It’s a no brainer. Dublin will cleave to the British-Irish relationship to navigate through Brexit rather than become persuaders for unity

Chris Donnelly is right to believe that Brexit will give an immediate boost to the cause of a United Ireland and he expresses it in terms well removed from the old Sinn Fein mantra.

In the longer term, Brexit presents an unexpected opportunity for many in nationalist Ireland to develop a vision of an Ireland embracing an interdependent role and future amongst European peoples, in contrast to a unionist vision of a United Kingdom increasingly standing apart from its European neighbours. 

This needs unpicking. What is the vision of Ireland in Europe? And will his narrow view of a unionist vision (does he mean NI unionist or English Brexiteer unionist) prevail?   Whatever the DUP’s political reasons for supporting Leave, there is no vision of Britain without Europe.   And while remaining committed to the EU, Ireland is an unlikely enthusiast for fiscal integration. The diaspora may be sophisticated but its cultural anchors are in the Anglo or the Anglo-hyphen sphere.  Additionally  the tendency of republican  advocates to obsess on identity and generally neglect complex economic arguments is a serious weakness.

The next question is whether the first flush of enthusiasm  will lead anywhere. If anything Brexit makes the calculations for future Irish unity more problematical and dangerous than the earlier visions based on reconciliation  and coming together.

While the Dublin establishment can spot an opening to unity long term, their collective wish is for a British relationship with Europe as close as possible to what we’ve got. Like Ben Hur at the end, they are astride more than one chariot. And – just possibly despite all the disavowals – they hope the whole thing will go away by following the Irish precedent for a second referendum sometime.

Do not doubt that  the GFA status quo is  very attractive to southerners. In general they do not subscribe to the relentless Clausewitzian dynamic of unity which may still  be Sinn Fein’s  approach and Donnelly’s prophetic vision.  My betting is that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will make accommodating moves at some point but will finally decline to become active persuaders for unity for fear of upsetting the precariously loaded applecart.

And what of the British establishment, if it still exists?    The British union is certainly vulnerable. Just now the English Conservative majority seems quite prepared to see Scotland hive off, never mind Northern Ireland. But Scotland complicates rather than simplifies the calculation about Northern Ireland. Will British opinion ride to the rescue of the Union at the last minute, Northern Ireland included?

We can be sure one thing    Foreseeably , the constitutional agenda will not be driven by eager Northern opinion  whether unionist or nationalist.  Looking through a glass darkly to the future, the contours of the issue remain remarkably constant. .

When we get an inkling of the terms for triggering  Article 50, the Irish government ‘s priority will be to win tolerable terms for the island in collaboration with both sides of the negotiations, rather than dwell on aspirations for unity.  Making whatever emerges work  will last for decades.  Where it matters, there will simply not the energy  to indulge in visions of unity.

The only real scope lies  in  a Brexit disaster. Who apart from the  greatest fanatic would want that? A  disaster for Ireland would create ferment and could threaten stability. That is what the  establishments fear and why they are likely to hold tight to the  existing British-Irish relationship.  They will use it to navigate through  any shift of opinion accompanying  a Catholic majority in the medium term. There is plenty of scope here for unionists to come out of denial and  acquire a little wisdom about developing closer relations with the south. But Northerners whether unionist or nationalists will not call the shots on the  fundamentalist question.

The Irish Times have recently ran a fascinating series “ Britain and Me”  on  experiences of shifting identities, followed by readers’ reactions at home and abroad. The paper’s own summing up captures the overall flavour of warm feelings towards Britain and  the conclusions that can be drawn from them.


The sterile alternatives of an Irish nationalism looking to break the connection with England versus a West British identity are largely outmoded. They have been replaced by a sense that Ireland (and increasingly Northern Ireland) are comfortable with their own distinctiveness but also happy to enjoy the benefits of being part of “these islands”.

Those who campaigned for Brexit seemed oblivious to its consequences for the North and for Anglo-Irish relations. All we have heard from them now that they control the political agenda are emollient reassurances. Their desire to sustain a relationship that has improved beyond recognition is undoubtedly genuine. But this time both history and geography impose a duty to think much more seriously about what they are doing.

From West Belfast, there was one exception, to  spoil the party as it were…  He was reacting to Newton Emerson’s “I do not feel Irish in the slightest “ – (a provocative columnist’s view rather than a typical one).

