Getting beyond the Unification question?

Roy Garland argues that there are more ways than one for the peoples of Ireland to get together than out and out political unification of the island. Already the Council of the Isles , he argues, “has the capacity to transcend petty squabbles and usher in a new era of goodwill and cooperation on an unprecedented scale. Northern Ireland as a political entity can continue to exist, but in a dynamic relationship with an Irish state and a devolved Great Britain”.

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122 thoughts on “Getting beyond the Unification question?”

  1. ‘Isolationist Irishness’

    Is that the same as Isolationist Indianness, as they too didn’t really like being part of the empire?

  2. Chris

    Oddly enough this ‘innovation’ the
    ‘divine right of kings ‘ was apparently introduced to the newly chrisitianised Kings of post Roman empire Europe by Irish Missionaries . The tie in God helped to increase ‘political stability’ and also gave the Irish ‘missionaries’ more clout at court . Eventually the new Kings in time realised they could get cheaper God consultation services from their local clergy than the ‘expensive’ Irish 🙂

  3. Chris & CC

    ‘The architects of the British-Irish council did say they hoped a local version of “Scandinavia” or “the Nordics” might arise which captures the geography without the idea of ownership

    I’d have no problem with a UI being part of such a structure . Neither would I have a problem with a common island defense policy . We Irish I’m sure accept that the UK has a legitimate interest in protecting it’s western approaches ‘ The Irish Defence Forces can benefit from closer ties with the UK and NATO.

  4. Are you reading my mind Greenflag? That would be an amazing breakthrough and I’ve not heard it put so well.

    Some uncharitable person is going to say that that it’s about 60 years and 45,000 Norweigian merchant sailor deaths too late but I would not be one of them. The old “say you’re neutral, send troops” approach in 1939-45 was clearly the best policy if you could get away with it and I don’t knwo what the strategic importance of the west coast might have been vs the northern approaches.

    An IDF which could combine with the Rangers, Guards and Hussars, soemehow retaining their regimental histories and which would then maintain committments to Nato (and thereby mutual defence of aunties, uncles, cousins etc across the water), would, I hazard, be key to winning the respect of the sort of undecided prod who will determine whether a UI occurs peacefully in our time or is a problem we leave for our children.

    I’ll swap you that, membership of the Commonwealth (subject of course to committment that the UK monarchy’s involvement ends with E2’s demise), and a Nordics Style Brettan Council (housed at the otherwise redundant Stormont?) for a wholehearted committment to Irish unity, independence, integrated education, and restoration of the Irish language across the Island (with Ulster-Scots as an available alternative so some-one can tell us what Rabbie Burns was on about). I’ll even try and learn some Ulster-Irish meself.

  5. “Here’s a little secret. Those who vote for the IRA’s political proxies kinda fall into the camp of “IRA loving supporters”. Now maybe I am wrong!”

    “Maybe?” It wasn’t until long after the IRA ceasefire that SF came anywhere near eclipsing the SDLP as the main nationalst party. The majority of people who defected to SF only felt comfortable doing so after the violence stopped.

    “Oh, and Eamon, if you want to keep up to date with my thoughts – visit A TANGLED WEB – it’s much more interesting than even The Lurgan Mail.”

    I don’t need to keep “up to date” with your thoughts, David. They haven’t changed one iota since your one-man letter writing campaign to the paper on behalf of some obscure branch of the Bob McCartney Party, when you tried to pass yourself off as some sort of elected official, and the day you were shown up in front of the whole town when someone wrote in advising you to “set down your pen and pick up a life.” I don’t think you ever knew how many people got a good laugh out of that one.

  6. ‘Are you reading my mind Greenflag? That would be an amazing breakthrough and I’ve not heard it put so well.’

    Yes I’ve got highly developed powers of extra sensory perception or so my astrologer tells me 🙂

    Chris it’s a deal:) Couple of points . Restoration of Irish would be too ambitious . The best most realistic language enthusiasts can hope for is for it to retain it’s present status and perhaps become more widely spoken as a first and second language . An add on to a broader and more inclusive view of Irishness if you like and would keep us from being entirely swamped by the Anglo American world
    .
    After E2 the Irish President becomes Head of State and the Irish Senate moves to Belfast . Ireland rejoins the Commonwealth .

    And the job as they say is OXO 🙂

    Now that did’nt take long did it ?

