Nationalists and unionists need to discard their illusions about Brexit. The gap is dangerously wide.

We begin with two different  views of the impact of Brexit in Northern Ireland;  from first, the historian and Irish Times columnist Diarmaid Ferriter, contrasted later with DUP MP Nigel Dodds.

In 1998, at the time of the endorsement of the Belfast Agreement, Fintan O’Toole observed that “Northern Ireland is now a place that is arguably unique – a place that nobody claims and nobody owns, a place that is free to become whatever its people can agree that they want it to be”.

The problem now is that such freedom has been denied.

It also remains to be seen what impact it will have on the 1998 Belfast Agreement, which includes the assertions that “it would be wrong to make any change in the status of Northern Ireland save with the consent of a majority of its people.

And that recognition will be given to the right “of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose, and accordingly confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both governments and would not be affected by any future change in the status of Northern Ireland”.

Fintan O’Toole, quoted favourably by Ferriter plainly exaggerates the extent of Northern Ireland as Utopia ( the land of nowhere).

Their argument is that Irish citizenship confers EU citizenship on northerners who opt for it. Removing it by Brexit is therefore in breach of the GFA.

But is this right?  It is indeed true that under the GFA and the 1998 NI Act, northerners are regarded as Irish citizens and are accorded British citizenship rights. There may be grounds for grievance when these rights are withdrawn. But look at it another way. How could they continue applying to some northern citizens and not for others within the territory of Northern Ireland?  The constituency has to be the state. And the state remains the UK.

But should not the Republic have been consulted about the referendum in advance? Perhaps, but what could they have said except please don’t?  As one sovereign government to another, they could not have – and would not have – argued for the North to have a veto or an exemption from the vote.  By the same law of states, the Republic chose to join the euro and the UK didn’t.

What about the “status” referred to above? Status here means legal status.   As the Belfast High Court found, that status applies only to the constitutional status of remaining within the UK or joining the Republic and does not extend beyond it to create an autonomous community entirely in charge of its own destiny. Neither unionists nor nationalists want their future to be an autonomous region. They want to belong to a bigger entity.

True Northern Ireland’s political conditions are subject to intergovernmental partnership but that is a different matter.

Do these arguments seem too pedantic and against the spirit of the GFA?  To an extent. The partners sealed the GFA deal against the background of EU membership neither side contemplated leaving. But the risk was always there. Had they wanted to guard against it they should have tried to opt for some form of joint sovereignty. But the unionists would never have bought it and the Irish would probably not have been ready to shoulder the front line responsibility.

Contrast the Ferriter case with the DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds  in the FT (£). Dodds I believe is the DUP’s main ideologue for Leave.

 The UK has voted to leave but that does not mean Anglo-Irish relations are poisoned…..

The EU neither brought peace to Northern Ireland nor obstructed it: it was, and is, irrelevant to whether or not violence is employed by a small minority rather than constitutional politics. Given the trauma of the Troubles, it is irresponsible to conflate peace with EU membership.

On a practical level, the commonality of British and Irish borders is based on pragmatic political friendship. By agreement, the British provide effective air defence for the Irish, so deepening existing information-sharing protocols is just further good work. Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are friends; we work together; we can each choose which multilateral bodies to be members of…..

The border is in the mind of those who want cynically and recklessly to exploit it. The facts on the ground are the proof of the good relations we have built together. Brexit means for Ireland only what Brussels wants to inflict, and only what Ireland wants to accept. We wish our neighbour well.

Nigel Dodds chooses to ignore the Remain majority and comes across as a hard Brexiteer. He seems to regard the physical border as a problem solved. He is silent on vital matters such as access to the single market, the continuation of the customs union, the impact of Brexit on the already slow development of north-south economic development and the problems of growing divergence. He gives an implied welcome to Brexit to differentiate the north from the south in a nevertheless good neighbourly relationship. Although he is decisively in a minority in his own region, he is placing majority unionism in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1922 in synch with the unionism of England. So he would say (quietly I presume)  –one up to unionists.

While all this is mightily unpalatable to nationalists who are feeling ominously disempowered, they should not regard Brexit as the litmus test for maintaining the Good Friday Agreement. The real test is to develop it significantly as the UK withdraws from the EU, including the option of exploring special status which is no threat to the Union.