We were the generation who finally rejected the partitionist statelet; we felt the full terror of British army storm troopers kicking in doors, murdering innocent women and kids, no-jury courts, state collusion and death squads, Long Kesh and hunger strikes. We didn’t need anyone to tell us that it wasn’t our army or state; we fully understood and rejected the failed partitionist basket-case entity – and we definitely weren’t British.

Within our community our Irish identity prevails: Casement Park and Gaelic games; the flag of the Irish Republic flying proudly on Andersonstown Road; Irish-language classes and Gaelscoileanna in every area; schools where Irish, not British, history is taught.

While Emerson looks to “the mainland” (whatever that is) we always looked to Dublin, the capital of Ireland. So the experience of a 15-year-old nationalist in 1970s Belfast was entirely different from the experience of Newton Emerson, post-conflict, around the trendy bars on Lisburn Road.

Belfast is an Irish city, with a nationalist-republican majority, that has been dragged kicking and screaming from a sectarian wasteland into a trendy modern city of equals, still divided but definitely not looking to the “mainland”. Maybe it has looked more to Europe than Dublin in the modern era, but it was never “as British as Finchley”.

Paddy McMenamin


  Not quite the whole story  perhaps but who could blame him for presenting a picture that is  so much better than  it used to be? 


  • Tochais Siorai

    Trad music niche? Ever been to an All Ireland fleadh?

    Insular GAA mindset? Do you actually know many people involved in the GAA?

  • Tochais Siorai

    John, Some rugby internationals would fill the Aviva at least twice over. The upcoming NZ game would easily fill Croker.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Never heard Limerick county being described as the spiritual home of Irish rugby. Limerick city is another matter entirely.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Limerick county is never regarded as the spiritual home of Irish rugby. Limerick city is a different matter.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Never remember those 2 being the ‘compulsory’ Irish on RTE2. It was usually the likes of Lizzy, the Rats, far too much U2 (and Bagatelle!), Undertones, Blades and some of the lesser known were given airtime. There was a liberal enough interpretation of ‘Irish’ – the Pogues were included and I think Dexy’s as well.

  • Tochais Siorai

    You have to say you can’t fault them for lack of effort on that score.

  • John Collins

    I just doubt that but everyman to his own opinion. How come a relatively recently constructed Aviva Stadium is only built to cater for about 40,000 if the demand for seats is ever as high as you suggest. Apart from all that the combined population of Kilkenny and Tipp is around 250,000 and at least 60,000 people from these two counties were in Croke Park on final day or 25% of their combined population. At that rate about 1.5 million should be looking for tickets for a team representing All Ireland, as the international rugby side does.

  • John Collins

    Where did all belonging to Well Ellis come from? They came from Abbeyfeale. Where did Bill Mulcahy, Seamus Dennison, Denis and Bertie Cussen, John ‘Bull’ Hayes, Philip Danagher, Larry Moloney, David Wallace, Mike Fitzgibbon, Dave O’Loughlin and Jerome Mullane, among other internationals, all come from. Answer; Rural County Limerick. Even De Valera played with Munster and he was a Bruree man.
    Limerick City may be stronger in rugby but the game is relatively strong in the county also.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Intrinsic”? Is that shorthand for “whatever I randomly decide”?

  • Granni Trixie

    you welcome ‘Unionists’ standard of living slipping? A slip surely?
    If not, by this logic you welcome a lack of educational achievement for Protestant boys ( and I’m crediting you with not wanting that, who would).

  • John Collins

    What is the big deal? Man U have won thirteen of the last 24 Premierships, and MC, has won two to boot. However the title is no less interesting for that. Limerick teams won the first 9 All Ireland Div 1 One Leagues, but that was no big deal either.

  • Tochais Siorai

    The Aviva’s capacity is 51,700. Croker was full for all 6 Nations games that were held there. Every man to his own opinion but facts are good too.

  • John Collins

    But why would it not be full. The island of Ireland alone has six million people to draw from, never mind playing England, Italy or France all with populations in excess of 50 million. As I said below Tipp and Kilkenny have a combined population of about a quarter of a million and they put about 60,000 people between them into Croke Park on final day. There is no way rugby has that level of support. Just goes to show figures can be quoted to support every argument

  • Tochais Siorai

    Straw man again. At least 10 counties, maybe more could provide a similar or stronger list. But nowhere in Ireland compares to Limerick city for level of interest in the game, number of senior clubs, ail titles, working class tradition etc etc.

