The Troubles generation was marked by an almost total collapse in the unionist sense of Irishness, which is usually explained as a reaction to republican violence. However, I do not believe this alone can account for the extent to which I do not feel Irish in the slightest. I think it is because I grew up in Co Finchley…..
I went to university in Yorkshire, aged 18. When I applied, when I got on the boat and in the three years I was there, I never felt I was anywhere else but in another part of my own country. It was as cosy and familiar as a Tuesday evening BBC sitcom. I doubt many young people today could feel this so completely. Northern Ireland has become its own little country again.
How do we close the gap?
Or are we back to the same old zero sum game, with a peace process gloss added?
How strongly “contested” is Northern Ireland really?
The two main party leaders in the south put on the record that the ability to unite by consent would survive the recreation of a physical border in any form. Fair enough. But are the first throes of Brexit – before we’ve got a clue about the outcome – the best time to raise it as an active proposition? The positions on Brexit from both Sinn Fein and the SDLP are unrealistic as practical politics but are clearly designed to put pressure on the main Dublin parties to become active persuaders for unity.It remains to be seen if they will succeed.
By the way, whatever happened to working together better in power sharing?
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London