Damning comparison between Dev’s Ireland and Salmond’s Scottish Free State

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Kevin Toolis, a Scot of born of Irish parents who wrote “Rebel Hearts”, one of the best books on the IRA on the ground, returns to a previous theme and makes this devastating comparison between an independent Scotland in prospect and post 1916 Ireland in the FT(£).

We do have one good historical model of what it is like to carve out a nationalist state from within the political union of the UK but it is not one the SNP is keen to cite.

For Ireland’s nationalist leaders Padraig Pearse and Eamon de Valera, nationhood could be hewed out in blood and rebellion. But the Irish Free State that arose in the 1920s was a parochial disaster – a backward step even from English rule, which was far from benign.

In creating its new Gaelic-Irish identity the Free State cremated its own twin British-Irish identity, constructed out of 400 years of colonisation and cultural exchange. Whole chapters of Irish history, such as the 200,000 Irish who fought in France in the first world war, just disappeared. And the Irish Free State turned in on itself, its politics reduced to a continual squabble over the lost battles of a civil war – who had betrayed whom; who was the faithful, who the traitorous.

Single-party misrule was to last for decades. Economic fortunes sank. Irish Taoiseachs – prime ministers – such as Charles Haughey almost openly looted the state’s treasuries. Far from being economically independent, the Irish punt was slave-pegged to the English pound. In all but name Ireland remained an economic vassal of the UK Treasury.

But that was not the worst. From the 1920s to the 1970s, millions of Irish were forced to flee – ironically to the UK, in search of work and social freedom. Amid that stream of exiles were Ireland’s greatest artists and writers, figures such as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Edna O’Brien, refugees from the suffocating social prohibitions of the new nationalist order. Rather than bloom, the shamrock withered.

A minor rebellion on the streets of Dublin in 1916 spawned a terrible beauty and an abysmal failed state. The Irish Free State did not make the Irish people free. It bound them in chains. It has taken nearly a century for Ireland to recover and for a real democracy to emerge from the ashes of the Easter rising.

For all his bluster and his mesmerising appeal, Mr Salmond is merely re-enacting the same empty farce in the would-be Scottish Free State.

For a Scot like me, born in Edinburgh of Irish parents, Mr Salmond’s version of “independence” is a truly frightening project. Like its Irish antecedents, an independent Scotland will be founded not on the future promised land but in the flames of the pro-union Scottish identity. Already under the SNP government there has been a heavily felt redefinition of Scottish culture.

The theme of a broader culture is a positive fruitful one for the No campaign to champion in the final stages of the campaign.

The Herald reports a survey showing that the greater commitment and enthusiasm in the Yest campaign is worth 2 or 3 percentage points..

The study has found the Yes ­supporters’ determination to cast their ballot is likely to add two percentage points to the independence campaign’s share of the final vote.

If the findings of the ScotCen social research centre are correct, the two sides appear to be effectively neck and neck, with 138 days to go to the referendum judging by one recent poll.

An ICM survey last month put support for Yes on 48% compared with 52% for No when don’t-knows were discounted – showing the pro-independence campaign would require a swing of two percentage points to draw level.

However, a YouGov poll for Channel 4 News last night showed a much wider 16-point gap between the two sides, with support for Yes on 42% and for No on 58% after the undecideds were stripped out.

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  • Riocard Ó Tiarnaigh

    What’s this? Post-colonialist history for dummies? Ireland post-1922 can be criticised on many points, no question, and has been trenchantly by authors such as Joe Lee and Conor McCabe, but Toolis’s scribblings amount to nothing more than a tendentious diatribe. Also Joyce was no refugee “from the suffocating social prohibitions of the new nationalist order”. He left Edwardian Dublin in 1904 and intended returning to live in the supposedly benighted Free State, when he died in 1941 in Zurich from complications arising from a perforated ulcer.

  • antamadan

    The article was appalling (as most of the good London papers, articles on Scottish independence, a real lapse). Of course the early days of the Free State were a disaster in economic and social terms; but the article implies that the alternative was to remain part of the UK and to have been as rich and cosmopolitan as England. Utter nonsense. The south was worse under British rule, poorer, more unfair, and with bigger emigration – believe it or believe it not.

  • Republic of Connaught

    It’s ridiculous to compare Ireland’s situation in the decades post 1921 to Scotland in 2014.

    Times have moved on a bit socially, politically and economically, although clearly not in the minds of unionist propagandists like Mr Toolis.

  • auguspluck

    Agreed with previous comments. Independence isn’t only about nationalism, and not only the nationalist’s plans. There wasn’t the same type of global capitalism and neo liberalism in the 1920′s as now, and there was also less liberalism (different one) in habits and minds. So how can things turn out the same ? One should probably be careful with “lessons from history” and the idea that history repeats itself. This is an-history, drawing a static non dynamic picture that really helps dogmatic ideology but not critical thinking.

