State of the Irish Nation

The Central Statistics Office have released Measuring Ireland’s Progress, 2005, leading some to say that Ireland is “racing ahead” of its European neighbours.
Others point out that the survey reveals Ireland has one of the highest risk-of-poverty rates in the EU.
The key findings listed by the CSO:

– Population has increased by almost 14% to over 4.1 million persons in the period 1996-2005. This was the second highest rate of increase in the EU.

– Life expectancy for males was 0.7 years above the EU average of 75.1 years but that for females was 0.5 years below the corresponding EU figure of 81.2 years.

– The proportion of persons aged 25-34 in Ireland with 3rd level education rose from 27.1% in 1999 to 39.2% in 2005, the fourth highest rate in the EU 25. The corresponding EU rate in 2005 was 28.5%.

– In 2004, Ireland had the second highest GDP per capita, expressed in terms of purchasing power standards within the EU. However, based on GNI, Ireland falls back to eighth place at around 16% above the EU average.

– Ireland remained one of the most successful EU states at attracting foreign investment, with direct inward investment flows representing 6% of GDP in 2004. This was over five times the corresponding Eurozone 12 figure of 1.1% of GDP. However, the 2004 figure was substantially lower than the 14.5% recorded for Ireland in 2003.

– The public balance in Ireland was significantly in surplus during the late 1990s. However, over the period 2000-2002 it decreased from a surplus of 4.4% of GDP to a deficit of 0.4% of GDP. In 2003 Ireland again showed a small surplus of 0.2% of GDP, which increased to 1.4% in 2004.

– The employment rate in Ireland rose from 55.1% in 1996 to 67.1% in 2005 which was higher than the EU rate of 63.8% in 2005. The employment rate for women in Ireland increased by almost 15 percentage points over the period, while the rate for men rose by over 9 percentage points. Productivity in Ireland, measured as GDP per person employed, was the second highest in the EU in 2004.

– The unemployment rate in Ireland increased slightly from a low point of 3.6% in 2001 to 4.2% in 2005. However, Ireland had the lowest unemployment rate in the EU in 2005 at less than half of the EU 25 average. The long-term unemployment rate was 1.4% in 2004, which was considerably better than the EU average of 4.1%.

– Ireland’s international trade competitiveness has deteriorated since 2000, mainly due to higher inflation and an appreciating euro.

– The proportion of Irish people at risk of poverty, after pensions and social transfer payments were taken into account, was 21% in 2004. This was one of the highest rates in the EU. The effect of pensions and social transfers on reducing the at-risk-of-poverty rate was low in Ireland compared with other EU countries. In 2002, social protection expenditure in Ireland was less than 16% of GDP. This was half of the rate in Sweden and the lowest of the EU 15 countries.

Other statistics in the report:

– The employment rate of persons aged 55-64 was higher than the EU average in 2004. However, only
33.7% of women in Ireland in this age group were in employment compared to 65.0% of men.

– Over 6% of men and over 7% of women in Ireland were in consistent poverty in 2004. Ill or disabled
people were most likely to be in consistent poverty.

– The pupil-teacher ratio at primary level in Ireland in the school year 2002/2003 was one of the highest in
the EU at 18.7. Just over half of all EU states had a pupil-teacher ratio of less than 15 at primary level.

– In 2003, 15 year old girls displayed much higher reading literacy proficiency than boys of the same age in
Ireland.

– In the first half of the 1990s, price levels in Ireland were below the EU 25 average. Since 1995, Ireland has been relatively more expensive than the EU 25 average and by 2004 our price level was over 23% above the EU average. Denmark was the only EU state with higher costs of living than Ireland in 2004.

– Ireland spent considerably less on research and development1 as a percentage of GDP/GNI than the EU average in the period 1995-2004 and as a percentage of GNI is exactly the same as it was a decade ago.

– In 2004, 19.7% of unemployed persons were in consistent poverty, compared with 1.8% of people at work. Almost 22% of ill or disabled people in Ireland were experiencing consistent poverty.

