Northern Ireland split over Irish unity

From the Belfast Telegraph a new poll on identity gives the following response:
42% said they considered themselves Irish
39% British
18% Northern Irish

And on unification:
36% in favour of United Ireland
55% to remain in UK
(Can’t quite find out the missing 9%)

Interestingly on expectations:
Will NI still be part of the UK by 2021?
Yes: 42%
No: 42%

Here’s the BBC report – Irish identity tops new Northern Ireland Poll.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Does anyone know what the percentage of northern nationlists who would poccess an irish passport? The reason I am asking this is I can’t understand why they are not allowed to vote in presidential elections if they are citizens of the “irish nation”. It seems to me that they are being treated as second class citizens and are maybe seen as not really irish by politicians in the ROI. Or maybe they just don’t want the northerners upsetting the status quo when it comes to voting for their President.

  • Mack


    The reason I am asking this is I can’t understand why they are not allowed to vote in presidential elections if they are citizens of the “irish nation”

    They are entitled to vote along the same lines as every other Irish citizen – there is merely an additional requirement that voters have residency within the state. A Dubliner living in the USA is as equally restricted in voting in presidential elections as an Irish citizen in Newtonards.

    This is pretty much in line with the curent constituition which affirms northerners, who so wish, to be part of the Irish nation, but accepts that Northern Ireland is part of the UK.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Surely there is difference between a dub living in the states and someone living on the island of Ireland. For decades politicians (in the south) claimed that the six counties which make up NI were part of the Irish nation. Is there some legal reason why Irish citizens who live in this part of the “Irish nation” cannot vote in Presidential elections? Has any nationalist party in NI ever tried to obtain the vote for their supporters?

  • Mack

    Alan –

    Is there some legal reason why Irish citizens who live in this part of the “Irish nation” cannot vote in Presidential elections?

    Yes, that particular part of the Irish Nation is sovereign territory of the United Kingdom. A Dubliner moving to Belfast, Glasgow or Madrid won’t be able to vote either.

    If it were extended to nationalists in the north – the demand would be to extend it to Irish citizens across the globe. Not neccesarily a bad idea, but in practice that is what it would mean. Unless you are suggesting that Britain share sovereignty (or hand it over to Ireland), or perhaps that the south lay another unilateral claim?

  • Stephen,

    Many good points there.

    we have a varying want of a United Ireland from those who really want and would fight for it to those who say they want it but hate the south?! (perplexing in itself)

    Not so perplexing. There are equally as many working-class “unionists” who have little connection to or faith in many things British. The reasoning is the same in both cases – they cling to an identity less out of love for it than out of fear of the other.


    Donegal, Monaghan, Dundalk

    To an extent. But they have been separate from NI for nearly a century now. That’s a lot of unshared history covering the shared stuff.

  • Alan,

    Does anyone know what the percentage of northern nationlists who would poccess an irish passport?

    And compare that with the number of unionists who have an Irish passport?

  • Munsterview

    “Or maybe they just don’t want the northerners upsetting the status quo when it comes to voting for their President”.

    Has it slipped your mind that both our current President and her husband are from the North East of Ireland and was elected to her position despite what could only be described as constant, hysterical, irrational opposition of the Indo. newspaper group.

    And with good reason, by any yardstick of civilized decency her family were uninvolved in the conflict, yet she had a near relative deliberate targeted and left for dead while her parents family were forced out of their property and left without shelter, their home and business destroyed. This is what Harris and other Loyalist cheerleaders did not want the South to hear, especially from somebody speaking with Presidential Office credibility!

    The result; these terrible traumas inflicted on her family are seldom mentioned and when so doing she is brief, factual and with a minimum of emotion. Instead she has opened the Presidential door not alone to Shankill working Class Protestants, she has also welcomed people cast from the same mould as those that destroyed her family home and parents livelihood.

    More so; her husband Martin introduced representatives of these same people to Southern business contacts to raise funds for soccer clubs and other activity. Where is there an example of such generosity of spirit towards catholics or nationalists from an authority figure on the ‘other side’ from 1969 to 2010?

    Unfortunately the mean-mindness, ( a few decent exceptions aside ) that in general greeted Naomh Galls magnificent victory over the weekend is far more typical of what can be expected from that quarter !. And yes when comes to bergrudgery we can find their equals down here too without too much difficulty and a plague on both their houses for it!