    And David Wallace is not from rural county Limerick.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘As deprived as the southern Irish were we didn’t feel the need to take down our own state.’
    No you just moved to England when it all became too much. Your northern cousins already had the British welfare state to lean on. And it was only a relatively small group of armed insurrectionists that wanted to ‘take down the state’.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Straw man. I never said that rugby had the same level of support as GAA. However you mistakenly claimed that the Aviva held just 40,000 with the implication that was all rugby could fill. There were all kinds of issues with the planning of the Aviva and the limited space etc and it was decided that the enormous extra spend to bring it up to a higher capacity couldn’t be justified even if rugby internationals could easily get 70/80,000.

  • Old Mortality

    Isn’t it a good job the population shrank so much. Just think how poor those potential extra millions would have been! Except that a good many of them would have found their way across the Irish Sea, if not the Atlantic.

  • Anglo-Irish

    You may be prepared to accept ‘commonly accepted definition’ I prefer actuality, and I can assure you that over here in Britain we do not accept people from Northern Ireland as British.

    They are all Paddys as far as your average English, Scots and Welsh person is concerned.

    That is also is a commonly accepted definition.

    See how that works?

    Quoting the name of the state as shown on the passport and getting it wrong?

    I missed out the ‘Great’.

    As the Great in the passport description doesn’t apply to Northern Ireland it made no difference whatsoever to the point that I was making did it?

    Northern Ireland isn’t in Great Britain, England,Scotland and Wales are, which is why there is no need to mention them on the passport.

    Pedantry is acceptable if it is pertinent to the matter in hand, if it isn’t then it is somewhat otiose.

  • Anglo-Irish

    No I did not purposefully omit the word Great .

    Northern Ireland isn’t in Great Britain, if it was there would be no need to refer to Northern Ireland on the passport as a separate entity would there?

    England, Scotland and Wales do not get a mention on the cover of the passport because they are actually in Great Britain.

    Northern Ireland isn’t, never has been and never will be, which is why it has to be referred to separately.

    Is there any chance that on this occasion you can manage to understand that fact?

    If Northern Ireland was in Great Britain the front of the passport would simply read ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain’ wouldn’t it?

    Why do you think that the smallest part of the UK is singled out for a mention when England isn’t?

    It’s because you don’t belong, you are an anomaly, an enclave, an embarrassing leftover of Empire and Britain will be quite pleased to get rid of you.

    You can whistle in the dark as much as you wish but those are the cold hard facts of the matter.

  • John Collins

    I could not reply to you below for some reason. As far as I know David Wallace, unlike Paul and Richard, has spent much of his youth in Adare.
    Now list those ten counties, no city players allowed, who have had more Irish rugby internationals than County Limerick

  • cu chulainn

    The Irish government didn’t have jurisdiction over Dublin at one time, but Dublin was still in Ireland.

  • cu chulainn



    1.of or relating to the essential nature of a thing; inherent

  • chrisjones2

    What have insects got to do with it


  • John Collins

    Silly me. I just thought of four other rugby internationals from rural Co Limerick. Hugh de lacy from Castleconnell, a McGrath man from Herbertstown, both long ago and Jeremy Staunton and Bryan Murray from much more recent times. You can take David Wallace back. I am still waiting for the ten, complete with names of course.

  • John Collins

    No actually. No polity thrives on their population disappearing. Since GB left our population has increased from 2.9 to 4.8 million, which is roughly the same level of increase as there has been in GB over the same period. Even with that increase we are still one of the very few countries in Europe that still have a smaller population than they had in 1841.

  • Jollyraj

    “No I did not purposefully omit the word Great”

    Then you omitted it by mistake? Not checking one of the most basic – and easily checkable – facts upon which your argument is based rather badly shows up the intellectual strength of your premise.

    Being deliberately obtuse won’t help you here. Nor will spreading smoke around.

    The facts are clear.

    “Why do you think that the smallest part of the UK is singled out for a mention when England isn’t?”

    Because NI isn’t on the island of Great Britain. Hence “the UK of GB and NI”. Not, as you said, “The United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland” – as NI is already a part of Britain.

    I know you can argue about this endlessly, and if you wish to spend your days in stubborn, willful blindness to the fact that your deeply cherished take on this is factually incorrect it is none of my concern.