– In 1995, women’s earnings were 80% of men’s earnings in Ireland compared to 83% in the EU as a whole. By 2004 this proportion had increased to 89% in Ireland compared to an EU average of 85%

– Ireland had the seventh lowest gender pay gap of those EU countries providing data in 2004. Malta had the lowest gap, with women’s earnings at 96% of men’s earnings

– Real expenditure per student in Ireland increased by 77.1% for first level students and by 53.9% for second level students over the period 1995-2004 when measured in constant 2003 prices. However, the corresponding increase at third level over the period was a more modest 5.4%. These contrasting trends are partly explained by the trend in student numbers. The numbers of students decreased by 9.2% at first level and by 9.0% at second level between 1994/1995 and 2003/2004. However, over the same period, the number of third level students increased by over 50%

– Ireland had a student to teacher ratio of 18.7 at primary education level (ISCED 1) in 2002/2003. This was the fifth highest reported ratio in the EU. The overall student to teacher ratio for first and second level education for Ireland in 2002/2003 was 15.4.

– Over the period 1999-2005, the proportion of females aged 25-34 in Ireland with 3rd level education rose from 27.5% in 1999 to 43.7% in 2005. Over the same period, the rate for males increased more modestly from 26.7% to 34.9%. The widening gap reflects the increasing tendency for females to remain in education for longer than males.

– In 2005, 39.2% of the population aged 25-34 in Ireland had 3rd level education compared with 28.5% in the EU.

– Girls in Ireland performed much better than boys in reading literacy tests in 2003 with an average score of 530 for females compared to 501 for males. These scores combined to give Ireland the second highest reading literacy for 15 year
old students among included EU countries. Ireland was also above the OECD average in mathematical and scientific literacy.

– Almost 87% of persons aged 20-24 in 2005 had completed second level education or higher. This figure decreased for older age groups down to 41.0% of persons aged 55-64. Women of all ages in Ireland are more likely than men to have completed at least upper secondary education.

– There has been net migration into Ireland in each year during the period 1996-2005. The level of net inward migration increased from 8,000 in 1996 to 41,300 in 2002 before falling to 31,600 in 2004 and then rising substantially to
53,400 in 2005.

– The natural increase in the population was 33,500 in 2005, a substantial increase on the 1996 figure of 16,700.

– The level of annual gross emigration from Ireland decreased from 31,200 persons in 1996 to 16,600 persons in 2005. Some 26,200 persons moved to Ireland from the ten new EU countries in 2005 compared to 8,900 persons from the other EU countries excluding the UK.

– Ireland had the highest proportion of persons aged under 15 in the EU (30.7%) and the second lowest proportion of persons aged 65 and over (16.4%) in 2004.

– The number of lone parent families with children aged under 20 increased by almost 80% between 1996 and 2005. The ratio of female to male heads of household for lone parent families with children aged under 20, increased from just over 7:1 in 1996 to over 11:1 in 2005.

– There were over twice as many women aged 65 and over living alone in 2005 as there were men.

– The percentage of persons aged 65 and over living alone in 2005 was 31.9%.

– The number of murders recorded in Ireland since the 1970’s has been increasing steadily. A decrease in the number of murders was recorded in 2003 and 2004, for the first time since 1997.

– The number of private cars per 1,000 population aged 15 and over in Ireland has risen from 364 in 1995 to 495 in 2004. Ireland’s passenger car ownership rate was lower than the EU average of 555.3 in 2002.

– Central and local government expenditure (public spending) is put at 32.7% of GNI in 2004, down from 39% in 1995. Gross debt as a percentage of GNI is put at 32%.

  • slug

    This progress is wonderful. It really is.

  • John

    The ‘State of the Irish Nation’ looks pretty good to me with figures supplied. The one down fall is that the article has only addressed the southern part of Ireland. If we compared it with the north we would have a comparison of the whole Irish Nation. Then we would know the true ‘State of the Irish Nation’.

  • john

    Which Irish nation, i wonder?? I look forward to the day we gain independence in Scotland too. Lucky Irish!!

  • seabhac siulach

    Just to nit-pick but this report is not about the state of the ‘Irish Nation’ (as in the title). It is merely a report on the 26 county subset of it that is economically/politically independent…

  • George

    I had a feeling I’d get picked up on “Irish Nation” but I hope my northern brethren don’t think too ill of me for briefly sacrificing them for the sake of I what I thought was a catchy headline.