  • Cormac mac Art

    These people are like those that read the Indo – they will always be with us. But that does not mean they represent widespread Irish opinion.

  • Cormac mac Art

    “So can we consign the sentimental dream of a UI to the dustbin? A sentimental dream which has cost countkless lives and which the southern governments didnt have the balls to say ‘Forget it. We dont want you. That might have saved lives”.

    BryanS – Might I remind you that the IRA were fighting for UI, not the southern governments.

  • Alias

    “A nation is a distinct race or people characterized by a common descent, language, or history, usually organized as a separate political state and occupying a definite territory. This term only applies to Ireland as a whole in the sense that it do to Malta or Iceland, to name but two other European Islands Nations.”

    A nation is whatever the Irish constitution says it is (articles 1 to 3), since if you seek to challenge it you will do so in the Irish Supreme Court who will refer to the Irish constitution for its definition and not to the Oxford dictionary.

    It did apply to “Ireland as a whole” prior to the GFA, but it now only applies to Ireland (excluding the separate jurisdiction of Northern Ireland). Anyone born in Northern Ireland is born as a member of the British nation, and is no longer born as a member of the Irish nation. Their “birthright” is no longer Irish nationality but rather the entitlement to the right to apply to the Irish state for Irish nationality. If you do not apply for it, you are not Irish, and remain with the default nationality that you were born with, i.e. British. That is a subtle but substantial change.

    This doesn’t apply to the Irish nation within Ireland since its default nationality under international law is the nationality of the state in which a member of that nation is born in order to avoid being a stateless person under the relevant convention. So people in Ireland are born Irish and people in Northern Ireland are born British.

    “As I do not have a copy of the G.F.A to hand, can you kindly reference for me that section where it specifically says that there are two nations in The Six counties?

    Article 1, paragraphs (v) and (vi).

    “In the 1922 treaty…”

    Sorry to cut that off but partition is now fully endorsed and fully legitimised and all parties have signed up to it, so there is no point recounting history that is no longer relevant.

    “Whatever of the intent of the G.F.A. it is now regarded as little more than a necessary evil by a large body of Republican and National opinion, something to use and go along with until something better comes along.”

    I’m sorry but Ireland no longer holds any sovereignty over that so it cannot pander to those who do not recognise the gravity of constitutional and international law and who enter into such binding agreements in bad faith. The British Irish Agreement is a treaty that was signed between two sovereign states, and which the Irish government cannot unilaterally abrogate. If the British state gives its permission to allow the fickle ilk to change their minds then said ilk can duly change them but other than that the British state will use its sovereign veto to do what vetoes are designed to do.

    “What I have been proposing here is New Politics for a New Ireland and that includes the Governance of all Ireland.”

    Most of us like Ireland and like being Irish, and don’t see that the state has any right to collude with a foreign government to destroy the Irish nation and its culture in order to promote the culture of another nation when the proper function of the state is to promote and protect the culture of its own nation.

    “This could be down to a misunderstanding of what a Federal Solution means. However given the overall tone and content of your piece I suspect that it is a deliberate misinterpretation with a view to misinformation and setting red herrings aswim.”

    Oh I think I have you pegged right. You wish to carve the Irish nation up into small, manageable groups so that it presents less of a challenge to the separate British nation. Divide and conquer. You constantly proffer the loss of Irish sovereignty to the EU as a selling point to the separate British nation, hoping that they will be reassured by how powerless it is to determine its own affairs, and that is the purpose of your proposal to carve the remainder of it up into smaller groups that might develop their own “ethos and identity” that is distinct from the Irish nation that they would be split from. You never speak of strengtening the Irish natin, only of weakening it. In that respect, you are a victim of those who wrote the GFA – Whitehall and the Security Services. You are not an Irish nationalist.

  • Alias

    By the way, although you asked me to quote the GFA, I quoted the British Irish Agreement [Article 1, paragraphs (v) and (vi)] since the GFA has no relevance to Ireland, being an internal agreement between UK political parties and which excluded all Irish political parties. The British Irish Agreement is the only document that is binding in Ireland.