  • Brian Walker

    Whatever you think of him he’s not a unionist propagandist. Credit the man with authentic views, however obnoxious to you,

  • zep

    In the absence of any better example, I can see why the writer feels Ireland is the closest fit to the current situation as we try to picture a post-Scotland UK and vice versa. Time has indeed moved on however and I wonder how much of his analysis bears closer examination. Although I am a pro-unionist I hardly think Scotland leaving the Union would be the complete disaster painted above. I think a lone Scotland could flourish in some areas, struggle in others, but it is unlikely to look much like post-1921 Ireland, emerging from the fog of a vicious conflict and burdened by various legacies which Scotland does not have.

  • Riocard Ó Tiarnaigh

    Nice the way Dev gets most of the blame too, as if the pro-Treatyites – Cumann na Gaedhael, the Blue Shirts, Fine Gael -, who were if anything more hidebound to the dog-collar and the vested interests than the Soldiers of Destiny – had no hand in the “carnival of reaction” on the Southern side of the border post-1922.

  • fear_eile

    Perhaps it’s an indication of how far removed Irish caricatures of Scotland can be from reality that I agree with the Unionist zep. Politically progressive elements in Scotland (Greens, the general left wing, etc.) are supportive of independence, while the most obvious support for continuing in the UK comes from the Conservative Party, big business (connected to the City of London) and the more bellicose parts of the Labour Party. (Surely you remember them! They used to be entitled to get almost all votes in Scotland.)

    What is clear is that a 21st-century independent Scotland not only would not but could not become the victim of a civil war (that ain’t gonna happen) nor the plaything of a controlling clergy (most Scots don’t care about the hereafter, and the clergy are few in number and shrinking) nor an isolationist US landing strip in Europe (all independence-supporting parties are committed to removing weapons of mass destruction).

    Now, if Iceland had been proposed as an analogy…but that wouldn’t have suited a Labour Party-driven agenda. Did I mention that the Labour Party is the right-wing party in Scotland? Since UKIP gets laughed at and Tories are a protected minority, it’s the only party that can be relied on to stand up for the City of London.

    Oh, and Alex Salmond as some kind of De Valera! :-o What kind of Irish poitín has the writer been drinking? Better get a doctor to prescribe some good Highland malt instead. I suggest Lagavulin – produced within sight of Ireland, but so much healthier. :-D

  • Republic of Connaught

    Brian Walker:

    “Credit the man withauthentic views”

    It doesn’t read as authentic at all, Brian; it reads as very weak unionist propaganda to denigrate an independent Scotland.

    He makes a stupid comparison between Ireland and Scotland in two vastly different eras of world history, not just the history of these islands. Does he really think Ireland gaining independence just after WW1 and before WW2 is comparable to Scotland in 2014?

    That’s not to even mention the partition of Ireland, and losing most of Ulster – the then economic heartbeat of the country. Is an independent Scotland going to lose Glasgow and the west of the country?

    If he wants to vote no to Scottish independence, then let him vote no. But he shouldn’t expect such superficial bile to be taken seriously.

  • Son of Strongbow

    If much of the reaction here so far is anything to go by it is unfortunate for Mr Toolis to have had his piece published so close to Easter. Too many seem still drunk on imbibing the ‘blood sacrifice’ mythology.

    How very dare he comment on the magnificent creation hewed by the Bhoys of 1916.

    Tiocfaidh ár lá you Scots b@s!r#d. :0

  • grandimarkey

    @Son of Stongbow

    “If much of the reaction here so far is anything to go by it is unfortunate for Mr Toolis to have had his piece published so close to Easter. Too many seem still drunk on imbibing the ‘blood sacrifice’ mythology.

    How very dare he comment on the magnificent creation hewed by the Bhoys of 1916.”

    Nice strawman there, no attempt to deal with the article at all. Exactly where in the measured comments above is the ‘drunk imbibing of the blood sacrifice mythology’?

    Perhaps it was..

    What’s this? Post-colonialist history for dummies? Ireland post-1922 can be criticised on many points, no question, and has been trenchantly by authors such as Joe Lee and Conor McCabe, but Toolis’s scribblings amount to nothing more than a tendentious diatribe.

    Dear Lord, this lad clearly needs to take off his green-tinted glasses. Or wait? He didn’t mention 1916 at all. He even made reference to the fact that post-1916 Ireland could be criticised for many things.

    How about –

    Of course the early days of the Free State were a disaster in economic and social terms; but the article implies that the alternative was to remain part of the UK and to have been as rich and cosmopolitan as England. ?

