land of a person's birth, citizenship, residence, etc. 5. The rural districts as distinct from the town or towns... 6. The people of a district or state; the nation ...." etc. (There are others, going to up to 11 definitions.) The relevant point is that the word has multiple meanings. Ghmyrtle (talk) 14:54, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
I believe Texas and Venice were called republics never countries, whereas Sicily was part of various kingdoms and/or empires, and in ancient times it was known as Magna Grecia. It is officially a region of Italy; however, it does have some autonomy. There are local politicians here who are seeking even more.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 14:49, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Thats what I mean; we didn't/don't call them countries but they fit the definition. So it seems that all countries are regions/states, but not all regions/states are countries. Fribbler (talk) 14:58, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
It does? I wouldn't go changing Lake District or Golden Vale just yet. It's easy to make 2+2=5. Let's just stick with the sources. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 17:39, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Introduction

If it is one of the 'Four Countries of the UK',why is it considered by the monarchy and Parliament of the United Kingdom,the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland"?It would be more correct to say it is an autonomous region within the United Kingdom,that is seperate from Great Britain which is comprised of England,Wales and Scotland?Sheodred (talk) 15:52, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Because it does not actually have more autonomy than Scotland, for example. The naming does not reflect the status of the constituent countries, it merely reflects the geographic makeup of the country, and reflects its naming history: i.e. United Kingdom of Great Britain -> United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland -> United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. DJ Clayworth (talk) 16:03, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
It's not separate from Great Britain. It's in union with Great Britain. Hence United Kingdom. It's a single kingdom. Mooretwin (talk) 16:53, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Great Britain is an island. So it is separate per se. The UK is a single kingdom, yes. Anyhow as regards the intro; as my mother used to say "Don't pick at it, you'll only make it worse". Fribbler (talk) 16:57, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't think he/she meant geographically separate. Mooretwin (talk) 17:03, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps not, it's hard to tell. Fribbler (talk) 17:07, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Or as they say in the US military: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 17:05, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Or "Don't ask, don't tell" ;) Fribbler (talk) 17:07, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Best to leave it alone. GoodDay (talk) 17:07, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
I like that philiosophy Fribbler. One shouldn't tell anybody anything they wouldn't want their worst enemy to find out.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 17:09, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Electoral region of the European Union in the intro

I have removed the electoral region of the European Union from the intro because: (1) It is completely irrelevant to the intro of the article, it could be put somewhere else in the article such as the Politics section. (2) It confuses readers into thinking Northern Ireland is party to the EU, which it isn't, it's a part of the UK, which is a member of the EU. (3) Other electoral regions don't have such irrelevant information in the intro of their articles. (4) Regardless of what the editor who recently added the information to the intro says they never got consensus for its inclusion because I've checked this Talk page. Bambuway (talk) 23:35, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

I've added the information to the relevant section and it's now in the Politics section where such information belongs and is relevant. The intro should be reserved only for the main description of the country. Bambuway (talk) 23:37, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

I agree with (1), I don't agree with (2), (4) is incorrect, and as for (3) ... well, not currently anyway. Where you've put it, I think, is fine. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 23:47, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Get your facts straight. I don't need permission to add material. It was there for 2 weeks and specialist article editors vastly more experienced than you didn't query it - defacto approval IMO, especially given the attention the lead was receiving at the time where every word was being poured over. That it confused you I'm afraid, says more about you than the content, which was simple and straightforward and copied directly from the Wales article where it had been for some time (not put there by me) - disproving your (3) point. I see you've removed it from there without discussion too.
I'm happy with where it is now but perhaps you should learn the courtesy of responding to a fellow editor who placed a question on your own talk page TWICE which you simply ignored and pressed your revert button. Leaky Caldron 23:48, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
The fact that NI is used as a constituency in the EU does no where near warrant a mention in the lead, a simple sentence int eh politics section is sufficient.--Barryob (Contribs) (Talk) 05:01, 25 November 2009 (UTC)si

Border

it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west. And north 86.40.215.245 (talk) 05:19, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