  • Brian Boru

    OK first of all I want to inform you that these aren’t the Census results. We will have to wait until July 10th 2006 to get a preliminary result of the total population of the Republic. While the estimates are interesting I believe they may be underestimating the true levels of immigration. Apparently the Census enumerators were unable to deliver forms to 300,000 homes, and supposedly after consultations with management companies and landlords it was determined these premises were “vacant”. However there are those who would suspect that some Black Economy employers who house illegal workers may be hiding a lot of people. I heard on the radio some time ago about some Poles who had disappeared when the Census people came to collect the form. Judge for yourselves.

    However I do agree that few Irish people are emigrating compared to the 80’s when between 88-92 around 88,000 a year were leaving. And many of those leaving will return and are just getting work-experience abroad. A stark contrast to the exodus from the North.

  • Keith M

    “Ireland has one of the highest risk-of-poverty rates in the EU.”

    Once again this old hairy chestnut. Define “poverty”.

    Proving that i can be as pedantic as the best of them

    Article 4 of the constitution of this country : “The name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland.”

    From Dictionary.com
    IRISH
    “adj : of or relating to or characteristic of Ireland or its people.”

    NATION
    “noun : A relatively large group of people organized under a single, usually independent government; a country.”

    So there’s absolutely nothing wrong with he title.

    Brian Boru “A stark contrast to the exodus from the North.”. The latest I saw was that there was also net migration into Northern Ireland.

  • slug

    “A stark contrast to the exodus from the North.”

    For the last few years (since about 2001) there have been more people moving from GB to NI than from NI to GB. This is part of a UK wide trend as people move out from London and the South East to Wales, Scotland and NI. Also the external migration figures suggest more in-migration to NI than out-migration.

  • seabhac siulach

    Keith M:

    “So there’s absolutely nothing wrong with he title.”

    Not if you are a 26 county free state ‘nationalist’, no…but those few of us who do not vote for Fine Gael the nation is significantly more than the narrow definition of a group of people organised under a single government (in that case, are the UK or the EU nations, merely because the power is centralised in London/Brussels?) The 3rd definition from Dictionary.com states a nation to be:
    ‘A people who share common customs, origins, history, and frequently language’ This is the more generally understood definition…

  • Keith M

    ss “This is the more generally understood definition.” I beg to differ. Most people see nation/state/country as interchangeable.

  • Crataegus

    From what I hear from people who have a serious number of houses and flats to rent there are very high levels of immigration into NI. I don’t know if they are legal or illegal. The majority of flats are being taken by members of EU states and African and Indian medical staff. It may be anecdotal or not typical of NI as a whole, but certainly no mass exodus quite the opposite. Indeed some of the flatlands are becoming foreign enclaves, as many landlords prefer hard working East Europeans as tenants over social housing tenants.

    Good to see good economic statistics south of the border.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Keith M,

    Most people see nation/state/country as interchangeable.

    The Constitution – yours and mine – disagrees with you. Are you only slightly constitutional?

    seabhac siulach,

    Ignore Keith M, he’s just trolling. Yeah, I know I’m a hypocrite.

  • Ringo

    SS

    ‘A people who share common customs, origins, history, and frequently language’ This is the more generally understood definition…

    That clearly places unionists in the British nation and not the Irish.

    Sauce for the goose?

    ps. Remember there have been two referenda at either end of the 20th century on the partition of Ireland – and both were passed by a majority.
    Never voted FG in my life. (Yet).

  • Keith M

    Stephen Copeland : I’m fully aware that the Irish constitution has a different definition of “nation” and includes people of Irish extraction all over he World, however try and think out of the Irish box and think globally. I repeat most people see nation/state/country as interchangeable.

  • Brian Boru

    “The latest I saw was that there was also net migration into Northern Ireland.”

    Yes but that does not disguise that it is NI people leaving and non-NI people entering.

  • seabhac siulach

    Ringo:

    “‘A people who share common customs, origins, history, and frequently language’ This is the more generally understood definition…

    That clearly places unionists in the British nation and not the Irish. ”

    And hence the problem in the 6 counties…we have British nationalists (unionists) present within the confines of the historical Irish Nation…having been planted there…
    However, there is a subtle difference in being a British nationalist and being able to call oneself British (as a nationality, I mean)…only those born in England,Scotland or Wales can legitimately do that…

    “ps. Remember there have been two referenda at either end of the 20th century on the partition of Ireland – and both were passed by a majority. ”

    And in the 26 counties the constitution was changed as follows following this GFA referendum;

    “Article 2 states that everyone born on the island of Ireland has the right “to be part of the Irish Nation”, and grants citizenship to all such people (if at least one of their parents are Irish).