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  • file

    This is where you have taken my point: “The UK won’t be bound the way it is now to respect rights flowing from EU citizenship.” So, according to your way of saying things, in a post-brexit NI I will still have my EU citizenship rights, I just all not be allowed to exercise all of them. That is my point: 2 types of EU citizenship, just like (in my view) there are currently two types of irish citizenship, one with full rights they can exercise and one with full rights that they cannot exercise.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Like “[Post-modernism]… and the eclipse of those theories about 25 years ago seems to have passed you by” your apparent need to tell me how “smart” you really are reveals almost as much as the sort of “evolution has been disproved” comment a few other Unionist apologists seem to think devistatingly answers all the problems of modernity/post-modenity/post-post modernity. All I’m trying to do is open up the usually unexplored possibilities of the Agreement, rather than some bizarre game of “my dogs bigger than your dog”. Your earlier comment reveals that the whole nexis of our modern understanding of things articulated through contemporary European philosophy, critical theory, phenomonology and structuralism appears to have simply passed you by if you actually imagine that the whole base line of contemporary working thought has somehow been “eclipsed” twenty-five years ago. And, really,”pseudo-intellectial cack” has always been a pretty normative answer from all those who clearly do not want to think “outside the box” on complex issues, all rather an “every time I hear the word culture” response.

    I’m genuinely not trying to be insulting, but I’m struggling to try and address the really odd realisation that you cannot seemingly understand just how much of the Belfast Agreement was concieved as a quite layered document which employed contemporay concepts of liminality, porus boundaries and a systematic deconstruction of previously sacroscant interpretations of those “meanings” which should no longer be taken for granted, such as the old Unionist/Nationalist polarity! The wide range of academic advice which went into the document’s background employed a whole spectrum of cutting edge thought in modern philosophy and in Irish political science, led by Richard Kearney and Brendan O’Leary (remember the “Dalriada Document”), in a very sincere attempt to overcome deeply encoded local problems and grevances, which, from other comments, you appear to believe can simply be settled by a continuing Union with Britain and a constant attack of one single part of that obscene gestalt of violence which has marred our community since 1910. The almost neurotic need for Unionists to try and pin down their perceived “advantage” in the Agreement and the endless expression of this through our current institutions is very much of a piece with the DUPs mendatiously employing the petition of concern to block out frightening modernity for a few more years, and to simply reject at every opportunity any green shoot of engagement, growth or change.

    “You act as if the act of making an interpretation of a treaty like the GFA is necessarily simplistic. Not as simplistic as pretending no answer is possible or that all answers are of equal value.” Robert Graves once titled a book of essays “Difficult Questions, Easy Answers” but quite a few answers are far from easy. The thinking behind the Agreement was an attempt to escape the rigidities of those knee jerk responses involving, one example, staying within the safe zones of an answer (partition) which did not even work a hundred years ago. This, and the more symplistic nationalism, have both exhausted themselves long, long ago, but when new approaches are seriously attempted we in the wee six are all so unused to thinking through other possibilities and envisaging compromise that the old standards (and flegs) simply re-surface as security blankets. While all answers are not quite of “equal value”, the sterile approach of not even looking at any of them you do not already accept, the default in Unionism since 1885, is simply a recipe for stagnation. I simply cannot see this interpretation running in Slugger that the Agreement was entirely for teh maintenence of the Uinion and the other bits were all flannel to fool “themuns” into supporting this. Looking behind the agreement at its actual sources is perhaps even more important for any growth here than simply looking one dimensionally at the Agreement itself, and certainly far more fertile than simply looking for support for some variant on “pick and mix” Unionist triumphalism at the expense of any actual complexity of purpose for the whole community. As AG says to another poster below:

    “Any many of us realise that a pro-NI strategy as opposed to a pro-British-nationalism strategy would dig the foundation away from under the feet of nationalism rather than cajole them into confrontation.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    It perhaps helps to have read the whole range of Prof Ferriter’s work which offers a complex and highly relativist and complex reappraisal of twentieth century history, rather than dismissing him on a few media soundbites you do not agree with.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The entire idea of the Agreement was to facilitate the flow of ideas in a developing pluralist society, MU, not simply to copper fasten the Union. As I’ve said above, “It perhaps helps to have read the whole range of Prof Ferriter’s work which offers a complex and highly relativist reapprasial of twentieth century history in Ireland, rather than dismissing him on a few soundbites you do not agree with.” “Complex and nuanced”, I know, are always very demanding but characterising his difficult work as “actually false and without any grounding in the words of the GFA itself” ignores the all important fact that Diarmaid is coming from an awareness of the whole range of modern thought which went into the Agreement, rather than looking at this as a complete outsider.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    BonnyOC have you looked at Brendan O’Leary’s “Dalriada Document”?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hi AG, I’ve posted a link for BonnyOC to Brendan O’Leary’s “Dalriada Document” on this very theme. Let me know what you think.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The Great Freud’s recently “outed as rapist” nephew Clement was the shadow spokesman on NI affairs for the Liberal Party in the 1970s. Just an aside…….

