Random musing on a ‘united Ireland’

There is currently, always was and always will be discussion in Slugger on a ‘United Ireland.’

Impossible? Inevitable? Imminent or beyond the horizon?
Personally, I doubt if I will ever live long enough to see a united Ireland. I simply do not buy the demographic argument.

Northern Ireland has been engineered to guarantee a unionist majority. I do not blame Gerry Adams or Mark Durkan for partition. There are more unionists than nationalists in Northern Ireland. That’s what it is for.

I do not feel ashamed to say that. That is not to say that I do not believe that it should be vigorously worked for and built towards, I do. I simply feel it could well take 60 years. So be it.

It is pretty pointless just wishing really hard for it.

Some argue that if the dream of a united Ireland was stamped out then the dissidents would fade away. I doubt that.

In addition, I feel that the long term tactic for unionism is reparation. The DUP revel in nationalist angst – it is used to illustrate their ‘successes’, they have never made a case as to why a ‘Catholic’ should chose the union (to my knowledge). Hardly a tactic designed to secure the union and a massive distinction between them and the modern British state and nation in Britain, where pluralism is the name of the game.

My reading of their tactics is in the event of a pro-united Ireland vote is that they will simply demand repartition. Get rid of a few heavy concentrations of nationalist and they simply carry on.

Unfortunately, my own native sod, whilst mountainous and mostly nationalist would not benefit from re-partition, having a natural resource vital to the state.

Some argue that if Catholic schools were banned (or at least not publicly funded) then the Irish culture and socio-political culture which maintains nationalism in the north would fade away and a new Northern Irish people would emerge.

Perhaps, but aggressive assimilation policies have been practised for hundreds of years, they have succeeded in some respects and failed in others.

Some Catholics point out quite rightly, that the battle for equality in the north is hampered by the fact that nationalists demand a united Ireland – leading to a situation where even the smallest equality issue is resisted furiously by unionists.

Quite, but hardly a basis to give up ones right of self-determination?

I know that many in the south feel that their country ends outside Dundalk and that their countrymen consist of residents of the twenty-six counties only. Many hold this up as evidence that the south would not vote in favour of a united Ireland. Not convinced of that but clearly a important factor.

If there was a referendum passed in the north but rejected in the south wouldn’t that simply lead to two independent Ireland? An Irish Republic and a Republic of Ireland? That could be fun.

Naturally, I do fundamentally disagree with ‘26 County patriots’ of course. Although I do have sympathy with the argument that the ‘Republic’ is an independent Irish state. A united Ireland would not (made a mistake, sorry) be undesirable in my view if it led ultimately back into the UK.

Perhaps the priority of Irish nationalists should be to defend the independent Ireland first, united Ireland second?

Of course I am a Gaelic nationalist (perhaps culturalist is a better term, I do not actually wish to unite the highlands of Scotland and the Isle of Man) who feels that the defence of our culture must take priority over political factors. If I had to chose between my language and culture and an independent state I would chose my language and culture. Not many would agree with me on that one!

  • picador

    The fact that you are close to the problem ( i.e those peace walls ) while it probably adds to your concerns over any possible new line- probably also distorts your view of the ‘big ’ picture.

    On the contrary. What you call the big picture relates very much to facts on the ground. By and large the same facts that led the governments of both Britain and the Free State to reject your proposed solution following the collapse of the powers-sharing executive in 74 on the basis that it would make an already bad situation worse.

    You do not seem to have any grasp of the facts on the ground. That is the hole in your argument.

  • Mack

    Greenflag

    Can you clarify what you mean by this?

    I’m not against a UI but don’t see how one can be achieved given the demographics of the present NI state

    I would have thought that the demographics pointed to a Catholic majority at some point in the future.

  • PaddyReilly

    you make no attempt at recognising differing shades within Ulster-British opinion

    Everyone in NI is from Ulster and everyone born there is entitled to a British passport and under British administration. Please find a different name for your street gang. And stop confusing administrative areas with political factions.