    Article 3 declares the will of the Irish people to create a united Ireland, provided this occurs peacefully, and with the consent of the people of Northern Ireland.”

    Clearly the meaning intended from this is that the full 32 counties comprise the Irish Nation, as understood by most Irish people. So, what is your point?
    From memory, no changes took place in the UK ‘constitution’ (that mess of parliamentary bills) following the 6 county GFA referendum that had anything to do with nationality…
    So, again, what is your point?

  • slug

    “Yes but that does not disguise that it is NI
    people leaving and non-NI people entering. ”

    I am uncelear on why this particular point is an issue.

    But in terms of NI people, I think there are a fair number of returnees. The internal UK migration data (i.e. GB to NI and vice versa), finds more people going from GB to NI in recent years than going from NI to GB.

    These are actual UK residents, not people from outside the UK, and I think many are likely to be NI people returning. (If you look at the age profile of the migrants, the leavers tend to be about student age and the people entering tend to be older.)

  • PaddyReilly

    My impression is that throughout the whole of the UK there is a tendency for native-born people to leave and go to Spain or the US or somewhere and be replaced by folk from abroad.

    This is part of a general wish to better oneself: Beverly Hills is better than Scunthorpe, Scunthorpe is better than Islamabad, etc. In some cases, of course, it is merely the job which is better.

  • DK

    Slug: “These are actual UK residents, not people from outside the UK, and I think many are likely to be NI people returning.”

    I think that a large number are English people looking to get out of England (might be more when the world cup is over – whether they win or lose!)

    Previously they would have been put off by the violence, but not any more. It’s an unexpected peace dividend – a fresh bunch of planters.

  • slug

    Paddy and DK

    Purely personal anecdote here (but Crat does this so I can) but a lot of my 30-something and 40-something relatives are coming back, with their kids, after about 15-20 years in London and elsewhere. Some of it is just a desire to bring up the children near their grandparents and maybe have a better lifestyle and better schools. In fact I have cousins who weren’t even born/brought up in NI choosing NI because of the family link.

  • G

    Slug,

    You are correct, certainly from my personnel point of view at least! I’m returning in the next few months, I left to work in the south east about 10 years ago fresh out of uni. Now it’s time to come home.

    I’m not alone either, of the few I kept in touch with and who also moved away many are returning.

    G

  • Objectivist

    ”Ignore Keith M, he’s just trolling. Yeah, I know I’m a hypocrite.”
    Keith tends to select out a subset of the total complement of relevant facts that validates his worldview.

  • Crataegus

    Brian

    Yes but that does not disguise that it is NI people leaving and non-NI people entering.

    Name a country that this doesn’t happen in, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Burma? Most people who leave here go to England and many English come here, same country. Do you object to Dubliners going to Cork?

  • Am can we get back to the issue in hand. the above report and the definition of nation.

  • Donnacha

    While some might point out that the “risk of poverty” has risen in ireland, I would contend that the risk of poverty is far far better than the actuality of poverty. Ireland does, indeed, appear to be racing ahead, at least economically. What this financial sprint does to the social fabric of the country is another matter entirely.

  • ss

    “However, there is a subtle difference in being a British nationalist and being able to call oneself British (as a nationality, I mean)…only those born in England,Scotland or Wales can legitimately do that… ”

    Hold on ’till I get my passport… right let’s see…

    Place of Birth/ Lieu de naissance – Dungannon
    Nationality/ Nationalite – British Citizen

    so what is it I can’t legitimately do?

  • seabhac siulach

    pakman:

    “Hold on ‘till I get my passport… right let’s see…

    Place of Birth/ Lieu de naissance – Dungannon
    Nationality/ Nationalite – British Citizen

    so what is it I can’t legitimately do? ”

    Okay, point taken…however, I think that it is widely accepted that the term British citizen is a convenient (and incorrect) shorthand used for all UK passports and refers merely to the fact that you are a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Note that the international name of the country is the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Those born in N.Ireland therefore cannot claim to be British as a nationality, in the understood definition of a nation (the Irish nation, i.e., Ireland lying outside of Britain, obviously enough), despite the fact that some bureaucratic shorthand is used in a passport (in lieu of writing the correct form, i.e., UK citizen).
    The laziness or inexactitude of the stationary office in which the Passport were designed in wrongly issuing passports with the title British citizen and not UK citizen, does not, of itself, confer nationality…merely bureaucratic confusion…
    You may have ‘British’ citizenship, yes, but nationality, I think not…

  • Ringo

    SS

    …we have British nationalists (unionists) present within the confines of the historical Irish Nation

    The problem is that you’re contradicting yourself. Your chosen definition of Nation (which you claim is the ‘more generally understood definition’) pays no heed to contemporary geography.