  • Reader

    ted hagan: The South is proud of its status as a Republic.
    So is India. That’s got nothing to do with the Commonwealth.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Where’s the link Seaan?

  • Reader

    file: 26 county Ireland gives me a passport but does NOT give me full Irish citizen rights (e.g. I cannot vote in 26 county elections; I cannot pay taxes to 26 county government; etc.).
    Your citizenship rights are unrestricted. You just need to be a resident of Ireland (26) to exercise some of them. You won’t need a passport upgrade.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    TC, “proper leadership”:

    Such “a la outrance” action by uniformed forces were, after all, the actual models in certain quarters for the “hammering” of the naissant Civil Rights movement in 1968.

  • Reader

    So Ferriter is a historian rather than a lawyer or a politician? OK then – I might seek his opinion when the dust has settled.

  • Reader

    NotNowJohnny: Of course the point is that Northern Ireland can’t choose which multilateral bodies to be a member of. If it could it would remain a member of the EU.
    Not that we would have any more choice in a United Ireland, of course.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    OK, I’ll just post it again:

    Brendan was the advisor on power sharing for the Belfast Agreement. One of the big ironies here is that Brendan has charactersed his proposal as something which would articulate a continuation of the Union through flexibility, while most of those who have been attacking it are our local version of “British Nationalists”, as you’ve been calling them recently. But then flexibility has seldom been one of their “A” grades.

  • Reader

    lizmcneill: Nah, the UK would inflict it by failing to agree to continued free movement, thus not allowing free trade.
    You seem to assume that the EU does not have free will.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Like so many of us, Reader, he’s a very interdisciplinary historian. You really can’t look at modern Irish history without some familiarity with theory of law or politics to add to your skills now, but I’d imagine Diarmaid is simply too “knowing” to be a politician. Certainly as a first read I can highly recommend his recent “A Nation and not a Rabble: The Irish Revolution 1913-23”. Profile Books, (2015):

    Perhaps one of the most important things in the book is Diarmaid’s continious examination of the actual historiography of Twentieth Century Ireland. When writing we all examine and quote from other historians work, but his insight into the twists and nuances of the historiographic patterns is “majesterial” to my mind. The final section of the book, “Legacy and Commemoration” is perhaps one of the most important things written recently about how the events are remembered and accordingly represented through popular representations.

  • Reader

    SeaanUiNeill: Perhaps one of the most important things in the book is Diarmaid’s continious examination of the actual historiography of Twentieth Century Ireland.
    A historian who studies history books? Round here one might as well study party election leaflets – they are about as selective and significantly more topical.
    Well then. Rather than reading him after the dust has settled on Brexit; I should wait until the dust has settled and then the first generation of books on the subject has been written by more agile historians.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Reader, have you encountered “history” before? You are aware that what all historians are doing is examining accounts of things (representations of experience) which, other than our very own personal experience is all we actually have to go on. The complex manner in which these representations have been selectively used and the motivation behind this (“historiography”) is what we all work with. There are no simple “facts” sitting out there to enable some final solution to the history problem for some smart historian, and as with “equality” “truth” and “fact” is something we strive towards with what objectivity we can muster in our management of these accounts, but we know all too well will always be a relatively achieved thing.

    No, historiography is certainly far far more interesting than the “study [of] party election leaflets”, try Diarmaid’s book, its a tremendous read!!!

  • file

    but I will need a citizen upgrade … this being my point.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Yes. Interesting. Will read full thing later. Maybe it is an idea with legs?