  7. ‘and thereby mutual defence of aunties, uncles, cousins etc across the water), would, I hazard, be key to winning the respect of the sort of undecided prod who will determine whether a UI occurs peacefully in our time or is a problem we leave for our children.’

    Excellent point Chris . Not enough noise is made about the large number of people of Irish origin and descent who are UK citizens and living in England, Scotland and Wales . Estimates vary but there could be as many as 5 to 6 million people of first and second generation in the above countries . Irish Republicans in their drive for a UI forget that ‘security’ is a very real fear for many people and particulary for British Unionists and indeed Irish Nationalists in NI . The integration or close alliance of the IDF and the BA would improve everybody’s security both North and South .

  8. Biffo

    ‘Based on the research Irish is older than Welsh, because Welsh shares fundamental linguistic innovations that happened on mainland Europe with languages like Latin that never occured with Irish, or so I’m told.’

    The Irish were the first people in Europe after the Greeks and Romans to have a written alphabet/language etc . Irish is believed to have common Celtic roots with Welsh going back 2500 years or more . Irish numerals follow the normal Indo European-Latinate pattern and quite a few Irish words derive from Latin e’g Scriobh (Schkreeve) from Scribo (to write) Saggart (priest) from Sacerdos (Sacred) etc etc

    . I’m no linguistics expert but I believe Irish did take on some structural elements of the pre Celtic languages which existed in Ireland and Britain . Scots Gaelic was the same language as Irish until the mid 17th century from which time it diverged . However speakers of Donegal Irish can even today more easily understand Scots Gaelic than Munster (Cork/Kerry) Irish .

  9. “Excellent point Chris . Not enough noise is made about the large number of people of Irish origin and descent who are UK citizens and living in England, Scotland and Wales”

    How many Irish people born before 1949 have British subject status?

    Approximately 165,000 claims to retain British subject status have been made since 1949, with about 2,500 claims being made each year in the 1990s. There are no figures on how many of these people are still alive, but it is likely to be at least half of the above number. There is no information available on how many of these are living in Southern Ireland as opposed to elsewhere.

    How many Irish people living in Britain take out British citizenship?

    Currently about 100 Irish citizens per year (including children) are naturalised or registered as British citizens each year. During the 1960s this was about 700 per year, but has gradually reduced since then.

    http://www.reform.org/TheReformMovement_files/article_files/articles/citizenship.htm

  10. Sorry to check you Greenflag but this would mean you couldn’t be Danish, Norweigian or Swedeish either. Not sure about the Netherlands.

    No problem Chris . I’m happy enough to be Dub 🙂 No reflection on any of the above or the British either 🙂 They would all probably rate very high in my alternative preferences below American or Australian 🙂

    ‘These peoples had to put the authority somewhere when they decided they couldn’t go along with the whole intercession of priests / infallibility of popes / papal endorsement of kings = divine right of kings / got to do everything in Latin, thing so they put it with prod monarchs. ‘

    Yes I understand . Had I been around at the time I’d have supported Martin Luther too 🙂

    ‘totally outdated now of course.’

    Indeed but it brings in a few tourist dollars .

    ‘I believe there are healthy debates in the Nordics as in UK about disestablishment.’

    It’s their business . I’m not one to throw out tradition simply because it’s politically correct’ . I’m an anti monarchist but not of the Madame Guillotine variety

  11. Congal Claen

    ‘Ptolemy is quite clear that Ireland – he calls it Hibernia – belongs to the group he calls Britannia. He entitles Book II, Chapter 1 of his Geography as Hibernia, Island of Britannia’

    Bretons, or Clets then were the majority in Britain, with close cultural connections to Irish celts but then there was invasions fron Angles, Saxons etc which altered Britain drastically.
    When we talk of UK economy,foreign policy, culture etc, we talk of Anglo-Saxon methods. Ireland did not have such an influx of this. Hence, there are differences that have not been ‘fostered’ and your analysis is dis-ingenuous

  12. ‘Isolationist Irishness’

    Is that the same as Isolationist Indianness, as they too didn’t really like being part of the empire?