  • Mack

    Andrew –

    To an extent. But they have been separate from NI for nearly a century now. That’s a lot of unshared history covering the shared stuff.

    By that definition no region outside of Northern Ireland can have a shared history with Northern Ireland. That’s not something I would accept.

    Simple logical challenge – would Monaghan town and Keady have a shared history and more in common with each other – than say Keady would with Bangor and Monaghan would with Dun Laoghaire?

  • BryanS

    I think you deliberately miss the point. Let me spell it out.
    If southern governments had had the balls to say we really dont want you in a united ireland, it would have saved a lot of lives. Instead they allowed the sentimental dream to continue to exist knowing that it would never happen.

  • By that definition no region outside of Northern Ireland can have a shared history with Northern Ireland. That’s not something I would accept.

    Well, everywhere has some shared history with everywhere else. Stephen overstates his case, but his general point is valid. North and South have drifted apart since partition – it would be surprising if it were otherwise. The issues that exercise nationalists in NI have little relevance to those that interest the majority of southerners.

  • Mack

    I think Stephen’s case is probably stronger for the East of Northern Ireland than the West & South. The West and South have much more contact with their southern hinterland.

    Also the northern areas of the south – particularly Donegal, Monaghan, Dundalk are significantly different from (most) of the rest of the south in terms of the issues that interest them (e.g. NI’s troubles & politics puts most southerners to sleep, but tend interest border southerners a lot more).

  • Cormac mac Art

    I think you deliberately miss the point. Let me spell it out.
    If southern governments had had the balls to say we really dont want you in a united ireland, it would have saved a lot of lives. Instead they allowed the sentimental dream to continue to exist knowing that it would never happen.

    BryanS – It was a straight response.

    Successive Irish govenerments had made it clear that they would only entertain a united ireland by consent, not by the forcible means of the IRA.

    The IRA did what they did without reference to anyone else but themselves. Nothing that the governments said over the years changed that.

    If you are suggesting active Irish support for the IRA you are way off the mark.

  • stephenlmcc

    Mack I can agree with your observations regarding similar histories. My point was that in the grand scheme of things, the current state of NI has a unique history within NI and that makes quite a strong case for our nationhood if not statehood. The province of Ulster is historically quite unique in Ireland and has always defended its position – I personally see it as a pity that religion was used as the deciding factor in 1921 regarding the border as the three have more in common with us.

    I would also agree that the East of NI has had its artificially created history in the Unionist state. If we had more evenly spread development from ’21 onwards there wouldn’t have been the problems that contributed to the troubles in Derry. I firmly believe that the downfall of NI and the want of a UI in the catholic community can be directly blamed on James Craig and the goverments that followed. Lord Londonderry was our education minister and tried to bring in Integrated Education in the 20’s… The catholic church stopped him. Perhaps his state school system would have been biased towards the UK but would the troubles have happened? Would we have the figures above?

    On the above point – The Catholic church continues to raise its ugly head in our education system with their abolition of catholic grammars! Those grammar schools that we needed originally to get jobs and now we are closing them. They should be proud.

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk


    You make some good points.

    IMO, I think that a lot of Catholics will still always favour a UI.

    However, the North has moved on a lot since the days when I grew up. Despite what some Unionists try to claim, there was massive discrimination against Catholics, in votes, housing, jobs , the B Specials etc.

    While the North has moved on, one has to say that a fair amount of Unionists only did so because of bad press abroad (especially the US), A gradual realistaion that no-one on “the mainland” really regards them as British and the changing demographics in the North.

    However, we are where we are. In answer to your question, I think that there is a fair chance (especially in the current economic climate) that Catholics may be happier in the UK or some some of federal solution if there was a truly fair and equitable society in the North.

    As I said, things have improved a lot but there is still work to be done.

    Frankly, Unionists will never have a better chance to win over Catholics than in the current economic climate.

    David Trimble, for all his faults, realised this earlier than any other Unionist. I heard him speak once and he effectively said “we have to bring the Catholics with us if we want to maintain the Union” although to be honest his tone seemed to imply that this was a reluctant last resort which didn’t impress me.

    I totally agree that the challenge rests with Unionists to win over Catholics.

    There are some encouraging signs – Cameron is no bigot and Empey has changed a lot over the years – as has Robinson.

