On Hearts and Minds tonight…

On Hearts and Minds tonight, Robert Ramsay, the former PPS to Brian Faulkner and retired Brussels mandarin. Ramsey has a theory (possibly borne of his age that unionists should forget looking to Britain which has been perfidious Albion, as far as their future is concerned, and instead embrace Europe for their future survival . As noted previously on Slugger, Eamonn McCann reviews his book in tonight’s Tele.

  • Pete Baker
  • percy

    They could embrace Europe via the ROI,
    and avoid the congestion of Britain’s airports.

  • elvis parker

    I’m tempted to say ‘He would say that wouldnt he’

  • blinding

    I looked at it and took from it how fearful Unionsts were about the future.

    The people on the Island of Ireland needs to allay Unionist fears about the future.

  • Buile Suibhne

    Here we are one community with a complex set of traditions which our reductive political outlook ties up into Unionism and Nationalism, one or other. Michael Longley expressed it so well when he talked about being British in Dublin, Irish in London and European when in America.

  • Brian Walker

    Mick
    Just watched Robert Ramsey in BBCiPlayer.. What a thoughtful and civilised interview – nice to hear the accent (however Cherryvalley and eurocrat-modified),in non-strident mode, don’t you think?

    However the thesis is basically flawed, even leaving aside argy-bargy over Ulster Scots.

    Does a European ethnic minority character for unionists really suit NI? The point of such a category is to boost the rights and identity of minorities in ethnically mixed areas where no discrete territory can to be staked out for that minority and the community is too small to have a guaranteed place in government. That doesn’t apply. Another aim is to encourage subsidiarity – i.e. government at the lowest feasible level. But we have now reached hard-won political settlement. And what about the little problem of fitting in nationalists? The model doesn’t apply. Unionists need no further identity boosts and the constitutional position is as firm and flexible as any could be, I suggest. A viable NI has to remain ethnically mixed, albeit perhaps as a patchwork quilt.

    More specifically:

    1. In the EU, you have to belong to some nationality, however plural and supra-national you aspire to be. Which other than British is possible, as Ramsey doesn’t envisage this European category for unionists as an immediate prelude to Irish Unity?

    2. Regions like Catalonia are territorially and ethnically homogeneous, NI is not. In what sense then could Unionists exist as a separate community when they are not amply separate from nationalists? I fear this formulation doesn’t suit a small divided community and would seriously impair the need for both sides to work together – which , crab-like they probably are doing. The Ramsey thesis might just have made more sense with the old 70:30 ratio – although even then I doubt if it would work.

    The best option is the one we’ve reached, after many years of working at the model. Don’t let’s go down cul-de-sacs now. Paradoxically, attitudes towards NI in the UK establishment are probably warmer since a local settlement has been reached which fits into wider UK devolution. This far from makes NI “as British as Finchley” but it creates a mixed polity that is more in tune with the times than does over-concentration on the weak and dubious category of ethnicity within Europe.

  • percy

    Brian,
    The trouble is we’re stuck with a sectarian carve up of mutual vetoes,
    The only normal society possible would be if Unionists joined the Free State.