  13. Chris

    Oddly enough this ‘innovation’ the
    ‘divine right of kings ‘ was apparently introduced to the newly chrisitianised Kings of post Roman empire Europe by Irish Missionaries . The tie in God helped to increase ‘political stability’ and also gave the Irish ‘missionaries’ more clout at court . Eventually the new Kings in time realised they could get cheaper God consultation services from their local clergy than the ‘expensive’ Irish 🙂

  14. Chris & CC

    ‘The architects of the British-Irish council did say they hoped a local version of “Scandinavia” or “the Nordics” might arise which captures the geography without the idea of ownership

    I’d have no problem with a UI being part of such a structure . Neither would I have a problem with a common island defense policy . We Irish I’m sure accept that the UK has a legitimate interest in protecting it’s western approaches ‘ The Irish Defence Forces can benefit from closer ties with the UK and NATO.

  15. G2,

    Your figures are misleading . There were in the 1970’s at least 1,000,000 living in England , Scotland and Wales who were born in Ireland the vast majority would have been from the Republic or the earlier Irish Free State . Those born before 1949 would have been able to acquire a British passport without ever having to ‘naturalise’ and thus are left out of your numbers . Those Irish people born after 1949 who emigrated to the UK would have been able to obtain Irish Passports and thus would also be ‘missing’ from your figures. There has always been Irish migration to the UK since the mid 18th century. Considering first and second generation Irish and their children a figure of 5 million would not be far off .

    The 169,000 you refer to extends over a 56 year period and presumably refers to people in the Irish Republic . Such a figure is not surprising when you consider there are at least approx 150,000 British ‘subjects ‘ currently working and living in the Irish Republic and although many of these are ‘new’ British there has always been a number of British people living and working in the Irish Republic , the earlier Free State and before Irish independece.

    If you were trying to make any ‘point’ in your post I think you might want to ‘elucidate’ for the figures you post are not to any degree a reflection of the true ‘human ‘ traffic ‘ between both islands .

  16. Greenflag,

    There were some 2-3 million Irish citizens living in UK before 1949. But they all didn’t rush out to get a British passport. once Ireland declared it was to become a republic. They were automaticlly allowed dual nationality. and likewise were intitled to vote in both countries.at election times.

    Most people only buy a passport when they want to travel to another country. They dont buy one to prove one way or another what nationality they are.

    Any Irish citizen (born in the ROI after 1949) but now living in the UK for five years can claim British citizenship, and apply for a UK passport. Most irish citizens get irish passports even if they live in the UK. All they do is go to their embassy and apply for one.

    This thing about British or Irish nationality is strictly a Norn iron political Unionist or Republican obsession.

    An English, Scottish, or Welsh person who holds a British Passport will tell you Im English, Scottish or Welsh before he/she would say Im British.

    Only Norn Iron Unionists call themselves *ULSTER/man/woman or *BRITISH* because they politically and culturally deplore using the term *NORTHERN IRISH*.

    The name The state of *NORTHERN IRELAND* was not of their own choosing.it was given to them by the British Government.

  17. “Considering first and second generation Irish and their children a figure of 5 million would not be far off”

    I would agree, but most of these people who live in the UK would not class themselves as strictly Irish anymore than the 50 million American citizens decended from emigration over the last century.

  18. ‘Most people only buy a passport when they want to travel to another country. They dont buy one to prove one way or another what nationality they are. ‘

    Indeed and in the period 1920 through 1960 most emigrants to the UK and indeed Irish and British citizens/subjects generally would not have held a passport most likely .

    ‘This thing about British or Irish nationality is strictly a Norn iron political Unionist or Republican obsession.’

    True enough . It goes with the rest of their ‘obsessions’

    ‘!Only Norn Iron Unionists call themselves *ULSTER/man/woman or *BRITISH* because they politically and culturally deplore using the term *NORTHERN IRISH*.’

    Fair enough but the majority of the inhabitants of Ulster’s nine counties see themselves as Ulstermen and Irish so using ‘Ulster’ as an identity tag would be a misnomer ?

    ‘The name The state of *NORTHERN IRELAND* was not of their own choosing.it was given to them by the British Government.’

    What did they want it to be called then ? North West Finchley ? North West Burnley/Wigan/Lancashire /Cumberland ??? or something colonially exotic like Carsonia ? Craigmania ? Orangia ? Very very very very very South West Argyll ?????

  19. ‘I would agree, but most of these people who live in the UK would not class themselves as strictly Irish anymore than the 50 million American citizens decended from emigration over the last century.’

    I never stated they would . I just pointed out they were of Irish origin

  20. “Considering first and second generation Irish and their children a figure of 5 million would not be far off”

    I would agree, but most of these people who live in the UK would not class themselves as strictly Irish anymore than the 50 million American citizens decended from emigration over the last century.