    My my. He’s so drunk on the blood sacrifice that he described the free state as a disaster in socio-economic terms within a generally measured response. Not even referencing 1916.

    Ah, you must be talking about this..

    It’s ridiculous to compare Ireland’s situation in the decades post 1921 to Scotland in 2014.

    Oh wait. He didn’t pass comment on the up-rising either. Instead simply said that the comparison is ridiculous. Which it is.

    Who needs reasoned debate though. Just grab loads of hay and build a big old Strawman because they’re way easier to knock down. A reflection on the builder more than anything else.

    Any way, the article as others have pointed out is ludicrous. The socio-political and economic conditions are just so different that the comparison is pointless.

    It has taken nearly a century for Ireland to recover and for a real democracy to emerge from the ashes of the Easter rising.

    Good thing that the YES campaign aren’t advocating a violent uprising on the streets of Edinburgh, no matter how many people would like them to.

    @Brian Walker

    makes this devastating comparison between an independent Scotland in prospect and post 1916 Ireland

    It would be devastating if it wasn’t so laughable.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Indeed, SoS. Why oh did could anyone want to leave the paradise that was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland?

    This is one of the worst NO arguments I have come across yet. And believe me, there’s lots of competition.

    Ireland in 1921 was broken and impoverished. 2014 Scotland isn’t. 2014 Scotland won’t be partitioned & (as RoC says) lose its industrial heartland (where did that go then?), won’t be crippled with paying off land annuities, won’t be under the thumb of a power hungry religious organisation (which btw, was v close to the pre Free State British administration as well).

    Scotland 2014 has an awful lot going for it, the Irish Free State on its foundation in 1921 had sweet FA. The comparison is utterly ridiculous.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    As a matter of passing interest, Tochais Síoraí @ 4:40 pm, would an independent Scotland be so prosperous had it been lumbered with the cost [£1,045,000,000,000] to the UK Treasury of the RBS and HBOS failures?

  • Brian Walker

    Toolis has clearly struck a nerve with conventional nationalists/republicans. For me, the comparisons are provocative but not absurd. The South lost a lot from secession – half old age pensions and national insurance, public sector pay cuts, the diversity of most of the English and Protestant presence, and they had to put up with Griffith’s self destructive “self sufficiency “ economic policy followed by Dev’s lunatic trade war over reneging on the land annuity repayments. Let’s not forget Catholic cultural and social repression -a lot of negatives alongside the positive that mattered most, the right to govern themselves, beside which the others fade into – not quite but nearly – insignificance .

    The most striking difference is that in Ireland there was a radical rejection of the Union by way of armed struggle against rule which had never gelled and had often been stupidly oppressive.. The south in fact retained quite a few British characteristics of governance – law, currency, local government, a Westminster system, but they rejected the appurtenances and symbols and therefore seemed more radical than they were .I have no doubt s Home Rule government would have introduced a Irish language policy.

    The SNP want all the benefits of union without being ultimately governed by Westminster and cuddle up to England. By contrast the Irish simply go there in droves.

    The assertion of self rule is the common factor, angry and revolutionary in Ireland’s case with some cause. A soft landing is the SNP ‘s hope– at least up to the point of a Yes vote – and then, we’d see.

  • IrishSpace Fighter

    Brian Walker your camp sounds increasingly desperate and the whole attack on the irish people’s will for self determination is sickening but what do you expect from pigs but grunts, eh?

  • Old Mortality

    RoC
    ‘Is an independent Scotland going to lose Glasgow and the west of the country?’
    No, but if it could, an independent Scotland would be a very attractive proposition.

  • JPJ2

    Kevin Toolis writes

    “For a Scot like me, born in Edinburgh of Irish parents, Mr Salmond’s version of “independence” is a truly frightening project. Like its Irish antecedents, an independent Scotland will be founded not on the future promised land but in the flames of the pro-union Scottish identity”

    What does this p**h actually mean?????????

  • Harry Flashman

    Despite being as far from “a conventional nationalist or republican” as it is possible to be and being in favour of a No vote in Scotland (even though as a landlord in Edinburgh Scottish independence would suit me economically) I too believe this article to be tendentious in the extreme.

    An independent Scotland today would bear diddly-squat resemblance to Ireland post-1923.

    Ireland went through trauma from 1916 to 1923, self-inflicted some might say but that is irrelevant. In 1923 the country was devastated, law and order barely functioned, thousands had been killed, hundreds of thousands more had been forced to leave their homes, businesses and work.

    Armed bands roamed the country, post office and train robberies were commonplace. One of the few great statesmen of the Irish Free State, Kevin O’Higgins could still be gunned down in broad daylight in a Dublin suburb as late as 1927.