    But I have no interest in being drawn into this argument with you.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I am aware that Great Britain doesn’t include Northern Ireland. I even provided you with a dictionary definition of ‘Great Britain’ which makes that clear – so why you feel the need to Quote the definition back to me rather escapes me. I also provided you with a dictionary definition of ‘Britain’ which you should have noted is different to that of ‘Great Britain’. As ‘Britain’ and ‘Great Britain’ have different definitions, using ‘Britain’ instead of ‘Great Britain’ does in fact make a difference. That’s why the passport says ‘Great Britain’ and not ‘Britain’.

    It should be clear by now that the terms ‘Britain’ and ‘British’ refer to much more than Great Britain. Indeed the British government used to refer to these islands as the BRITISH Isles even though Ireland was never part of Great Britain. British governments have also gone to great lengths to ensure that the Falkland Islands remain British even though they are not part of Great Britain. As to what the average English, Scots and Welsh person thinks about Ireland and Irish people, I think it is worth remembering that not every English, Scots or Welsh person has a good grasp of things pertaining to Ireland and the Irish. Even the Brexit Minister David Davis was recently reported to have believed that the border between Northen Ireland and the south was an INTERNAL UK border. Of course it is possible to be both Irish and British just as it is possible to be Gibraltarian and British but this does not mean you are from Great Britain.

  • Jollyraj

    “hundreds of thousands of people speak Irish, to varying levels of proficiency.”

    You are setting the bar very, very low I fear.

    If you are including people who know literally two or three words then fine – but you might as well say hundreds of millions of people speak Latin.

    Probably a fairer estimate would be those who can carry on a basic free-form conversation in the language for a sustained period, without too much miscommunication.

    In NI at least, I doubt that would be more than a few thousand.

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    Ten out of ten for you Master Jones. Clever, and right on topic 😉

  • Anglo-Irish

    If you were born in Northern Ireland you are entitled to claim British citizenship, you are also entitled to ignore that entitlement and choose Irish citizenship.

    Should you choose to obtain a UK passport it does not make you British, it makes you a British citizen.

    Otherwise there would be no way to describe the difference between someone actually born in Britain and someone else born outside Britain but with British nationality.

    Fortunately we are spared this confusion by the simple fact that if like me you were born in any part of Great Britain you may refer to yourself as British and be correct in that claim.

    However, if you were born in NI correctly speaking you are Irish ( unless you have no Irish connection other than place of birth of course ) with a Great Britain and Northern Ireland passport, making you a citizen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    The AND Northern Ireland part referring specifically to you with the Great Britain part referring to England, Scotland and Wales.

    The state has specifically separated those from NI from those from GB on the passport for the simple reason that they are not the same, they are from different parts of the UK.

    Why you can’t just accept this as a fact of life and get on with things is a puzzle to us all in Britain.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Didn’t realise I was in conversation with someone who never makes a mistake.

    Yes I made a mistake but not only was it a minor unimportant one it had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the point which I was making.

    You of course seized upon it in a desperate and failed attempt to make a comeback on the specific point.

    You said that people in the six counties are British and come from a wee corner of Britain.

    I corrected that utterly inane and ridiculously inaccurate comment by pointing out that NI is in fact a corner of Ireland and is not in Britain or Great Britain and never has been.

    Why do you think it is necessary to mention NI on the passport? If it was in any way a part of GB it wouldn’t be needed would it?

    You are quite right not to get drawn into this argument with me because that would leave me in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Webb Ellis wasn’t Irish, maybe never even set foot in Ireland and as for him being the initiator of Rugby, sorry but it’s a romanticised myth.

  • Jollyraj

    “Why do you think it is necessary to mention NI on the passport? If it was in any way a part of GB it wouldn’t be nee ded would it?”

    Boysadear…………Yes indeed – as carefully, painstakingly pointed out above, all in vain it seems – NI is not on the island of Great Britain. But is nonetheless part of Britain.

    “You are quite right not to get drawn into this argument with me because it would leave me in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.”

    Quite. And because of your willingness to fall on your own sword with the dimwitted adherence to an argument that is so patently flawed, no arms were needed to defeat you.

  • the moviegoer

    Referring to Northern Ireland as Britain is an act of mischievousness. Ireland was never called Britain when ruled by Westminster and I doubt east Ulster was ever called Britain prior to 1920. It’s a recent political nomenclature with no basis in historical or geographical fact.