    A people who share common customs, origins, history, and frequently language

    It is also worth noting that Keith’s preferred definition doesn’t refer to geography either. Origins are one thing.

    You can’t have it both ways.

    If you accept that the unionists are part of the British Nation, then the Irish state has no more authority over them than you think the British State has over the Irish nation.

    Most republicans tend to try and shoehorn the unionist population into a the Irish nation by claiming everyone who lives in Ireland, and rejecting the legitimacy of their place in the British nation. Clearly this is not acceptable to unionists.

    Aside from proposing a repatriation of those that you recognise as the British on the island back to Britain, leaving the whole island to the Irish nation I don’t see how you can reconcile your positions.

  • seabhac siulach

    Ringo:

    “Aside from proposing a repatriation of those that you recognise as the British on the island back to Britain, leaving the whole island to the Irish nation I don’t see how you can reconcile your positions.”

    No need for such drastic measures…
    I am not advocating anything like that. I just feel that the British nationalists among us should show some appreciation for the fact that, while being accorded the name of British citizens, they are, in fact, living in a nation that is not part of Britain. Is not part of the problem in the six counties that the planters, the now British nationalists, have shown and still show little interest in assimilating into their 300+ year old adopted home? When do people, after all, become part of the nation in which they are planted? Is 300 years not enough? Why this need to always look across the sea to a supposed ‘nation’ there (the political construct of the UK), while denying any interest or attachment to the one in which you live?
    Are we really saying that those in the six counties have more in common with people in the South of England or Wales or Scotland than to those in the South of Ireland, i.e., those just across the border in Donegal, Monaghan, Louth, Cavan, etc.?
    I find this hard to understand.

  • slug

    ss: to be perfectly blunt that sort of attitude is the sort that makes me realise why I am perfectly happy to stay in the UK!

  • seabhac siulach

    “ss: to be perfectly blunt that sort of attitude is the sort that makes me realise why I am perfectly happy to stay in the UK!”

    Yes, in that part of the Irish nation in the UK, I assume…

  • slug

    “Yes, in that part of the Irish nation in the UK, I assume”

    A nation is a group of people, rather than a physical location. Right?

  • Harry

    I don’t see how you can reconcile your positions.

    Simple. You can be culturally british in every way but the governance of people on the island of ireland will be by the people of ireland themselves not a foreign power. The british/protestant identity of unionists is prefectly fine, it just doesn’t give you the right to impose a foreign power over the majority of the people, or to be an agent of such efforts to impose.

  • Ringo

    SS –

    they are, in fact, living in a nation that is not part of Britain

    by your own chosen definition, and as Slug says, you cannot live in a nation. It isn’t a place. They are living alongside the Irish nation.

    have shown and still show little interest in assimilating into their 300+ year old adopted home
    As a member of a nation that spent the bulk of that 300 years trying to avoid various schemes designed to assimilate us, unwillingly, into another nation, I would have thought you might see where they were coming from. Some people reckon they’ve withstood 800 years, so why you’d expect results in 300 is beyond me.

    Dublin has more in common with London or Manchester than it does with Fermanagh while Leitrim has more in common with Fermanagh than it does with Dublin. All depends on what you are comparing – it doesn’t fall as neatly as you’d like. After thirty years of mayhem that the rest of us have been more or less spared – ye’ve got far more in common with each other.

    A people who share common customs, origins, history, and frequently language even.

  • seabhac siulach

    slug:

    “A nation is a group of people, rather than a physical location. Right?”

    Yes. Point taken.
    Nationality is defined as ‘a community of people who share a common ethnic origin, culture, historical tradition, and, frequently, language, WHETHER OR NOT THEY LIVE TOGETHER IN ONE TERRITORY OR HAVE THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT.’