    IMO a big step would be for the DUP/UUP to face down the OO. Their membership is declining rapidly and (apart from a few parts of NI) their PR image in the UK is abysmal.

    Why is Saulters et al able to summon Empey + Robinson at will?

    The bottom line is that most Catholics don’t care if they march 24x7x365 in areas where they are welcome.

    I don’t care if they march in “contentious areas” as long as they speak to local residents – agree to restrictions with the Parades Commission and accept sanctions if those restrictions are broken (i.e the UVF Sam Rocket Banner).

    Therefore, I do accept that if Unionism can rise to this challenge – it is indeed possible that they could start to make headway in the Catholic community.

    However, the amount of votes that the TUV got in the European election and the fact that Empey + Robinson still seem to have to explain themselves to Saulters indicates to me that Unionism still has a distance to travel.

  • Michael Gillespie

    Why not change the U.K.Constitution?

    As a belated response to the question of identity in N. Ireland it’s interesting to note there is a trend among the younger generation to identify as —Northern Irish –. Since I live in Derry/Londonderry I qualify to be called –Northern Irish—but I’ve a difficulty with that. If I call myself –Northern Irish because I live in Derry/Londonderry what of the people of Malin Town, are they not more— Northern Irish— than I am?. So the identity of —Northern Irish – doesn’t hold up in logic. I can then call myself Irish or British. I don’t regard calling myself British as logical either so I’m stuck with the logical identity Irish and recognise that the people of Derry/ Londonderry and the people of MalinTown share a Northern Irish and Irish identity in common.

    The finding that 55% of population surveyed uphold the U.K. Constitution reinforces the claim made by Federal Unionism –Early Sinn Fein that the state of N Ireland is constitutionally unstable and this instability spawns violence in the state both in the past and in the present. The huge spate of conflicting responses in Slugger further strengthens the argument that an imposed unwritten constitution has given rise to protestant, catholic conflict and the conflict needs rational and logical resolution. When it comes to the maintenance of a constitution a marginal majority of 10% is insufficient. A Constitution needs the support of the vast majority of the people. Suppose the American Constitution was upheld by 55% o the people and rejected by 45% of the people a turmoil of violence would be the order of the day in America.

    Since the U.K. Constitution here is in dispute as a reading of Slugger makes clear the rational and logical thing to do is reform it. Such reform can’t be done for a bit of the island but would have to be done for all of it. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland should be changed to the Federal Kingdom of the Sovereign Nation of Ireland and Great Britain or vice versa. The detail of this can be found in the novel —THE WAY IRELAND OUGHT TO BE—available from Amazon Books. Since U.K. constitution has historically been a bone of contention on the island the logical and rational thing to do is reform the dammed thing and create a constitution that is acceptable to the vast majority through out the island.

    Michael Gillespie Federal Unionist- Early Sinn Fein Derry/Londonderry

  • Munsterview

    Posted by Michael Gillespie on Mar 19, 2010 @ 08:06 PM

    Michael just in and getting up to speed with the postings.

    It seems to me that this ‘Unwritten British Constitution’ is nothing other than one great myth propagated by those who want to keep the general public in ignorance. For anyone attempting to get their rights from the ground up, very little definite there even in the much vaunted Common Law. However once an issue was important enough to make it to the Law Lords, as the legal system was, there was no such difficulty in conjuring up all sorts of legal precedents to support decisions, usually in favor of the establishment and status quo.

    I lay no claims to having little more than a lay persons insights into English Law as practiced in the their courts. I do however have more than a few of English friends of my own vintage that I meet regularly through a History Society a couple of times a year. I have toured parts of France and French Battle Fields with them for an extended holiday period with plenty of time for relaxed discussions.

    They are a fine, intelligent questioning tolerant bunch, hardly surprising as most are also Fabians of the Old Left School of politics. Time and again I have heard issues relating to the constitution discussed and the consensus view is that the existing legal nebulous situation is maintained because it suits the controllers and hidden hands of Britain just fine as it is!.

    Under the U.S. Constitution any adult, law abiding, adult has the right to bear arms, in most English City Centers their English counterparts cannot carry a camera without attracting the attention of so called anti-terrorist police and other such covert forces. Just how much more open and oppressive control must the English State exert on the lives of ordinary citizens before ( the large recent pro-camera rallies aside ) people wake up and say enough is enough?.