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    It has a variety of free will but also over-riding interests and aims. These do not include making things easy for the tories.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Depends on when you step into “the room of history” murdockp. If, instead of 1921/2 you go a little further back to 1910 when the profoundly secular IPP (much loathed by the Catholic Hierarchy) were across the table and the Third Home Rule was offering a most innocious form of mild devolution, and Unionism cried a very unnecessary “Wolf” with the “Ulsteria” of its Orange “Rome Rule” rhetoric, it accordingly set in motion a chain of events where they found themselves facing a seperatist and confessional political reality which simply did not exist to that degree in 1910 when the Irish Republican Brotherhood were a tiny fringe group.

  • Skibo

    The Scots are running a very dangerous line on remain within the EU. They have to also keep a very close relationship with England as a trading nation. That could be difficult with Scotland in and England out.
    I don’t see this situation being completely in support of an independent Scotland to remain within the EU.
    One thing that might happen if the UK leaves without access to the single market could be an independent Scotland with access to the single market and England, the best of both worlds, but the trade agreement time-span would be very dangerous.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Brendan, a “Glens of Antrim” man, was one of the most significant advisors behind the Belfast Agreement, certainly in its powersharing respect. I’m vrey impressed by his suggsetion, but doubt if anyone will have the imagination needed to attempt it. I look forward to your comments!

  • Roger

    The UK certainly won’t be bound the way it is now. Ireland will be. This is a discussion about your rights as an Irish EU citizen.

    You will be allowed to exercise all your Irish derived EU rights in exactly the same way you can now post Brexit. The territorial scope of the EU will be smaller though.

    There will not be two types of EU citizenship and rights. You will simply be joining the millions of other EU citizens who live in non-EU countries.

  • Roger

    Wouldn’t work though.
    Where are there successful examples of that?
    One can see the arguments: the Irish not willing to pay the tab for a place they don’t run or perhaps vice versa for the British.
    Alienation would probably fade. I don’t think the descendants of the Unionists in Ireland feel much alienation today. But it wouldn’t be easy. Great things…

  • Roger

    That all seems a bit unfair. The Irish seceded from the UK causing the division. The British minority in the Six Counties didn’t want to.
    Ireland is one of the wealthiest states in the world with top ten per capita income etc. higher than even the UK’s. I think Ireland would look a bit silly pretending to be a “recovering” colony.

  • Roger

    Passport control and customs when crossing a land border in Western Europe isn’t the norm anymore. Schengen etc.

  • lizmcneill

    Why would the EU give the UK a better deal than any of the other countries? If the UK demands all the benefits of EU membership and none of the (perceived) downsides, why is it the EU’s fault for saying “it doesn’t work like that?”

  • lizmcneill

    If you lived in Dublin, could you vote in the Westminster election? Would that make you any less a British citizen?

  • file

    I am not a British citizen. And if my aunt was a man she would be my uncle.

  • Skibo

    Unionists who stayed in the ROI seem to have assimilated into Irish society better than Nationalists in NI into a Unionist society. Could be something to do with being wanted.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think there has to be some pragmatic inclusion and compromises to win unionists over. Remember when the SNP changed their stance on NATO?

  • Roger

    True I think.
    There would be more or less no nationalists in UKNI if they’d assimilated the way Unionists did in IRL. There are more or less no Unionists in IRL.

  • lizmcneill

    Ok, guess you’re an Irish citizen? If you moved to London, would you stop being an Irish citizen? Do you think you would be stateless? Or that you would become a British citizen? The Brexiteers would have a few things to say about that, I think….

  • eireanne3

    “Not that we would have any more choice in a United Ireland, of course”

    oh yes you would!
    if only because NI would have a much greater population weighting in a UI than in the UK

  • file

    I am an Irish citizen, but a second class, lower tier type of one. But I would still be Irish if I did not have a passport.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Could not agree more, AI.

  • Appeals to authority are all very well, but on this he is simply wrong.

    And it’s on the basis of Ferriter’s actual article in the Irish Times that I’m basing that on, not “a few media soundbites”.

    It’s telling that his ‘evidence’ presented in the article amounts to a quote from an over-excited Fintan O’Toole in 1998 over-selling the Belfast Agreement – call it flowery rhetoric – presumably for the benefit of an Irish nationalist audience.

    It’s that mis-representation that Ferriter is perpetuating here. And one that you have been doing too. Deliberately or otherwise.

  • Brian

    I realise that Ferriter’s article is simply an opinion piece. But it’s factually incorrect.