    Nevertheless unionists are of course British by dint of ancestry. They are a distinct ethnic group that have remained fairly homogenous over 300-400 years so their Britishness, by way of ancestry, is also an established historical and geographical fact. Even in a United Ireland they would be British. Heritage doesn’t disappear because of a political border change. I think republicans trying to get unionists to denounce their Britishness is also an act of mischievousness.

    Once NI’s economy continues to be based so much on the public sector it’s perhaps understandable that unionists prefer to be called British than Northern Irish. It’s playing up to where the money comes from. It will probably take the private sector surpassing the public sector in NI before unionists want to be called Northern Irish again. At the end of the day it’s about money. Most things are.

  • Tochais Siorai

    I never said I could list ‘ 10 counties, no city players allowed who have had more rugby internationals than County Limerick.’ Again you do the straw man thing and twist the question. Pointless debating anything with you really but maybe come back when you understand what a straw man argument is. You’ve had 3 so far today and that’s it with me I’m afraid.

    What I said was I could name 10 counties who could provide a similar or stronger list to your own rural County Limerick one which, even you might admit included people who would not be by any stretch of the imagination, well known throughout Ireland. Anyway, these are Antrim Derry Down Galway Dublin Armagh Wicklow Kildare Cork and Clare. FFS I’d say Currow parish in Kerry has more Irish and Lions caps than your list.

    Well maybe not if it was Conor Murray the rugby player you meant rather than Bryan Murray who is an actor.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Northern Ireland is not, nor has it ever been part of Britain or even Great Britain.

    No one with any vestige of knowledge or commonsense would claim that it was, it’s a ridiculous statement to make.

    That link claims that Ireland is in the ‘British Isles’ that is a somewhat arrogant and dubious claim, but even if it were to be accepted it still wouldn’t make Ireland a part of Britain as the ordnance survey map makes perfectly clear.

    Choosing to name something does not make it your property, the English Channel doesn’t belong to England nor the Irish sea to Ireland.

    Northern Ireland is currently in the UK, but it isn’t, and never has been in Britain or Great Britain.

    “Northern Ireland is not on the island of Great Britain, but is nonetheless part of Britain “.

    Hilarious! You should take your act on the road, you are quite amusing whether you know it or not.

  • John Collins

    I understand he spent part of his school years in at the school of Erasmus Smith in Tipperary Town, so he did ‘set foot’ in Ireland and yes the Ellises were Landlords in Abbeyfeale and romanticised myth or not the Rugby World Cup is called after him

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I know what intrinsic means 🙂

  • John Collins

    There is a website which shows an Irish team, or at least fifteen players from ‘lesser known rugby playing’ counties. Among the counties are Clare (Horan Wood),Down (Paddy Wallace) Derry (Tremble) Armagh (I forget who), and you list those counties among your ten.
    I mistook Conor for his cousin Bryan, a fellow Patrickswell man, who played in goal for Limerick hurlers- a senior moment.
    As regards your Currow remark, that is a good point, but in my 66 years only six Kerry men, two Springs, two Doyles, Galwey and Sexton from listowel played for Ireland. A lot more that several other counties though

  • the moviegoer

    “No you just moved to England when it all became too much.” Yes, many did, and did a good job over there too. A lot of skills and cash flowed back to the homeland to regenerate it in the 90s. Unlike the public sector protectorate that is NI.

  • Muiris

    When living in England ( 1980s), I usually referred to Britain as lying between Ireland and the Mainland.

  • the moviegoer

    No, I don’t welcome it. I’m just pointing out that was probably the mindset of Catholics back in the 50s and 60s. They didn’t think they’d be any better off financially in a United Ireland but probably felt they wouldn’t be any worse off either. The only losers economically would be Protestants and the attitude was “so what? what did they ever do for us?”

  • Granni Trixie

    Speaking personally, the ‘mindset’ of people in NI(heck, WB) in the 50s and 60s as reflected in talk around me anyway was that they did not think about UI! This is also illustrated in th fact that I only knew that my father was in the ‘old’ IRa after he died in 2001!

  • the moviegoer

    I will defer to your first-hand knowledge. However, at some stage a UI did become an aspiration for a lot of Catholics and economic discrimination was surely a factor in this. It was the spark which led to the Civil Rights movement initially.