    You can therefore be part of a nation while not being physically present in that territory of that nation, as is the case for British nationalists (unionists) in the six counties.
    However, there is also another definition of a nation that takes into account the national territory…this is an historic thing, and in the case of Ireland long predates partition, for example.
    While you can call yourself a British citizen you cannot claim that the historical national territory of Britain extends to the island of Ireland (unlike the political reach of the UK). Even the name of the UK used to make this plain when referring to the UK of Great Britain and Ireland, i.e., making a great distinction between Britain and Ireland. The national territory of Ireland is clearly understood to be the island of Ireland.
    BTW, if you lived in Scotland, would you be denying that you live in the Scottish nation, while still holding on to your British citizenship? So, why in Ireland? Or are we to pretend that the six counties is not part of any national territory or any nation?

    This brings me back to my point that there is a subtle difference in being a British nationalist (i.e., having British citizenship, a political label) and being able to really call oneself British…only those born in England,Scotland or Wales can legitimately do that…
    If born in the 6 counties you have clearly been born in the historical national territory of Ireland…and are, therefore, Irish. The choice of nationality, based on ethnic, political or religious links, then makes you a British citizen or whatever as you wish…while not denying the fact that the nation you were born into is Ireland…
    I see no contradiction in this…

  • slug

    ss

    I don’t really have time to read thrrough all those comments on what I can do and can’t do. Suffice to say I’m a British citizen living in the UK and more than happy to remain that way!

  • Reader

    ss: being able to really call oneself British…only those born in England,Scotland or Wales can legitimately do that…
    (1) Who says?
    (2) The name of the big island is ‘Great Britain’, not ‘Britain’. It doesn’t include Orkney and Shetland either. Can’t they be British? So I regard ‘Britain’ as a virtual entity, not an island.
    (3) If there’s a debate between Irish Nationalists and the British Passport Office as to what the term ‘British’ actually means, I think the Passport Office has the casting vote. But I suspect the final answer won’t depend on drawing a line round the dry bit.
    (4) As a unionist, I would say I was both British and Irish, though not part of the Irish Nation as defined by most Nationalists. I don’t regard Nationalists as being uniquely entitled to own or define the word ‘Irish’, since we share this bit of land. I would listen attentively to a carefully worded attempted definition from the SDLP though.

  • PHIL

    Crateagus,

    “Most people who leave here go to England and many English come here, same country.”

    Same country my a**e!

    I don’t care if our passports are the same, the day that I can get a passport with “Kingdom (or preferably Republic) of England” on the front then I’ll be there at the front of the queue!

  • Brian Boru

    “Name a country that this doesn’t happen in, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Burma? Most people who leave here go to England and many English come here, same country. Do you object to Dubliners going to Cork?”

    Not comparing like with like. Most English people regarding Northerners as foreigners. I think even Unionists will have experienced this when abroad and being called Irish.

  • slug

    “Most English people regard Northerners as foreigners.”

    The Southerners might – there is a real North-South divide in England.

    “I think even Unionists will have experienced this when abroad and being called Irish.”

    They call me British, I find. They also know that NI is in the UK, I find. I always check to make sure 🙂

  • Crataegus

    In London we consider anyone North of Watford as foreign!

    By the way was over in the Dordogne a while back with an old school chum. Lives in France but still he is British. Over in Kilburn plenty of Irish living there perhaps we should forcibly convert them? Try walking into a bar and telling them they are hypocrites and they should simply accept the fact that they are English, or should they just go home?

    Nationality is a strange and complicated thing and if someone wants to consider themselves Irish, British or Mongolian let them. It is their right and none of my business. Indeed it is not just bad manners it is aggressive and threatening behaviour, it is an attempt to degrade someone’s perception of themselves, their heritage and background. Convoluted arguments to justify derogation of identity.

    Phil

    Same pathetic government

  • PHIL

    Crataegus,

    “Phil

    Same pathetic government”

    On that you have my wholehearted agreement!

  • seabhac siulach

    slug:

    “I don’t really have time to read thrrough all those comments on what I can do and can’t do. Suffice to say I’m a British citizen living in the UK and more than happy to remain that way!”

    Why is it so hard to admit that you are Irish, albeit with a British nationality??
    If Scottish or Welsh or English, would you deny this nationality and just claim to be British? I think not…that is my point. Why can 6 county unionists not be proud to be Irish, irrespective of their chosen British nationality…I find this odd…

  • Keith M

    seabhac siulach : “Why is it so hard to admit that you are Irish, albeit with a British nationality?”.