    There is no compulsion on anyone to negotiate a new understanding with a flawed premise.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Yes, pete, I’ve certainly been arguing this with some others on Slugger. Where Diarmaid is coming from is influenced by the wide range of creative thinking which went into the advisory structures for Agreement, and some of what filtered back of the discussions, as with my own reading, and I imagine Fintan’s. It is certainly not single sourced to Fintan’s article, although I’d readily agree with Fintan that settling the actual decision for sovereign control of this place on the community of Northern Ireland places it in a particular kind of liminality, certainly something different to the old Westphalian certainties. To quote yet another quote from the article:

    “Historian Ian McBride argued that the Belfast Agreement ‘clearly envisaged that Northern Ireland’s future constitutional arrangements would be worked out in the context of continuing partnership between the north and the south, and between politicians in London and Dublin. To remove Northern Ireland from Europe without its consent is not only morally wrong and politically risky; it is also a rejection of the fundamental bilateralism of the peace process’.”

    The Agreement also was conceived against a background of joint membership of the EU, with an additional layer of oversight from Brussels institutions. This was not written into the Agreement’s wording, ceertainly, but was simply a part of the mental furnature of all concerned. The exit from Europe unquestionably does alter most significantly the status of Northern Ireland from those conditions in which the Agreement was negotiated, and as Diarmaid says,

    “It also remains to be seen what impact it will have on the 1998 Belfast Agreement, which includes the assertions that ‘it would be wrong to make any change in the status of Northern Ireland save with the consent of a majority of its people’.”

    The Agreement itself “played to two audiences”, and as both appear frequently to be able to claim to have “won” in response to what you might call an “overselling”, this suggests either a deceptive structuring of the terms, a mendatious similacra of those things people believed they were voting on, or, to my mind a liminal relativeness throughout much of the document itself engendered by the more “out of the box” contributions by innovative thinkers such as Richard Kearney and Brendan O’Leary. Certainly in a world where states surrender or pool aspects of national sovereignty for trade and international security, there was a strong implication of pooled sovereign responsibility in the institutions of the Agreement and in the liminality implicit in that right of citizens in the north “to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both”. Clearly, Britain is not actually acceptingin any meaningful sense the “Irishness” of quite a number of us if we are legally foreigners living in the place of our birth, and this has implications too for any future status of the British here in any future reunification. The dissing of teh kind of liminality which was intended with suchassertions may very well be morgaging the status of future generations for an immediate political advantage. One way or another, the current debate has shown up either rights to be commonly addressed, or should it reveal the issue of “empty promices” as many Unionist commentators seem to claim, then the need to further qualify those rights we all believed we were voting for.

    Of course the High Court Judgement is clear on its interpretation of limits on the terms of teh Belfast agreement, but the terms of the challenge over issue 5 are still significant for us all, north and south:

    “the Good Friday Agreement has created a substantive legitimate expectation that there would be no change in the constitutional status of NI without the consent of the people of NI.”

    While I can clearly see Mr Justice Maguire’s reductive reading of the Agreement in his judgement, I can also see the still evident gaps with regard to other provisions for those institutions which were set up to articulate mutual responsibility, especially when it is clear that his reductive “British Sovereignty” reading clearly tears through one of the intentions of the Belfast Agreement itself, where Westminster claims no “selfish interest” in the place, against teh wishes of its people. But perhaps this absence of declared interest is limited to the operation of any reunification referendum also, and in all other matters Westminster is still concerned to act as a colonial power? In this context, as Brian says below, for the purposes of continuing good faith “a new understanding” may very well need to be discussed. We might begin with Brendan O’Leary’s excellent “Dalriada Document” perhaps?

  • Anglo-Irish

    I was always under the impression that it was the minority in the six counties being unwilling to accept the democratic outcome of the 1918 Irish general election that caused the division?

  • Skibo

    I agree and believe it to be down to the fact that the setting up of the ROI was the death knell of British rule in the 26 counties. There was no going back.
    In the North there was always a possibility, however slim of the six reuniting with the 26 and as such Nationalism and Republicanism will always survive in the wee six.

  • Skibo

    Kevin there has to be a discussion about what can be offered Unionism to bring about reunification but until they are prepared to listen, is there any point in talking?
    The one thing that may bring about such a discussion would be when Unionist representation in Stormont drops below 50%.

  • Roger

    Is Spain a democratic country? It doesn’t permit its parts to split off. Nor does USA. Remember their Civil War? Nor does France. Nor does Russia, China….
    One could endlessly debate whether that means they are democratic or not.
    It so happens that today the UK allows splits and in 1920s allowed quasi-splits (“dominion status”). One could argue about it but it’s not at all clear that those not backing a split and wanting no part of it aren’t “unwilling to accept democracy”.