    In general most of my English friends favor having their rights spelled out and written down in a collated coherent way, but there is the great obstacle, in that, if the difference between citizen and subject is starkly clarified and identified, there will be an inevitable questioning of Crown privileges etc with some of the extent of the real control of the ruling elites exposed!

    A constitution, or in the case of Britain, some sort of a bill of rights and privileges for accepting subjects would be desirable and a step forward in the rights of ordinary citizens, and who knows, perhaps even as a milestone on the road to a Republic!

  • Michael Gillespie

    Munsterview writes: –

    It seems to me that this “unwritten British Constitution” is nothing other than a great myth etc.

    So you disapprove of an unwritten constitution. So does Federal Unionism-Early Sinn Fein so you are preaching to the converted. But this constitution is more than a myth. It has been and remains in Ireland /N. Ireland a bone of contention for generations. Federal Unionism- Early Sinn holds that this bone of contention be taken from the belligerents and be replaced with a written democratic constitution expressed in the National Government of Ireland Act and made acceptable to the vast majority of the people of this island. Such an Act could contain a statement on rights and freedoms.

    The give away line in Munsterview’s statement is this: –

    “ and who knows perhaps even as a milestone on the road to a Republic.”

    So the notion of a Republic as a road to unity in Ireland is being trotted out once again. Republicans have been saying this for over 200 years but that goal of
    Unity remains as distant and as far removed as ever. It has to be faced by Irish Republicans that protestant loyalist Ireland has effectively blocked the road to Irish unity as a Republic. For protestant loyalist Ireland central to their historic psyche is loyalty to the Crown. Some home truths will have to be faced by Irish Republicans about loyalty. Loyalty is a praiseworthy valuable human attribute be it loyalty to friend, family, organization, congregation or the Crown. As such loyalty in a democratic state must be freely expressed. In the 26 county statelet the right and freedom of loyalists to express loyalty to the Crown was suppressed and trampled underfoot by Republicans. The protestant loyalist community voted against the state with their feet by walking out so that protestant loyalists are as scarce nowadays on the banks of the Shannon as Sioux Indians are on the banks of the Mississippi. On the other hand after 1921 the catholic community in the 6 county statelet increased and multiplied under the Crown.

    Irish Republicans resemble Australian Aborigines. The Aborigine people believe that the Aborigine people dreamt the earth and universe into existence. Irish Republicans seem to believe that Irish Republicans will dream a United Ireland into existence. It is high time the Republican Rip Van Winkles woke up to face the hard fact that the Loyalist Community of the Sandy Row in Belfast have written on the wall for All to see this fact: –

    “ We will never swap the blue sky of Ulster for the grey mists of a Republic.”

    And when the loyalist people write that they mean that and when Ian Paisley shouts NEVER—NEVER —NEVER – he means that. So a United Ireland as a Republic is simply not on because in crazy stupid campaign of bloodshed and destruction masterminded by Adams and Magennis, the Provisional I.R.A. blew deep impassable craters milestone by milestone along the road to unity as an Irish Republic. On top of that the G.F.A. has institutionalized sectarianism and copper fastened partition on the island and has driven unity as a Republic beyond all hope of achievement.

    But Federal Unionism – Early Sinn Fein points to a better route to Unity on the Island. It is in the reform of U.K. Constitution to a Federal Constitution that can be made as acceptable to the Catholics of Kerry as t o the Protestants of Derry. This is possible feasible and doable in the National Government of Ireland Act if the will for that can be found. However the Act should not adopt loyalty to a British Crown as such loyalty has been rejected historically by most of the Irish People. The Act should adopt loyalty to a reformed Crown making loyalty to a reformed Crown acceptable to all. The detail of this is available in the books—THE WAY IRELAND OUGHT TO BE—and —THE RAPE OF VIRGIN MUNCHINDUN— both can be got from Amazon Books.

    Michael Gillespie Federal Unionist – Early Sinn Fein Derry/Londonderry

  • Munsterview


    The not so tongue in cheek reference to a republic related to England itself! However I will reflect in detail and reply.