  • John Collins

    For some reason I could not reply to you above at this time, but 7 Kerry men actually played with Ireland in my lifetime, I incredibly forgot Moss Keane. However the three Currow men have three Lions caps between them, when I checked it out Bill Mulcahy, from Rathkeale, alone has 6 caps and I remember Bill playing quite well. Dave O’Loughlin from Killmallock won 6 international caps and was grandfather of the present three O’Loughlin brothers, who play with Kilmallock hurlers at the moment. Denis Cussen was an Olympian sprinter and played with Ireland for years in the 1920s. He was reported as going over the line ‘festooned with Saxons’ on his way to scoring one of two tries V England. His nephews John and Robert Cussen are still living in NCW. Mick Fitzgibbon also won six international caps in the eighties. Hugh de Lacy was also a very versatile sportsman and played both hockey and ruby for Ireland also in the ’20s. So the men I mentioned are fairly popular and well known and after all that I even have not elaborated on the careers of Philip Danaher or his fellow parishioner the flying Seamus Dennison, who stopped a famous All Black in his tracks in 78.

  • Roger

    Interesting, the dictionary suggests a place like Jersey (off France) is part of Great Britain.

  • Roger

    “before unionists want to be called Northern Irish again”.
    Don’t agree that there was ever a time when the NORTHERN Irish tag was widely adopted by unionists in Northern Ireland.

  • Roger

    “Why change what is working quite well?”

    If we are to believe economist David MacWilliams, Northern Ireland really isn’t “working quite well”. Certainly not compared to Ireland:

    – Ireland’s economy is now four times that of Northern Ireland’s, even though the labour force is not even two and a half times bigger.
    – Ireland is now closish to twice as rich per person as Northern Ireland. Average income per person in Ireland is €39,873; it’s €23,700 in Northern Ireland.
    – Ireland’s industrial output is now ten times greater than that of Northern Ireland.
    – Ireland produces 15 times more exports.

    Northern Ireland’s economy has continued to get smaller relative to Ireland’s long after the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland ended. That trend continues today. All this in the context of what’s now Northern Ireland having been by far the wealthiest part of the former Ireland all those years ago. Brexit, I predict, will screw Northern Ireland the most of all UK regions. But that’s just my Brexit opinion and we don’t know the future.

    All that’s just focused on economics. But there’s really nothing very nice and dandy about peace walls either. Though, admittedly, Ireland has its social problems too: patients on trollies etc.

    Northern Ireland isn’t “working quite well”. In the end it’s a simple point.

  • john millar

    Long ago and far away “Magee” in Derry was a college of TCD with transfer to Dublin for final year from memory. Stupidly Magee was transferred to UU in the 1970`s (again from fading memory ) and a vital link was lost/destroyed

  • john millar

    Don`t get caught — Orkney Shetland, the Inner and Outer Hebrides etc are not part of “Great Britain/ Britain” even god forbid the Isle of Wight- but the natives are (or are held to be” British”) Can we exclude them because they are not born on the big Island ?

  • Anglo-Irish

    Well according to this link, whilst the Channel islands and Isle of Man aren’t in Great Britain, Orkney is, and as it’s a council area of Scotland I would imagine that’s correct.

    However, my point was a simple and straightforward one, Ireland isn’t a part of Great Britain, that’s all that I’m trying to explain.

    A part of it is currently still in the UK but none of it is, or ever was, in Great Britain.

    Therefore, people born in NI whilst having the right to a ‘British’ passport are not British.

    They are British citizens as is anyone else entitled to a British passport but not actually born in Britain.

    This fact couldn’t be made clearer to people from NI as they are specifically referred to on the passport.

    Anyone with an ounce of commonsense would realise that that means that the reference to ‘And Northern Ireland’ refers to them specifically and the reference to ‘ Great Britain ‘ does not include them.

    Why that fact is so difficult to understand I have no idea.

    Having said which, when there are apparently people born and living in NI who are under the impression that they’re living in ” a corner of Britain” I suppose that I shouldn’t be that surprised. : )

  • Alan N/Ards

    I hate to say this but a lot of prods lived in poverty well into the 70’s and beyond. Their homes were slums with outside toilets. A relation of mine lived in a house (in the early 80’s) which only had one electric socket.

    So not all prods were living the life of Riley 50 years ago (and many are still poor) so I don’t think that they would have lost anything if there had have been a UI then.