  • Skibo

    So under your example Ireland would have the right to take up arms to repeal the splitting of the country of Ireland.
    The democracy you accept is the setting-up of a Unionist majority on a head-count. That is gerrymandering.

  • Anglo-Irish

    How many of the countries that you reference held an election which resulted in a clear and decisive victory for one side and then chose to ignore it?

    That is what I would call undemocratic and the cause of the division in Ireland.

    Had the northern based unionists accepted the result and behaved as their Free State brethren did by taking part in the administration of the country the subsequent violence would not have taken place.

    Also, the Republic may never have come into existence. What was being asked for was Home Rule, similar to what Scotland has today.

    With the increased number of unionists in the legislature Ireland would very possibly still be a member of the UK.

  • Roger

    I’m open to correction but didn’t Catalonia hold a referendum to secede not long ago where outcome was for independence? Didn’t Spanish gov ignore it and call it illegal?
    Didn’t various USA states vote for secessionists who promptly tried to secede only to be invaded by Yankee forces?
    China…Taiwan province.
    Should I go on further?

  • Roger

    I’m not with you. I didn’t say anything like that. I spoke favorably of UK liberality as regards letting its bits split off.

  • billypilgrim1

    “The Irish seceded from the UK causing the division. The British minority in the Six Counties didn’t want to.’

    Clearly unionism and nationalism will never agree on this. These are readings of history rooted in ideology, and a desire to blame the other. They’re both completely unassailable from either direction, regardless of the facts or arguments presented.

    It also doesn’t really matter any more, who had the moral high ground in 1921. The question that matters is: whose vision for the future proved to be better for we the people?

    In this respect, there really isn’t the slightest question.

    A century ago, the Protestants of Ulster tied their colours to the mast of unionism. It would have taken remarkable vision and wisdom and moral courage at the time for them to have done otherwise.

    They did what they thought was playing safe. This was neither an unreasonable nor an immoral position (although much of their behaviour was both) but it can’t really be denied that they were catastrophically wrong. I suspect if Carson (and even Craig) knew what the century ahead had in store, they’d resile from their unionism in a heartbeat.

    The Republic of Ireland is proof of the wisdom of nationalism. Northern Ireland since its inception is proof of the error of unionism.

  • Anglo-Irish

    No you really shouldn’t, not unless you can actually come up with a situation which is actually comparable.

    Catalonia held an unofficial self organised poll which wasn’t recognised by Spain.

    The other places you mention rebelled against states which they felt had no right to impose their sovereignty on them.

    The 1918 Irish general election was an official election recognised by Westminster right up until it came up with the ‘wrong’ result.

    Do you have any examples of countries arranging official democratic elections and then disregarding the result when it didn’t suit?

    In addition have you ever heard the expression ” Two wrongs don’t make a right “?

    If you did manage to find another travesty of justice comparable to the 1918 inequity, in what way would it alter the fact that it was the unionist refusal to accept the democratic will of the people of Ireland that caused the division in the country?

  • Anglo-Irish

    We keep hearing this mantra from the unionist side ” What are nationalists going to do to make it attractive to us ? ”

    In a United Ireland people who regard themselves as Unionists now will have a significant presence in the political life of the country.

    The PR+STV voting system will ensure that their wishes are represented in proportion to their numbers, which is far more than their current position within the UK.

    In other words they will receive even handed fairness.

    What else could anyone want?

    Additionally they will become part of a successful progressive nation which has proven that it can handle itself in the great big world out there.

    So what I’d like to know is what exactly do you want?

    Other than being treat as an equal and having the same opportunities as everyone else in the country to prosper what else are you looking for?

    Turning the question around what exactly is it that unionists intend to bring to the arrangement?

    What ‘added value ‘ do you have to offer?

  • Roger

    Haven’t the Catalonians like the Irish in 1918 elected a majority of separatists to represent them. Surely the only difference is they took an additional step of holding a poll. That doesn’t take from their having elected separatists to represent them.
    The elections pre US civil war were democratic by the world standards of the time too.
    The Irish really aren’t so unique as you make out.

  • Roger

    Aside from not being not so sure about the unimportance of high moral ground, I don’t much disagree with all that. Being a very marginal leftover of the UK isn’t the best position to be in. Objectively. As the Brexit stuff may well highlight. And as the economics of the near century gone by. That’s my opinion. Others would disagree.