    The basic infrastructure was on the point of collapse, the country was bankrupt and a huge chunk of its landmass had become a foreign state almost overnight.

    What had been a fairly heterogeneous, liberal, well-run, law-abiding, solvent, economically viable, society (by the standards of the time) had been utterly transformed.

    Of course the Free State entered a period of ultra-conservative reaction, any more radicalism would have killed the state stone dead. It had barely begun to find its feet than it was plunged into the horrors of global economic meltdown and devastating war.

    Is there anything even remotely comparable to this likely to occur in Scotland if, as I hope they don’t, the Scots vote yes in the referendum?

  • FuturePhysicist

    What a failed person, he speaks of the freedom he has in Britain but really he his a bitter useless old man that is slaved to his own delusions. The fact he is given a subsistence wage for unionist propaganda that infers that Bono grew up out of a soup kitchen while turning a blind eye to those in the UK living out of food banks shows the narrow minded control freakery that puts people off that ideology.

    These idiots are doing Sinn Féin and the SNP’s jobs for them.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Brian, it’s easy to “cut nerves” but the psychology behind doing so is transferring personal failures motivated by bitterness. No one who is actively contributing to the embetterment of their own society has ever in my experience had the time to spite others. It is insulting to me as a scientist to think the Ireland that people have worked for would be better off economically with the help of people who are of the opinions that it wouldn’t work with out them.

    These seem like the type of people who sounder why Alfred Nobel never gave a prize for having emotions and opinions.

  • Brian Walker

    Future phys and others.
    I don’t accept the conclusion that there’s something wrong with Kevin Tollis’s head. He makes a one- dimensional and polemical case. It’s irrelevant to stress the obvious differences between Ireland 1916 -23 and Scotland now and in a hypothetical future. He’s looking at similarities, actual or potential. He saying that independence wasn’t worth it for Ireland in the outcome at least up to recently, nor would it be for Scotland today and in the future because it represents a narrowing of horizons and a surrender to narrow nationalism. People may not agree but it’s perfectly arguable. Some critics should learn the difference between criticism and abuse.

  • grandimarkey

    @Brian Walker

    He saying that independence wasn’t worth it for Ireland in the outcome at least up to recently, nor would it be for Scotland today and in the future because it represents a narrowing of horizons and a surrender to narrow nationalism.

    Well he’s wrong.

    Scotland voting to govern herself is not a ‘narrowing of horizons’. Having a government in London that you didn’t vote for deciding your foreign policy is the definition of narrow horizons. An independent Scotland would be able to deal with the international community on her own terms, that’s what’s called a ‘broadening of horizons’.

    a surrender to narrow nationalism

    Absolute drivel. There’s nothing narrow about wanting to rid yourself of a government who are clearly not looking after the interests of the country in which you live. And there’s nothing ‘narrow’ about the nationalism we see in Scotland today, a civic-nationalism consisting of everyone who lives in Scotland; not just people who were born there. Eastern-European, Middle-Eastern, African, American, they all get to vote in this election. My mate Ricardo from Venezuela is an activist because he wants to stay in this country and raise a family and he believes an independent Scotland would be better out of the neo-liberal cabal that is Westminster, situated in an undemocratic Union were the rich are continually getting richer and the poor, poorer. What’s ‘narrow’ about that?

    Ill-informed unionist commentary again.

    It’s irrelevant to stress the obvious differences between Ireland 1916 -23 and Scotland now and in a hypothetical future. He’s looking at similarities, actual or potential.

    It isn’t irrelevant at all. To point out the absolutely fundamental differences in everything from the militancy, to the socio-economic system, to religion, to history, to geography, to the fucking giant World War that was going on simply serves to point out how baseless these ‘similarities, actual or potential’ actually are, and how the search for them results in an opinion piece that in large sections doesn’t make any actual sense and for the rest is just inane ramblings about issues that in no way apply to the current situation in Scotland.

  • JPJ2

    grandimarkey

    What you have written is what I was trying to get at when I wrote “What does this p**h actually mean?????????”

    I think you have put it rather better-many thanks :-)

  • Anaximander

    Kevin ‘Toolis’ is appropriately named; his comparative analysis is worth as much as used toilet roll.

    Whatever the weaknesses of the Irish Free State/RoI, it has remained a fully functioning democracy throughout its existence (unlike, say, Spain) and has developed to a point where it is now higher ranked, according to the UN HDI, than Britain. In 1922, Dublin was an underdeveloped backwater; and the South in toto was a mainly agricultural economic wasteland, ruined by generations of British misrule and disinterest, and the effects of a brutal civil war. Most houses didn’t have electricity or even running water and there was no industry to speak of. A state had to be rebuilt from scratch. Also, there was no ‘decades long single party misrule’, perhaps he is thinking of Stormont and the one party sectarian statelet facilitated by Westminster.