This can be said of every country with a border that isn't an exact straight line. We are just giving a general description, not a precise topographical one. DJ Clayworth (talk) 14:10, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
Aye, and if you live in Fermanagh the border is to the north, south, east and west. "South and west" is fine. It gives a picture of where Northern Ireland is on the island and where the South is in relation to it. --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 23:59, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
    • ^ "Use of the term constituent country is sometimes regarded as inappropriate when applied to Northern Ireland because some do not regard it as a country. Instead, some regard it as a province of the UK while others regard it as a part of the Province of Ulster in Ireland." - Global Encyclopedia of Political Geogrpahy, 2009
    • ^ Example: [24]
    • ^ Example:
    • "One specific problem - in both general and particular senses - is to know what to call Northern Ireland itself: in the general sense, it is not a country, or a province, or a state - although some refer to it contemptuously as a statelet: the least controversial word appears to be jurisdiction, but this might change." - S. Dunn and H. Dawson, 2000, An Alphabetical Listing of Word, Name and Place in Northern Ireland and the Living Language of Conflict, Edwin Mellen Press: Lampeter
    • "Next - what noun is appropriate to Northern Ireland? 'Province' won't do since one-third of the province is on the wrong side of the border. 'State' implies more self-determination than Northern Ireland has ever had and 'country' or 'nation' are blatantly absurd. 'Colony' has overtones that would be resented by both communities and 'statelet' sounds too patronizing, though outsiders might consider it more precise than anything else; so one is left with the unsatisfactory word 'region'." - D. Murphy, 1979, A Place Apart, Penguin Books: London
    • "Although a seat of government, strictly speaking Belfast is not a 'capital' since Northern Ireland is not a 'country', at least not in the same sense that England, Scotland and Wales are 'countries'." - J Morrill, 2004, The promotion of knowledge: lectures to mark the Centenary of the British Academy 1992-2002, Oxford University Press: Oxford
    • "Not a country in itself, Northern Ireland consists of six of the thirty-two original counties of Ireland, all part of the section of that island historically known as Ulster." - J V Til, 2008, Breaching Derry's walls: the quest for a lasting peace in Northern Ireland, University Press of America
    • "Northern Ireland is not a country in itself, but a small fragment torn from the living body of Ireland where now the last act of its long struggle for independence is being played out." - W V Shannon, Northern Ireland and America's Responsibility in K M. Cahill (ed), 1984, The American Irish revival: a decade of the Recorder, 1974-1983, Associated Faculty Press
    • "Northern Ireland (though of course not a country) was the only other place where terrorism can be said to have achieved a comparable social impact." - M Crenshaw, 1985, An Organizational Approach to the Analysis of Political Terrorism in Orbis, 29 (3)
    • "The study compare attitudes in Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, the UK, Holland, Ireland, Italy and West Germany. It also includes Northern Ireland, which of course is not a country." - P Kurzer, 2001, Markets and moral regulation: cultural change in the European Union, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge
    • "As I see it, I'm an Irish Unionist. I'm Irish, that's my race if you like. My identify is British, because that it the way I have been brought up, and I identify with Britain and there are historical bonds, psychological bonds, emotional bonds, all the rest of it you know. ... Bit to talk of independence in Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland is not a country, Northern Ireland is a province of Ireland and it is a province in the UK and I think that the notion of a national identity or group identity or racial identity or cultural identity here is a nonsense." - Michael McGimpsey quoted in F. Cochrane, 2001, Unionist politics and the politics of Unionism since the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Cork University Press: Cork
    • "Moreover, Northern Ireland is a province, not a country. Even before direct rule, many of the decisions affecting the economy, labour law, and wage bargaining were in reality taken in London, thereby diminishing the importance of local control." A Aughey, 1996, Duncan Morrow, Northern Ireland Politics, Longmon: London
    • ^ One problem must be adverted to in writing about Northern Ireland. This is the question of what name to give to the various geographical entities. These names can be controversial, with the choice often revealing one's political preferences. ... some refer to Northern Ireland as a 'province'. That usage can arouse irritation particularly among nationalists, who claim the title 'province' should be properly reserved to the four historic provinces of Ireland-Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connacht. If I want to a label to apply to Northern Ireland I shall call it a 'region'. Unionists should find that title as acceptable as 'province': Northern Ireland appears as a region in the regional statistics of the United Kingdom published by the British government." - J. Whyte and G. FitzGerald, 1991, Interpreting Northern Ireland, Oxford University Press: Oxford