    Perhaps you should ask Irish nationalists why their definition of “Irish” is so alien to those with whom they share this island.

  • seabhac siulach

    Keith M

    “Perhaps you should ask Irish nationalists why their definition of “Irish” is so alien to those with whom they share this island.”

    No, I ask instead why Unionists do not wish to define themselves as Irish…there is no reason why an Irish person cannot also be a Unionist, is there? I did not know that it was exclusive term. Why do Unionists run from this label of Irish? Why do they not stand up for their right to be defined as Irish, irrespective of political affiliation?? Why this desire instead to be an undefined British? Why this lack of respect for the nation they were born into?
    I repeat that it is apparently possible for a person to be proud to be Scottish, Welsh and English and still be British, but for some reason this is not possible when we talk of the 6 counties. Why? Is there such a disrespect for all things Irish (in the most global meaning of that term)?
    And if nationalists have taken the meaning of Irish to define just themselves, then surely unionists should fight all the harder to also be able to define themselves thus.

  • Keith M

    seabhac siulach “I ask instead why Unionists do not wish to define themselves as Irish.”.

    I put it to you that until you answer my question (ask Irish nationalists why their definition of “Irish” is so alien to those with whom they share this island) you won’t understand the answer to yours.

    In the 1920s (and especially the economic wasteland of the 1930s), the IFS re-defined the national identify around exclusiveness and how “Irish” was different and separate from “British”. Previously it had been quite acceptable to be both “Irish” and “British” in the same way as it is possible to be “English”, “Scottish” or “Welsh” and still be British.

    In may have been politically expedient to do this at the time, in order to build the foundation of the IFS but the longer term repercussions have only really been felt in the last 30 years.

    “Why do they not stand up for their right to be defined as Irish, irrespective of political affiliation?”. I think it’s a mixture of having better things to do and an acceptance of having lost the battle.

    Several unionists (and pro-union people like me), have no problem defining themselves as “Irish”, but it is not the generally accepted usage. My Irishness comes from the fact that I was born and raised in Ireland, but I believe that we would be better off in a political union with the rest of the British Isles. It doesn’t mean that I have any less respect for Irelan, its people, its traditions or its culture, it’s simply what I believe is best politically for this island. However our Irishness is is somehow seen as secondary or something to have scorn poured upon it (the constant cackle of “West Brits” etc.)

    “Why this desire instead to be an undefined British?”. There is nothing undefined about being British. British is an internationally reconised and far less ambiguous national identity than “Irish”.

    Personally I only think that we will make progress when people with a narrow and exclusive definition of their “Irish” identity see the bigger picture.

    The IFS has matured and it no longer needs the safety net of an invented national branding. However that is not to say that is ois the only way that the people of this country can be governed in the decades and centuries to come.

    In time a real debate on the best longterm political future for this country and the rest of the British Isles will emerge. In a world where national borders are becoming less and less relevant, the definition of people by national identity will become less important. One day I believe that we will all see ourselves as primarily Europeans.

  • It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish Nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland. Furthermore, the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage.

    Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr “thomas the tank engine narrator” get back to your selfish smug West of Ireland partionist thatched cottage in the octopuses garden.
    The Northerners ask don’t pass me by and you splash mud on them in your muddied shit-stained 06 G SUV.

  • Brian Boru

    “Several unionists (and pro-union people like me), have no problem defining themselves as “Irish”, but it is not the generally accepted usage. My Irishness comes from the fact that I was born and raised in Ireland, but I believe that we would be better off in a political union with the rest of the British Isles.”.

    By “we” do you mean the island or the Six Counties? The South was a Third World country in the UK and is now richer per capita than the UK so I can’t see how we would be “better off” in the UK. I scorn the idea.

  • abucs

    Keith,

    i am interested also in why you think Ireland is better off in a United Kingdom rather than independant.

    For reasons of economics, accountability, national pride, relevant local law making as well as a voice in Europe i can only see the joining of the South within the UK as a backward step in all the above categories.

  • Keith M

    BB : “The South was a Third World country in the UK and is now richer per capita than the UK so I can’t see how we would be “better off” in the UK.” Actually no it wasn’t, Irish people were financially better off as part of the U.K. than they were under the IFS.