    Modern day Scotland is in a totally different position.

    There is no threat of an uncooperative minority making off with Scotland’s economic heartland against the will of the Scottish people, either.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Future phys and others.
    I don’t accept the conclusion that there’s something wrong with Kevin Tollis’s head. He makes a one- dimensional and polemical case. It’s irrelevant to stress the obvious differences between Ireland 1916 -23 and Scotland now and in a hypothetical future. He’s looking at similarities, actual or potential. He saying that independence wasn’t worth it for Ireland in the outcome at least up to recently, nor would it be for Scotland today and in the future because it represents a narrowing of horizons and a surrender to narrow nationalism. People may not agree but it’s perfectly arguable. Some critics should learn the difference between criticism and abuse.

    Saying a “state has failed” is abuse in my opinion particularly when it’s neither in a state of war or has lost its functioning government , do you really have to ask why anyone like me who has had to escape unemployment in the North to get a job in the South sees red mist over a claim to paint the UK as great and the Republic as a failure… Sees red mist at this?

    The Republic took a loan out from the United Kingdom and paid it back with interest because it is independent, under this narrative the major companies left and it’s in a fate worse than it was under the Famine.

    Isn’t it Narrow British nationalism to say without us English /Brits all you Gaels don’t have our great networks or opinions, you have wars and famines and fascism, and everything you work for or struggle for is futile and meaningless in our eyes. Isn’t it narrow nationalism to accuse a country that has referendums on every constitutional reform while the United Kingdom bemoans not having one on European Union membership.

    This is a bigot, he doesn’t understand Ireland, he only understands Britain, so the existence of an Ireland free from Britain is wrong… He probably doesn’t understand Scotland either. Such xenophobia is not reserved for the US, Canada, India or even small islands as Malta, but we have narrow nationalistic ideals that every success it has is British every failure it has is Irish/Gaelic.

    If this isn’t xenophobia, how are these supremacist comments either multicultural or multinational, it’s fighting perceived mono-nationalism with deliberate mono-nationalism. These comments wouldn’t look foreign, pardon the pun, on a BNP pamphlet.

    Big whoop Britain had an empire, so did Spain, so did Greece, so did Rome in Italy, it provides it with no economic guard.

    The United Kingdom has plenty of workers it can be proud of in many fields, as does Ireland but both have narrow nationalists who only want to wipe their opinions on everything with absolutely no evidence but their own suspicions that they are right.

  • Son of Strongbow

    “Scribblings”, “inane”, “propaganda”, “bigot” and a reference to Toolis = tool! just some of the bon mots used in the attack on the opinion piece.

    Why are nationalists so angry? Why is the default position so usually insult?

    There are people in the ‘no’ camp, get over if! They are not some lesser being to be shouted down for speaking an opposing opinion to the one those on the side of ‘yes’ hold.

    Oh and on foot of a successful ‘yes’ vote the ‘no’ folks won’t be decamping from Scotland, so think of the future and particularly about the fact that you’ll still have those people you’re insulting as neighbours.

    Personally I don’t have a dog in this fight. I would prefer of course Scotland to remain in the UK, but I don’t have a vote and have as much fervour about the argument as I do about wether or not it will rain tomorrow.

    That being said I find petty chauvinistic nationalism distasteful, and no matter the deniers that is what is coming through on this thread.

    It is particularly distasteful when you read some of its adherents alluding to a desire for “violent uprising” in Edinburgh on the alleged premise that “many people would like them to”.

  • antamadan

    Future Physicist: . Loved the ‘ Greece and Rome had an empire too’ analogy. Imagine the Greco Romo unionists saying that the French and Germans would be mad to try independence when they could be part of/i.e ruled by the Great Grecian/Roman union/empire.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Why are nationalists so angry? Why is the default position so usually insult?

    “A minor rebellion on the streets of Dublin in 1916 spawned a terrible beauty and an abysmal failed state. The Irish Free State did not make the Irish people free. It bound them in chains. It has taken nearly a century for Ireland to recover and for a real democracy to emerge from the ashes of the Easter rising.”

    If you really want me to compliment this guy then fine, I’ll compliment him on this artistic fiction that paints the United Kingdom of Britain as a weak nation falling from grace that broke in two over a “failed rebellion”, a British country which needed struggling immigrants to have a poetic culture that made people appreciate what it had.

    I apologise for being chauvinistic because wow I’ve been to every county in the Republic of Ireland and the begorah beggars don’t see to be any more a slave than parts of Northern Ireland or Northern England for that matter.