  • john millar

    “However, my point was a simple and straightforward one, Ireland isn’t a part of Great Britain, that’s all that I’m trying to explain.”

    Sadly neither is the IOW Hebrides Shetland etc and would they would those born there fall under

    “They are British citizens as is anyone else entitled to a British passport but not actually born in Britain.” ?

    Don`t get caught

  • Anglo-Irish

    Well according to this link the Hebrides,Shetlands and the Isle of Wight are all islands of Great Britain.

    What’s the confusion here?

    It’s straight forward, Ireland isn’t a part of Great Britain which is the only point that I’m making, I couldn’t care less about other islands as they have no bearing on the fact that anyone born in any part of Ireland isn’t born in any part of Great Britain, and is therefore deluding themselves if they think that they are British in any other sense than being a citizen of The United Kingdom of Great Britain AND Northern Ireland.


  • billypilgrim1

    You think it means “whatever I randomly decide”.

    Apparently you don’t know what it means…

  • billypilgrim1

    Great post Roger.

    Those who say that NI works, or that there’s a strong economic justification for not changing the status quo, are historically illiterate.

  • billypilgrim1

    India used to be British.

    It was a long-running gag on It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, when Rangi Ram used to talk about ‘We British…’

    Botswana used to be British. Malaya used to be British. New York City used to be British.

    The Britishness you’re talking about is a fragile, provisional thing. It’s the kind that departs as the Last Post is played and the flag comes down.

    It’s not good for you, to stake so much of your very sense of yourself on something so contingent. It magnifies even small, insignificant issues into existential ones.

    Your Britishness just doesn’t seem like any way to live.

    One day either you or your descendants will give your Irishness another shot, and you’ll be contented then.

  • john millar

    In my travels in GB people were English Scottish Welsh (On occasion Cornish ) Then they were Brummies Scousers Geordies etc — British? –don`t think I ever heard it.
    It appears that only in NI are people British first and NotIrish second.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Completely agree.

    It is somewhat strange isn’t it that the only people in the UK not born in Great Britain are the ones that use the description the most?

    It’s obvious why they do, but it is another cause of friction.

    Insisting on being referred to by the description used for the people who live in another country and referring to their neighbours as Irish is hardly conducive to good relations.

    Mind you, NI is probably one of the only places in the world where describing someone as a ‘ lets get alongist ‘ is viewed as an insult.

    Most of us quite like to ‘get along’ with people of other persuasions, but each to their own I suppose.

  • NotNowJohnny

    ‘Your Britishness”.

    I don’t identify as British and, as far as I am aware, have never claimed to be British.

    By all means participate but try to keep up.

  • NotNowJohnny

    You need to invest in a better dictionary.

  • Roger

    Oh sorry. I read that wrong.

  • NotNowJohnny

    It would be helpful if you would actually provide your own definition of ‘British’ and ‘Britain’ as you seem to be determined to ignore the dictionary definitions. We could then be clear on what you are referring to when you use such terms.

    I would also suggest that (what you say is) the “state’s reason for separating those from NI from those from GB on the passport” is not because “they are from different parts of the U.K.” but rather that the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” happens to be the name of the state and has nothing whatsoever to do with the state separating anything.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Well, let me be as helpful as I can then.

    If someone claims to be British with no prefix or suffix, then I assume that they were born somewhere on the island or adjacent islands that make up the island and more or less autonomous regions known as Great Britain.

    On the other hand, if they were not actually from the island/islands officially known as Great Britain, then whilst I am perfectly willing to accept that they are a British citizen and also prepared to believe that they love Britain with all their soul, I do not regard them as ‘British’ in the full meaning of the word.

    How could they be?

    They weren’t born in Britain, they were born elsewhere and therefore have a connection to another place which those of us born in Britain don’t have other than by blood.

    I for instance hold an Irish passport and had an Irish mother, but I’m not Irish, neither am I English because of the mixed blood.

    I am however British, I was born in Great Britain, how could I not be?

    You on the other hand, if you were born in NI, are a British citizen but not ‘British’.

    You are not the same as someone born in GB, how could you be?

    There has to be a difference.

    The name of the state is ‘ The United Kingdom ‘ in order to make it plain it sometimes includes the description of the constituent parts, which happen to currently include an enclave not in Great Britain.