    • ^ The Countries of the UK statistics.gov.uk, accessed 10 October, 2008
    • ^ "Countries within a country". 10 Downing Street. Retrieved 2008-08-24. The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland 
    • ^ "Use of the term constituent country is sometimes regarded as inappropriate when applied to Northern Ireland because some do not regard it as a country. Instead, some regard it as a province of the UK while others regard it as a part of the Province of Ulster in Ireland." - Global Encyclopedia of Political Geogrpahy, 2009
    • ^ Example: [25]
    • ^ Example:
    • "One specific problem - in both general and particular senses - is to know what to call Northern Ireland itself: in the general sense, it is not a country, or a province, or a state - although some refer to it contemptuously as a statelet: the least controversial word appears to be jurisdiction, but this might change." - S. Dunn and H. Dawson, 2000, An Alphabetical Listing of Word, Name and Place in Northern Ireland and the Living Language of Conflict, Edwin Mellen Press: Lampeter
    • "Next - what noun is appropriate to Northern Ireland? 'Province' won't do since one-third of the province is on the wrong side of the border. 'State' implies more self-determination than Northern Ireland has ever had and 'country' or 'nation' are blatantly absurd. 'Colony' has overtones that would be resented by both communities and 'statelet' sounds too patronizing, though outsiders might consider it more precise than anything else; so one is left with the unsatisfactory word 'region'." - D. Murphy, 1979, A Place Apart, Penguin Books: London
    • "Although a seat of government, strictly speaking Belfast is not a 'capital' since Northern Ireland is not a 'country', at least not in the same sense that England, Scotland and Wales are 'countries'." - J Morrill, 2004, The promotion of knowledge: lectures to mark the Centenary of the British Academy 1992-2002, Oxford University Press: Oxford
    • "Not a country in itself, Northern Ireland consists of six of the thirty-two original counties of Ireland, all part of the section of that island historically known as Ulster." - J V Til, 2008, Breaching Derry's walls: the quest for a lasting peace in Northern Ireland, University Press of America
    • "Northern Ireland is not a country in itself, but a small fragment torn from the living body of Ireland where now the last act of its long struggle for independence is being played out." - W V Shannon, Northern Ireland and America's Responsibility in K M. Cahill (ed), 1984, The American Irish revival: a decade of the Recorder, 1974-1983, Associated Faculty Press
    • "Northern Ireland (though of course not a country) was the only other place where terrorism can be said to have achieved a comparable social impact." - M Crenshaw, 1985, An Organizational Approach to the Analysis of Political Terrorism in Orbis, 29 (3)
    • "The study compare attitudes in Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, the UK, Holland, Ireland, Italy and West Germany. It also includes Northern Ireland, which of course is not a country." - P Kurzer, 2001, Markets and moral regulation: cultural change in the European Union, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge
    • "As I see it, I'm an Irish Unionist. I'm Irish, that's my race if you like. My identify is British, because that it the way I have been brought up, and I identify with Britain and there are historical bonds, psychological bonds, emotional bonds, all the rest of it you know. ... Bit to talk of independence in Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland is not a country, Northern Ireland is a province of Ireland and it is a province in the UK and I think that the notion of a national identity or group identity or racial identity or cultural identity here is a nonsense." - Michael McGimpsey quoted in F. Cochrane, 2001, Unionist politics and the politics of Unionism since the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Cork University Press: Cork
    • "Moreover, Northern Ireland is a province, not a country. Even before direct rule, many of the decisions affecting the economy, labour law, and wage bargaining were in reality taken in London, thereby diminishing the importance of local control." A Aughey, 1996, Duncan Morrow, Northern Ireland Politics, Longmon: London
    • ^ One problem must be adverted to in writing about Northern Ireland. This is the question of what name to give to the various geographical entities. These names can be controversial, with the choice often revealing one's political preferences. ... some refer to Northern Ireland as a 'province'. That usage can arouse irritation particularly among nationalists, who claim the title 'province' should be properly reserved to the four historic provinces of Ireland-Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connacht. If I want to a label to apply to Northern Ireland I shall call it a 'region'. Unionists should find that title as acceptable as 'province': Northern Ireland appears as a region in the regional statistics of the United Kingdom published by the British government." - J. Whyte and G. FitzGerald, 1991, Interpreting Northern Ireland, Oxford University Press: Oxford