    What do I need to do to show I’m not chauvinistic? Make believe that it’s easier to praise the social freedom of Northern Ireland in comparison to the Republic?

    As far as I am aware the only real social freedom Craig’s Northern Ireland and indeed post war Britain had over Dev’s Free State was the freedom to divorce, ironically the very thing the Free State did.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Future Physicist: . Loved the ‘ Greece and Rome had an empire too’ analogy. Imagine the Greco Romo unionists saying that the French and Germans would be mad to try independence when they could be part of/i.e ruled by the Great Grecian/Roman union/empire.

    Wel of course didn’t Napoleon and Hitler have failed empires too! Ireland is not immune, it once colonised Iceland.

  • Kevsterino

    I wasn’t as impressed with ‘Rebel Hearts’ as Brian was, either, but this article is much worse.

  • FuturePhysicist

    He seems to be a naive “Irish historian” who believes that there wasn’t civil wars and economic deprivation before The Easter Rising. Perhaps being in Union with England meant that it was as rich and as peaceful as England was.

    I’m not bitter or chauvinistic about the successes the UK still has, but if this was meant to be an objective defence of the union, it needs to compare Ireland before and after, rather than just saying “a backward step” what exactly did it move back from, and what would Scotland be moving back from?

    If his argument is that it wasn’t an economic power-horse upon independence, how much of the denizens of the Republic really care about.

  • http://www.oldfaith.wordpress.com truthfinder

    There is a lot to be commended in the piece. Eire is a failed sectarian state that languishes again as a sick man in Europe. Their economy is a basket case, their contribution to international affairs is laughable, and their greatest export has been their people. The only time they have had a measure of economic success is when they have been propped up by EU subsidies or borrowed money from British banks.

    The Irish legacy was setting up the provos, one of the most corrupt political class systems in Europe, the ethnic cleansing of 80% of the Protestant minority, and some gaelic signs to impress gullible American tourists to throw a few cents their way to stave of bankruptcy. Scotland beware of that folly. As John Hume used to say, “you can’t eat a flag.”

  • Harry Flashman

    “Eire is a failed sectarian state that languishes again as a sick man in Europe. Their economy is a basket case…”

    And by contrast the mighty colossus of Northern Ireland has been as a shining beacon on a hill, radiating its manifest virtues of liberalism, academic excellence, tolerance, economic vibrancy, international clout and artistic endeavour to every corner of the globe.

    Hey, listen I’m all for sticking the boot into the Free State every once and a while but for Ulster unionists with their dreary record of a half century of sectarian one-party rule, petty bigotry and catastrophic economic mismanagement to preen themselves and point their fingers at the South’s failures, seriously?

    Two f**ked-up, miserable, bigoted, narrow-minded, insular, basket cases.

    Pot, kettle, anyone?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “The Irish legacy was setting up the provos”

    We (unionists) helped with that by giving them a ’cause’ (of sorts).

    “one of the most corrupt political class systems in Europe”

    Ditto big house unionism

    “the ethnic cleansing of 80% of the Protestant minority”

    Ethnic cleansing of some, but like with many conflict ridden countries, the ones with the capacity to get out of Dodge pronto tend to be the better off or better connected. The withdrawal of the British civil service and army would have added to these numbers.

    ” , and some gaelic signs to impress gullible American tourists to throw a few cents their way to stave of bankruptcy.”

    That’s a remarkably narrow minded comment. Is that why they put Gaelic signs up in parts of Scotland too?

    “. As John Hume used to say, “you can’t eat a flag.””

    Try telling that to flag protesters.

    And as for the rest of ye’s who talk about Scotland determining her own foreign policy:

    Check out this role call of government ministers during the Blair years:

    Blair – Scottish (with Donegal maternal parentage)
    Gordon Brown – Scottish
    Robin Cook – Scottish
    Alistair Darling – Not Scottish, but certainly ‘assimilated’ (educated there, reared there, lives there, lived there most of his life)

    Donald Dewar – Scottish
    Gavin Strang – Scottish
    George Robertson – Scottish

    Derry Irvine, Baron Irvine of Lairg – Scottish

    Bear in mind some of the above were instrumental in bringing the UK into wars.

    Dear old Alba has hardly been under represented has it?

  • DougtheDug

    Brian, I went and read Kevin Toolis’ full article in the FT. As someone who has been involved in Scotlands campaign for independence for years I find the oddest thing about it is that you actually gave it credence as a piece of political analysis. Despite Mr. Toolis’ proclaimed left wing political identity it follows exactly the same pattern as Alan Cochrane’s right-wing rants in the Telegraph about Scottish independence, the Yes campaign, the SNP and Alex Salmond.