  • Anglo-Irish

    No, the difference is that the British Government approved an official General Election in 1918 and then renegade on the outcome.

    Everyone is unique, and only the seriously obtuse are unaware of that fact.

  • Roger

    A Government approved general election was called in the UK in 1918. In the former Ireland, a majority of separatists were elected.
    A Governmebt approved general election was called in Spain in 2015. In Catalonia, a majority of separatists were elected.
    Have I missed something? What’s the difference?
    What did the UK renege on? Are you saying they’d promised the “Irish Republic”? That’s what the separatists were demanding.

  • John Collins

    Where was the liberalism,. The Brits only conceded a limited freedom after a bloody war.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Apparently yes, you have missed something.

    The 1918 Irish general election was nationwide and fought on a Home Rule basis.
    It resulted in an overwhelming victory for Sinn Fein.

    The Spanish Government had refused for years to allow a referendum on Catalan independence, the 2015 elections in Catalonia were regional elections.

    See the difference?

    A country which was accepted to be a separate entity and acknowledged as such in all official documentation votes overwhelmingly for Home Rule.

    A region of a country elects pro independence politicians to represent them in an effort to gain independence in the future.

    Catalonia still has a long way to go, I wish them well.

    Ireland should have been granted Home Rule back in 1918 and a whole tragedy could have been avoided.

    It was unionist intransigence that caused the problem and it continues to do so up until the present day although its influence is waning as time goes by.

  • Skibo

    Rodger, probably a bit devious on my part. You mentioned the civil war in USA where the USA did not allow the southern states to break away.
    Can that be used to rationalise the right of the 26 counties to demand the 6 counties to be returned?
    Spain does not permit division within Spain yet Ireland is expected to accept division within Ireland.
    The UK was a union of four countries pre 1921. The UK demanded Ireland be split to appease Unionism and gerrymander the setting up of a false state with a Unionist inbuilt majority.

  • Roger

    I can certainly agree that all sides can make arguments.

    But the former Ireland was a UK region like Catalonia today. It wasn’t a sovereign state like Spain today. Your comparison is a poor one.

  • Roger

    Granted they weren’t as liberal then (former Ireland) as they are now (Scotland). But their attitude was rather more liberal than that taken by many other states. Examples: Spain, USA, Russia, China etc. They did permit present day Ireland “dominion status” which wasn’t far off full independence.

  • Skibo

    Points of law have been created on lesser arguments.
    Ireland did have a parliament previous to the 1798 rebellion. One Parliament and not two. It was one country. The Act of Union in 1801 merged the Kingdom of Ireland with the Kingdom of Britain to make the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. No mention of Northern Ireland.
    The Act of Union failed in Ireland at the first attempt but passed on the second following the buying off with peerages and other trinkets. As with Scotland was bought and sold for English gold.

  • billypilgrim1

    “Others would disagree.”

    To be honest, I have my doubts about that. There’s precious little scope for disagreement when the observable facts are so overwhelming. Unionists will of course affect to disagree but I’m not at all sure they really mean it in their heart of hearts.

  • Skibo

    BP don’t be so quick to check Rodger. It was not till the Celtic Tiger took hold that the ROI started to steam ahead. Previous to that the argument on reunification was that we couldn’t afford to keep the 26 counties. Now it is that the 26 counties cannot afford to keep us. There will always be discrepancies between the two sides of the border but the vision of the ROI, to look past the UK into Europe and further afield has allowed them to move on. We are still stuck to the apron strings of the Westminster.
    I believe Rodger is starting to see the advantage of possibly breaking that link especially with Brexit and the big freeze that is imminent.

  • billypilgrim1

    It’s true that it has only been in the last couple of decades that the disparities north and south have become overwhelming and undeniable, but the different trajectories go much further back. Indeed the north would have sunk and the south risen much faster but for the little matter of the second world war.

    By now though, it has become impossible to obscure the fact that supporting partition and the union means sacrificing the wellbeing of your children and grandchildren on the altar of your own prideful defiance.

  • Skibo

    That we have to hope will become much more obvious as Brexit progresses. In the mean time we need the Nationalist parties in Ireland to produce a framework to the future unified island. It has to move from a possibility to a probability. Here is the path, this is what it will look like and here is what it will cost.