    There are doubtless many shades of opinion in Unionism. I am not currently attacking Unionism, merely the deployment of a particular argument, which I think is the two nation theory.

    If you are stuck in narrowminded taunting mindset then please stay in London,

    No, I will continue to flit back and forth to Belfast and Dublin as suits me. Bear in mind that the people of London tend to see the NI thing not as the titanic fight of British v Irish that you describe, but as faction fighting between mad paddies and even madder paddies.

    do you support the Good Friday Agreement and the Consent Principle within it

    There are certain major flaws in the GFA, but as the people of Ireland have voted for it, I will not be wasting my breath in attacking it, as a contributor called ‘Dave’ is wont to do.

  • T’Artificial sectarian Statelet was a known failur

    In Soviet Ulster

    Dear David, now solve our Soviet-style economy

    By Ed Curran

  • Democratic

    “Everyone in NI is from Ulster and everyone born there is entitled to a British passport and under British administration. Please find a different name for your street gang. And stop confusing administrative areas with political factions”
    LOL – Okay Paddy – since you say so……
    You may however want to bear in mind that the GFA as ratified by both Governments endorsed that anyone in NI is entitled to British or Irish NATIONALITY – it is not obviously necessary to be living in either geographical area to keep it either…but then you would know that eh? Just bear in mind that no Unionist in NI is taking any British nationality rights that are not freely given by our historic associates on the mainland -so therefore at the risk if sounding like a Uber-DUPer – we can and will call ourselves British subjects and should this irk you – well like you said before you may not like some things but they happen anyway….

  • PaddyReilly

    You may however want to bear in mind that the GFA as ratified by both Governments endorsed that anyone in NI is entitled to British or Irish NATIONALITY

    In what way does this differ from what I just said?

    we can and will call ourselves British subjects and should this irk you

    I am definitely a white man- in pallor I am second to none- but should I insist on bellowing “I’m a white man” on buses, in Sainsbury’s, in the office, then I suspect that other people might take offense. I certainly would not improve my job prospects and might even find myself sectioned.

    I suggest you find something more constructive to do with your life than bore other people with your identity ego trip. Perhaps you might like to move onto horoscopes- many people who have absolutely nothing else going for them take comfort from their star sign.

  • Democratic

    LOL – sorry if I am boring you Paddy – however you must understand that I find your constant verbose trolling somewhat tiresome also.
    Let’s recap – this thread has seen you wax lyrical on the upcoming final extinction of the Ulster Protestant tribe ala the 17th century Huguenots,
    Refer to the aforementioned as a Sectarian street gang, offer up a fable about the anti-social tendencies of certain “Born Again” Protestant parents, ridicule the Unionist communities’ (in your view) tenuous claim to British nationality and ultimately compare the circumstances of the British subjects in Northern Ireland to a South African paedophile you whom you were “familiar” with…..yet with all your lazy, crass and dare I say ignorant sectarian stereotyping and propaganda – I am the eejit on an ego trip…..I leave it to the viewing public to decide my friend.

  • PaddyReilly

    ridicule the Unionist communities’ (in your view) tenuous claim to British nationality

    Not at all. This is enshrined by law, the GFA, etc, is it not? Do I not hold my own (UK) passport under the same rules? What is objectionable is not that they wish to claim a particular passport or nationality, but they wish to claim some sort of covenant with the issuer that they can use to disadvantage their neighbours.

    Minorities away from their homeland tend to lose their separateness with time. The Irish in Britain, the Chinese in America. They call it the melting pot. It is the happy extinction of sectarianism through intermarriage and interaction. If Chinese and White Americans were fighting each other on the streets and bombing each others premises, would not any rational person look forward to the day when they ceased to be separate? Did this not in fact happen between the Catholic Irish Immigrants and the others in the 19th Century and are we not all better off for the fact that these divisions are long gone?

    If you are so keen on preserving ethnic separateness long after it has any relevance, why do you not campaign for Presbyterians and Church of Ireland folk to keep separate, thus perpetuating the Scottish and English races overseas?