    Again from a Scottish perspective that’s not remarkable as the merging of Labour and Conservative identities under the banner of British nationalism has already happened with the creation of the joint Better Together campaign, funded by Tory donors and staffed by Labour.

    You can play Better Together Bingo with it:

    “secessionist”

    “Saltires and swagger”

    “Promised Land”

    “declining oil reserves”

    “Let 1,000 thistles bloom”

    “Bluster”

    “Small Country”

    “Masters in Holyrood”

    “cybernats prowl the social media”

    “Hubris”

    “The hand of the SNP”

    “chains of another empty nationalism”

    “sterile wilderness”

    You can marvel as again the entire independence campaign is reduced to one single hate figure, Alex Salmond

    You can easily spot the one and only campaign idea that Better Together have, Scotland is too poor, small and stupid to be a successful country

    The only deviation from the normal is that Mr. Toolis regards Irish independence and its rejection of the Union as an ongoing disaster as well.

  • FuturePhysicist

    The only part of Ireland that is sectarian is Northern Ireland, sectarianism existed over 800 years all over the island, the Union failed to stop it and partition failed to stop it, so how does independence for the 26 become the exception scapegoat? Anyone who claims that the Republic is sectarian particularly the more south as to reduce the effect of the border as you go, has probably never been

    The Penal laws only aggravated it, as did gerrymandering and internment, so that is facts evident. Unionist leaders regularly come down to Dublin uninhibited, and Willy Frazier canceled his march on Dublin when he saw he couldn’t provoke a reaction. Ireland’s Olympic hero is an evangelical Protestant, the Queen and prime ministers have praised their closest partners in Europe.

    In terms of being a basket case, that doesn’t fit well with the economic investment it has provided the North or the vital cross border services it needs in terms of healthcare and road services despite its economic problems which it is dealing with, with a lot more grace than exists up North.

    The death of the union will be sealed by those unionists who are more anti-Gael, anti-Celt than pro-union, more Hibernophobe or Caledoniaphobe than Britanniaphile.

  • FuturePhysicist

    There is a lot to be commended in the piece. Eire is a failed sectarian state that languishes again as a sick man in Europe. Their economy is a basket case, their contribution to international affairs is laughable, and their greatest export has been their people. The only time they have had a measure of economic success is when they have been propped up by EU subsidies or borrowed money from British banks.

    Northern Ireland has had a brain drain for decades, it has no international say other than ironically one ambassador to the Pope who has probably lost his job, the last UK cabinet minister it has was Ruth Kelly and she didn’t stand in Northern Ireland, the self sufficiency it one had in the wake of post Thatcher Britain is gone, causing a legacy of deprecation to the East Belfast communities that once relied on it, instead of breaking away economically it finds itself looking to Irish solutions such as low corporation tax and EU subsidies to grow.

    Piggybacking and jingoism doesn’t provide any economic solutions to a decreasing public sector and stagnant private sector that exists in NI.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    FuturePhysicist

    I agree with most of what you say, but “sectarianism existed over 800 years all over the island, ”

    Splane, please.

    Whatever happened to “Hiberniores Hibernis ipsis”?

  • http://www.oldfaith.wordpress.com truthfinder

    Please don’t make me multiply evidence to demonstrate the existence of the southern sectarian state. For instance:

    “President de Valera welcomed the Legate on behalf of the Irish Catholic nation and assured him of Ireland’s great loyalty to the Catholic Church and to the figure of the Pope.”

    http://multitext.ucc.ie/d/De_Valera_welcomes_Cardinal_Lauri_21_June_1932

    So much for parity of esteem in Eire! The Equality Commission would have a field day with that one! Up there with the McCreesh “Prod killer” Park in Newry.

    NI was not a basket case. It’s unemployment rate is traditionally not that much worse than GB. In fact it was one of the wealthier parts of the UK until Marty and Gerry resigned their jobs (strange that as they were supposedly offended by discrimination) and joined the sectarian death squads of the provos to destroy the NI economy.

    The FACT is that NI was a warmer place for the Catholic minority than Eire was for the Protestant minority. That may be an uncomfortable truth for many here as it doesn’t fit with the narrative.

  • mr x

    @truthfinder

    Try reading Hansard from the 1950′s. Or google Captain Orr MP.He tells a different story. Why do you think the closure of the GNR lines in Fermanagh caused such a stir?

  • FuturePhysicist

    “There is no positive ground for the Unionist camp to occupy, just a slow defeatist retreat towards the nationalist position.”

    Kevin Tollis

    @truthfinder, do you agree with the writer’s view on unionism?