  21. Greenflag
    I’d have been quite happy with “West Britain”

    BTW When blogging, how about keeping it short? If you want to write a dissertation , do a degree. The rest of us want to slag each other off.

  22. Hi Greenflag, Biffo, Slackjaw et al,

    First of all, thanks for all your replies. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many replies to anything I’ve posted before – I must make more controversial statements. Secondly, please accept my apologies for being so late to reply but I took a long weekend from Thursday lunchtime on.

    Many of you made similar points so I’ll address them as a group rather than as replies to individuals…

    Regarding my claim of a long association with the term of British for these isles I had various replies…

    “That’s an opinion based purely on ignorance of the origin of the word British and how it’s meaning has changed over (a very long) time. (Yes, I did read your Wikipedia quote – it’s poor)”

    “Nonsense CC.”

    “Are you really suggesting that it would be accurate for a scholar to refer to the population living in the west of Ireland as Britons throughout the millenia? It wouldn’t even be accurate to refer to them as Britons at any point of your choosing in history.”

    I notice not one person actually gives an argument challenging what I’ve said. So, what is actually incorrect in what I’ve said. Did I misquote any of the sources? Were any of the translations incorrect? Did the authors of the quotes make any mistakes? My favourite retort tho’ was the last one – mentioning scholar. Not only would it have been correct for them to do so, I named 4 scholars who actually did. One of whom, Ptolemy, is one of the most famous of all classical scholars. BTW, I use Wikipedia as I consider it to be independent as regards our biased discussions.

    After my challenge to “name one Country with a majority of Catholics that has a sizeable Protestant minority?” many of you took up the challenge. I think most of you missed the sentence before this were I mention “as other countries in Europe”. To put my challenge in context, I was talking about the religious wars that waged through Europe and was comparing this to the treatment of Irish Catholics. I would still contend that the treatment of Irish Catholics, although not justified, was no worse than that handed out to other religions in Europe at that time.

    In response to me saying…“Isolationist Irishness has only existed for about a century.”
    Someone said…”Not even a century CC”. How disappointing this must be for “Ourselves Alone” in their centenary year!

    Also, in response to… “Far more people emigrated from England to the US than from Ireland. Were the English anti-English as well?”, someone responded “Wrong again Congal” and mentioned that there were more German and Irish imigrants. Sorry, but I’m afraid it’s you who is wrong. See below from Wikipedia (I know you all respect it afterall)…

    “In the 2000 Census, 57.6 million Americans reported British ancestry. These include:
    • 24.5 million English
    • 20.6 million American (the overwhelming majority of those who answered “American” as their ancestry are of British ancestry)
    • 4.9 million Scottish
    • 4.3 million Scotch-Irish (Ulster)
    • 1.7 million Welsh
    • 1 million British (answered “British” as ancestry on the Census)
    • 600,000 Canadian (the overwhelming majority of those who answered “Canadian” as their ancestry are of British ancestry)
    These figures make British Americans the largest ethnic group in the U.S. when counted collectively (although the Census Bureau does not count them collectively, as each of the above is a separate ethnic group i.e. English or Scottish).The Germans and Irish are the largest self-reported ethnic groups in the nation but British ancestry is considered the most common by experts.”

    Hi Slackjaw,
    “I was thinking more about what you see as the most important elements of your identity, for you personally, apart from those which arise from anthropological/geographical designations?”
    I specifically mentioned I regard myself as British in an anthropological/geographical sense as I don’t consider nationhood to have existed until relatively recently. There wasn’t a British nation 1000s of years ago. Much as there wasn’t an Irish one. However, the term “British” was around in those times and was applied to both Britain and Ireland in a geographical and people sense. First and foremost I consider myself British because of blood ties – 1 Welsh Grandmother, 1 English Grandfather, 1 Catholic Irish Grandfather and 1 Protestant Irish Grandmother. Therefore I consider myself to be a complete mix of the British Isles. I’m sure if most people checked their family lineage they would find similar mixing. For example, Gerry Adams and John Hume both have planter surnames, so it’s almost certain they have some English/Scottish blood in them. Other reasons I consider myself British – the language I speak, the sport I watch, the football teams I support (how come Irish republicans are so keen on that great British team Celtic?), the music I listen to, the TV I watch, the pub culture I enjoy, the sense of humour I share, etc, etc. These things do not stop at the border and I believe are shared throughout the British Isles.

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