  • Dave

    Paddy, the “melting pot” only applies in America, and not to any country in Europe. America never became a nation-state proper because it was colonised by a plethora of diverse nations, but, despite its heterogeneity, its people are united under a common nationalism that allows them to be one of the most patriotic people on earth. Both England and Ireland remain homogeneous countries, despite their multicultural pretensions. Apples and oranges.

  • Democratic

    “If you are so keen on preserving ethnic separateness long after it has any relevance, why do you not campaign for Presbyterians and Church of Ireland folk to keep separate, thus perpetuating the Scottish and English races overseas”
    Never said anything about preserving “ethnic separateness” Paddy that’s your take on things – you may be interested to know that I am engaged to an Ulster Catholic and the future of the Protestant gene pool will not be under threat as a result! – after 300 odd years there are still lot of us to go around…..
    What I am interested in is maintaining a political link with an ethnically diverse Britain which if considered actually in effect gives the reverse of the scenario you outline – that is all – there are no superiority complexes – no herrenvolk mentality and no wish to oppress my neighbours – nor should my personal proclaimation of being British impact in any negative way upon any reasonable dissenting neighbours – a tip though Paddy – people here (both Catholic and Protestant) do tend to get a little precious when they have their identities defined for them by someone with little real understanding of their motives….

  • Greenflag

    mack ,

    ‘I would have thought that the demographics pointed to a Catholic majority at some point in the future.’

    That may be or may not be . I assume you would agree with me that there will be no UI within the next ten years barring a major reversal in the political climate within NI both in party and national allegiances ? So rather than blather on about an ‘inevitable ‘ UI at some point I believe the Irish ‘nation’ should focus on matters more pertinent to the problems of as much of this island as we can .

    As for predicting the future ? A survey carried out in Shanghai in the pre bicycle era back at the turn of the 20th century predicted that if the number of horses continued to increase at their then present rate, then the major downtown streets of Shanghai would be submerged under 19ft of horse manure by 1930 . It did’nt happen by the way .

    As a general rule ‘inertia ‘ in evolution always favours the larger of the species .Generally the trend is for smaller units to adhere to or become part of larger units . This was accomplished in imperial days with the aid of military and industrial power . The EU has adopted a less forceful approach . Assuming and hoping that the world does not lurch back to a 1920/1930’s style protectionism then it seems to me that NI the ‘barnacle State ‘ will cling on to it’s main source of nutrients as it strives simultaneously both to stick closer to and remove itself further from it’s mother ship’s bountiful hull of subvention .

    Only by political fudge of the most opaque kind can this political acrobatics act ever hope to be successful . So far the high wire merchants are holding up 😉

  • Mack

    Greenflag –

    I agree a United Ireland within the next 10 years is highly improbable. But the next 10 years will see continuing dempgraphic change with political consequences. Humans are hard wired to appreciate small successes much more than big ones (finding a little food every day keeps you alive) and hard wired to avoid heavy losses even more and so have an aversion to the obviously risky / dangerous behaviours when being fed the opium of small gains. So, what I really mean is, as long as there is demographic progress, it will be next to impossible to persuade nationalists to go for repartition.

  • PaddyReilly

    Paddy, the “melting pot” only applies in America, and not to any country in Europe @Dave

    A matter of opinion. European countries take in smaller numbers of immigrants, and so the degree of change is often more rapid. Didn’t we have a leader of the Conservative party whose grandparent was Japanese? And Boris Johnson’s grandfather or something was Turkish! So the English and Irish version of the melting pot is to absorb immigrants totally.

    people here (both Catholic and Protestant) do tend to get a little precious when they have their identities defined for them@Democratic

    Very true. This is why I keep my gob shut in Belfast, and voice my opinions only from a distance, and on the internet. But they themselves love to pigeonhole and disparage, which has enabled me to pass from a Falls Road job-seeker to a 26 county imperialist to a dumb yank to a now totally clueless cockney in the opinion of whoever doesn’t like my arguments.

    with little real understanding of their motives@Dem

    I see. You are British, but no-one currently resident in Britain could understand what this means? What an enigma you are! And despite being British, you refer to ‘people here’ (Catholic and Protestant). Aren’t you actually talking about Ireland, in which case, wouldn’t you be better off being Irish?