    During most of the time that the Republic has been independent, Ireland has been poorer than even the poorest region of the U.K. Things may have changed in he past 15 years, but on average Ireland has been poorer since leaving the U.K.

    Of course whether people are better off is more than just GDP.

    If we were part of the U.K., we would have been part of the fight against fascism and not just neuutral observors. We might not have had the huge emigration tide of the 1930s and we we certainly would not have had the same level of emigration in the 1950s and 1980s.

    If we were part of the U.K., gansters like Haugey would not have the positions of power to damage the body politic. Generations of Irish children might not have been abused by state/church colusion.

    Of course a lot of this is irrelevant, but the idea that Ireland has been a better place since leaving the U.K., is certainly open to debate.

  • Brian Boru

    “If we were part of the U.K., we would have been part of the fight against fascism and not just neuutral observors. We might not have had the huge emigration tide of the 1930s and we we certainly would not have had the same level of emigration in the 1950s and 1980s.”

    Emigration in the 19th century was probably 5 or 6 times what is was in the 20th century, during which around 1 million people left the South in net terms. There hasn’t been a famine since independence. We are agriculturally self-sufficient because we are no longer being used as Britain’s bread-basket at the cost of millions of Irish people starving. There was already a huge emigration tide under British rule.

    “If we were part of the U.K., we would have been part of the fight against fascism and not just neuutral observors. We might not have had the huge emigration tide of the 1930s and we we certainly would not have had the same level of emigration in the 1950s and 1980s.”

    Well 70,000 Southerners fought in the UK and US armies during WW2 – more than Northerners. Research referred to on RTE Radio 1 recently indicates that the vast majority of those who served support Irish neutrality. Realistically we could not have taken part officially. Our weak economy would have been set back even further with German bombs, and most people felt we owed Britain no favours so soon after independence and only 1 year after we got back the Treaty ports. It would be like asking the Kosovo Albanians to support the Serbs in a war. Joining the war officially would have meant a new British occupation which might have been difficult to remove later on. Our consciences are clear on this issue. While most people preferred an Allied victory, this did not depend on our official involvement in the war.

    It also started an honourable tradition of neutrality which means our men and women are not being sent to the 4 corners of the world to countries that are not a threat to us, which is more than can be said about the current war in Iraq and others. As a neutral country, we are able to maintain good trade-links with countries the US or UK might not be on good terms with and that is important to an export-reliant economy. I also think we have earned respect for our neutral stance, as reflected by the votes we accrued for a UN Security-Council seat some years ago and the election of Mary Robinson as the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    “If we were part of the U.K., gansters like Haugey would not have the positions of power to damage the body politic. Generations of Irish children might not have been abused by state/church colusion.”

    The only difference between Irish political corruption and British political corruption is that the Irish investigate it through public-tribunals while the British cover it up or whitewash it through internal ones. Haughey also introduced the 10% corporation-tax rate, free travel for the elderly, equal succession rights for wives, and laid the foundations of the Celtic Tiger and the Peace Process.

  • MikeW

    Keith

    some interesting points, however:

    “We might not have had the huge emigration tide of the 1930s and we we certainly would not have had the same level of emigration in the 1950s and 1980s.”

    No reason to suppose that it would have made any difference. Figures for Scotland for the 50s-60s show emigration running at about 30,000 pa

    http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/library/annrep/annrep/01sect2.html

    “If net migration levels of the 1950s and 1960s (over 30,000 in many years) had continued, Scotland’s population would have fallen at a much greater rate.”

    Figures for Ireland are 50’s 409,000 (or about 40k pa), 60’s 135,000 (or about 13k pa)

    http://www.ictu.ie/html/news/briefcase/celtic_tiger.pdf

    “Actually no it wasn’t, Irish people were financially better off as part of the U.K. than they were under the IFS.”

    Hard to quantify I would have thought, but looking back some 60 years prior to leaving, with the whole area of rack renting famine etc, would find it hard to imagine that prior to the split the Irish in general would have been any better off then in the (admittedly badly run) Free State.

    “If we were part of the U.K., we would have been part of the fight against fascism and not just neuutral observors.”

    Would that have made us any better off as such?

    Moreover, as I see it in Britain today the bulk of economic activity and wealth is in the South East of England, the rest of the UK doesn’t get much of a look in. Why do you think that all of Ireland being in the UK would have changed this?