    The description on the passport and other official documentation which specifies ‘Great Britain and Northern Ireland ‘ is for clarification.

    It explains that the passport does not just apply to people from Great Britain, it also applies to those from Northern Ireland which is in another country.

    Hopefully you find that helpful, don’t hesitate to ask for further clarification.

  • NotNowJohnny

    First of all let me acknowledge the efforts you have made to provide clarification. I think this is more of an explanation than a definition. As I think I said previously it is fine for one to have one’s own understanding/definition of what ‘British’ means but I think it is unreasonable to expect/require others to adhere to your understanding rather than the dictionary definition as Jollyraj appeared to be doing.

    As regards the name of the state I can do no more than quote you from the first article of the Union with Ireland Act 1800 which set out the name of the new state. (‘Ireland’ subsequently became ‘Northern Ireland’ to reflect the departure of the Irish free state.)

    “That it be the first Article of the Union of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland, that the said Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland shall, upon the first Day of January which shall be in the Year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and one, and for ever after, be united into one Kingdom, by the Name of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; and that the Royal Stile and Titles appertaining to the Imperial Crown of the said United Kingdom and its Dependencies, and also the Ensigns, Armorial Flags and Banners thereof, shall be such as his Majesty, by his Royal Proclamation under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom, shall be pleased to appoint.”

  • Anglo-Irish

    You are aware that by quoting the act of union you are proving my point don’t you?

    In every instance Ireland is referred to as a separate entity, which is my point, Ireland is not a part of GB.

    Part of Ireland is currently still in the UK but that can be changed by the stroke of a pen.

    Meanwhile GB is Irelands neighbour to the east.

    As John Millar pointed out in another post people in GB itself invariably describe themselves by whichever one of the three countries of the island they come from.

    Simply saying that you’re British isn’t precise enough, it requires further clarification so people cut to the chase and use their country as their identifier.

    The NI situation is completely weird to outsiders, coming from a family that has lived in Ireland for generations some people still refer to themselves by the name of the island their ancestors came from.

    This refusal to accept their connection with Ireland is alienating and if I were a member of the NI CN community I would find it insulting.

    If someone said ” I’m Irish but I believe that we should remain in the UK ” I would accept their opinion and have no problem with them, other than pointing out that I believe the opposite of course!

    I’m sure that a lot of unionists do take that view and no doubt they will be the ones who accept democratic change as and when it happens.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I always did get your point, my issue was that your definition of ‘British’ was merely your own definition, not an officially recognised one. I don’t think anyone ever suggested that Ireland was part of Great Britain. That would have been clear from my first response which provided the definition of Great Britain.

    However I now note that you now seem to be avoiding any reference to the name of the state so I conclude that you now accept that the official name of the sovereign state we live in is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

  • Anglo-Irish

    When have I ever disputed the ‘ And Northern Ireland ‘ part?

    That’s my point, ‘And Northern Ireland ‘ is the bit that proves that the ‘Great Britain ‘ doesn’t apply to people from NI.

    If it did then the passport would look a lot more aesthetically pleasing as UK and GB would be all that was required.

    As NI is still in the UK it is included in the description and its inclusion shows that Great Britain isn’t applicable as far as NI people are concerned.

    Therefore referring to yourself as ‘British’ is incorrect.

    What do you do when asked what part of Britain you come from and when you say Northern Ireland it is correctly pointed out to you that NI doesn’t form a part of Britain?

    People from NI are Irish with an entitlement to British citizenship if they wish it and also an entitlement to ignore that and hold an Irish passport if they so wish.

    Or indeed both, which I believe is becoming more popular!

  • NotNowJohnny

    I really hope I’m not playing the man here (rather than the ball) but I am rather exasperated by the fact that your responses appear to take no account whatsoever of what has previously been written to the extent that I find it almost impossible to follow the discussion.

  • Anglo-Irish

    As my only contention on this thread was to point out the fact that Ireland and Great Britain are two different entities, I see no reason as to why you should be confused, exasperated or in any other way disturbed.

    My original post was a reply to Jollyraj who had posted that NI was a ‘little corner of Britain ‘.

    I pointed out that he was incorrect in that statement and that whilst it is currently a little corner of the UK it is not – nor has it ever been – in Britain or Great Britain.

    It is in fact a ‘little corner of Ireland ‘. and there is no particular discussion to follow, as it’s a fact and that’s an end to it.