    As for Northern Ireland, Terrence O’Neill had to have a hands across the border moment with Lemass, something to do with having “some of the same problems”. The idea that there was an elite North and a deprived South on Ireland during the 60′s is foolish, even for unionism to admit to.

  • Greenflag

    Yesterday I watched Munster hammer Edinburgh 55 -12 in Rugby on my laptop . Maybe if the Scots vote YES they might have a bit more gumption about playing for their country . Interestingly for all those anti Gaelic unionist monoglots the rugby commentary was in Scots Gaelic interspersed with English . I understood most of the Scots Gaelic :)

    Toolis can’t be taken seriously . Apart from the fact that Scotland in 2014 bears no comparison to Ireland in 1914 much less in the ensuing 10 years his ‘analysis is deliberately exaggerated for political propaganda purposes .

    As one example he states

    ‘ From the 1920s to the 1970s, millions of Irish were forced to flee – ironically to the UK, ‘

    Millions ? How many millions exactly .?

    At independence 1922 Ireland’s population was 2.6 million .Today it’s 2 million more and the island has a population 1.5 million more than Scotland .

    And that despite the loss of just under a million people 1920-1970.

    Emigration was not absent from Northern Ireland either .

    Sometimes it’s difficult for ‘new ‘ nations to become established . Just look at present day Ukraine ? Scotland starts from a much better base than the Irish Free State had in 1922 and the Scots have not had to endure several decades of political unrest , sectarian warfare and civil war in the run up to independence .

    I’ve been relatively neutral up to now on the Scots independence election but having seen what the No voters have to offer Scotland I hope the Scots have enough respect for themselves to vote YES on the day .

    Hopefully the young people of modern Scotland will show the old farts that they don’t want to end up like Northern Ireland as a ‘dependency ‘ culture with little or no future for it’s brightest and best in their own country .

  • Harry Flashman

    “NI was not a basket case. It’s unemployment rate is traditionally not that much worse than GB…”

    Northern Ireland, was, is and probably always will be an economic basket case, it only keeps its head above water due to the massive subvention it receives from the British taxpayer.

    Two states were created in Ireland in 1922, both with different degrees of independence from the UK.

    Both were administered by blinkered, narrow-minded, petty men. Both institutionalised sectarianism and bigotry, both had difficulties making ends meet and both had unimaginative and mean-spirited civil services who had felt spending money on alleviating hardship among the less well-off members of society was a waste of money that could be better spend subsidising the middle class.

    Both states were intolerant of dissent and used discrimination, oppression, violence and incarceration to deal with minorities that didn’t fit in, be they women, the poor, religious minorities, socialists or gays. For both states emigration was the best option facing any citizen with a bit of gumption.

    But because Northern Ireland was more linked than the Free State/Irish Republic to the British state, and because international financiers had used the City of London to turn SE England into a grubbier, more inefficient, colder, less law-abiding version of Singapore and thus bail out the economic nincompoops administering Northern Ireland, that gave bragging rights to Northern unionists.

    Grow up!

  • grandimarkey

    @Son of Strongbow

    There are people in the ‘no’ camp, get over if! [sic] They are not some lesser being to be shouted down for speaking an opposing opinion to the one those on the side of ‘yes’ hold.

    No one’s arguing that there aren’t No supporters, but the point of political debate (if you want to call this piece political, perhaps ‘historical’ is more appropriate) is to debate and critique the points raised, which is something that you still haven’t done with regards to this piece. If you can point out how the criticisms of this article are unfounded then go ahead, even better would be if you could point out the merits of the article.

    Oh and on foot of a successful ‘yes’ vote the ‘no’ folks won’t be decamping from Scotland, so think of the future and particularly about the fact that you’ll still have those people you’re insulting as neighbours.

    No body has ever said they will. *Ahem Strawman again*. Passing judgment on an article is not insulting any neighbour. The debate in Scotland is by and large civil, mature and energising. I know No voters as every single Yes voter does and they remain friends and acquaintances, politics is politics, it’s not the basis for my friendship with people.

    That being said I find petty chauvinistic nationalism distasteful

    Thank the Lord that the Yes campaign isn’t exuding the above then.

    and no matter the deniers that is what is coming through on this thread.

    No it isn’t. Critiquing a ludicrous article by showing why it is ludicrous is not petty, it isn’t chauvinistic, and how it can be nationalistic to assess a poorly thought out piece of writing is beyond me. Particularly since one of the commentators above who points out the follies in this article is in favour of a No vote. Blinkers off please, Sir.

    It is particularly distasteful when you read some of its adherents alluding to a desire for “violent uprising” in Edinburgh on the alleged premise that “many people would like them to”.

    Dry your eyes.