  • Greenflag

    picador ,

    ‘By and large the same facts that led the governments of both Britain and the Free State to reject your proposed solution following the collapse of the powers-sharing executive in 74 on the basis that it would make an already bad situation worse.’

    That was 1974 and it was the Government of the UK and the Irish Republic which signed Sunningdale . You may be too close to the ground if you haven’t yet heard the news that the Irish Free State ceased to exist back in 1949 .

    ‘You do not seem to have any grasp of the facts on the ground.’

    Which ground ? I’m sure the facts on the ground differ from a personal perspective depending on where people live in NI. The ‘facts ‘ look different for somebody in Derry as compared to someone in Crossmaglen , Ballymena or North Belfast or for those in what are called ‘interface ‘ zones.

    ‘That is the hole in your argument.’

    The ‘hole’ in the argument for repartition is NOT that it could’nt work or would make things worse than they are or that it would leave people more alienated .

    The ‘hole’in repartition is that it would force both sides to face the ‘unfaceable’ and to accept the limitations of the present 6 county NI State which is now set in sectarian powerless power sharing cement . It would force ‘republicans ‘ to give up on their mythological 32 county Republic and also force Unionists to give up their ‘pretense ‘ of a 6 county NI being as British as Finchley .

    Of course many would say that it’s more humane to leave people with their ‘illusions’ and to let them waste the next 80 yrs just as they’ve wasted the past 80 yrs on trying to convince themselves that a one party state (1920-1972) can be democratic or that a two party sectarian carve up (2007 -? ) without opposition somehow is ‘democracy’ !

  • Greenflag

    mack ,

    ‘So, what I really mean is, as long as there is demographic progress, it will be next to impossible to persuade nationalists to go for repartition. ‘

    Which is why I haven’t set up a website to promote this ‘solution’. As I’m not a fan of a UI achieved by the methodology implicit in the ‘Sectarian Breeders Championship Steeplechase Stakes ‘ run over the next 25 years in various electoral constituencies around NI -you may appreciate my lack of enthusiasm for a 50% +1 victory vote for those with a higher conception disposition .

  • PaddyReilly

    a tip though Paddy – people here (both Catholic and Protestant) do tend to get a little precious when they have their identities defined for them by someone with little real understanding of their motives….

    The more I look at this the more it seems to confirm everything I have said. Shall we go through it..

    a tip though Paddy – people here to be interpreted: I a resident, am informing you, a foreigner, something you could not possibly know. Where does foreign Paddy live? London. Where is London? In Britain. Ergo, you do not appear to be in Britain, or on the British wave-length.

    do tend to get a little precious = fractious, violent. They are a violent people, rather like a sectarian street gang.

    (both Catholic and Protestant) They have differing opinions on the matter. Not a nationality matter, more like sectarian street-gangs.

    To be contrasted with the real Mackoy, the mere Britons, who listen to foreigners’ daft theories of who they are with polite indifference. Did you ever hear Pokorny on Das Pygmaenvolk? It’s hilarious. When I told my Welsh friend he was an Iberian Dwarf, he laughed non stop for 10 minutes.

    A word of warning though. Her Britannic Majesty’s Government can, with the stroke of a pen, debriticise anyone it wants to. A lot of folk in Hong Kong felt they were British, they even had the passports to prove it, but it turns out they weren’t really.

    At the moment you are in the happy position that the particular name (British) which you give to your political faction (Northern Ireland Unionist) does overlap with one of your permitted nationalities. This may not always be the case. HMG can be a little treacherous. But it doesn’t really matter, as unlike every other class of person who wants to be British, the NI Unionists do not apparently want to go to Britain. I would suggest you alter the spelling (of your faction) to Bruttish or Brytish, so that we no longer be confused.