One small region, slightly damaged, several careless owners…

Mary Dejevsky has written a piece for the Belfast Telegraph that will go down well in some quarters and not so well in others. She is suggesting that it is time that the British government off-load Northern Ireland by one of several routes: including independence, secession or to offer to sell it to the Republic of Ireland.

Her objection handling is quite interesting, for what it ignores as much as what she deals with, like religion. There is no mention of ‘Britishness’ as an issue at all. In contrast (and perhaps scarily for those who will challenge her logic) she goes even further and suggests Irish unity:

“…would make cultural, demographic, and geographic sense. At once, the security of Britain and Ireland would be enhanced. The biggest bonus of all, though, would be that relations between Britain and Ireland, as sovereign states, would become normal in a way they have never been in recent times.”

This is unlikely to prompt a reasoned debate in Belfast. But the reference to the savings to the British exchequer suggest that it is an argument that isn’t aimed at audiences here at all, anyway. Or if it is, maybe it is as much a warning about the reality of cuts as anything else.

But politically, if they are being asked to take the lead, that is what should scare unionists…

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  • Christy Walsh

    Some might liken the offer of sale to the burglar offering to sell his stolen pruck back to the house holder.

  • Blair


    It’s quite a simple minded piece penned by someone who appears to have absolutely no knowledge about Northern Ireland whatsoever. I must admit though that as a unionist I was absolutely terrified by what impact this Belfast Telegraph article might have on the constitutional position of Northern Ireland.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    I don’t know who Mary Dejevsky is, but she deserves a new box of crayons for this super effort at grown up journalism.

    ‘Sell’ NI to Dublin? Joke right? Independent NI? Yeah nobody’s actually considered that one before.

    All the usual guff about how expensive NI is and how no-one in GB is interested in things like parades or the Claudy report. Well newsflash Mary you won’t find a wild lot of interest south of the border either. Fact is as long as the murder rate is low no-one outside NI could give a stuff about the place or it’s impenetrable squabbles.

    Go read the GFA. Do keep up dear.

  • McCarthy Óg

    England has no use for the six counties whatsoever. Time to get rid. It’s the last embers of a dead empire.

  • William Markfelt

    ‘I don’t know who Mary Dejevsky is’

    She writes for The Independent, where the Belfast Tele get all their proper journalism from. She’s their main editorial writer.

    Elsewhere in the paper this week she argued that if you put a cost on having a baby, rather than the state providing, then it eradicates child poverty.

    I’m sure you can draw your own conclusions.

  • McCarthy Óg

    You should be terrified. After all, David Cameron and the rest of the coalition government are notorious for reading articles in the Belfast Telegraph and acting upon their advice.

  • turnpike


  • Christy Walsh

    Blair, or maybe we are not so complex. Did you really have that level of apprehension over a news paper article? Unionists, we are told, are inherently insecure over the union -is it really worth all that?

  • edgeoftheunion

    This is brilliant. A direct cut and paste of her by-line in the Indy

    One of the country’s most respected commentators on Russia, the EU and the US, Mary Dejevsky has worked as a foreign correspondent all over the world, including Washington, Paris and Moscow. She is now the chief editorial writer and a columnist at The Independent and regularly appears on radio and television. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Buckingham and the author of the introductory essay to .

    So what happened? Are by-lines restricted to a certain number of characters? Poor shoddy cheap work.

  • JAH

    What saving would there be? I’d reckon a quarter million minimum would start moving into the mainland. The huge Ulster diaspora of the past 40 years would accelerate.Think of the dole payments.

  • Blair


    Well exactly. Ken Clarke for one doesn’t get out of bed until he has read the Tele from cover to cover.

  • Blair


    You’re right. The constant worry, the sleepless nights etc. You get over it and then suddenly something like this appears and it all comes hurtling back to you.

    Perhaps we would be better off in an all embracing Ireland of equals after all.

  • Alias

    Sell it to the Chinese. They have the cash.

  • Pat Penguin

    I own a small group of islands in the South Atlantic and was wondering if anyone here would be interested in purchasing them.

    Sensible offers only please.

  • Alias

    “Go read the GFA. Do keep up dear.”

    Actually, the UK parliament is sovereign under Dicey’s Doctrine so any act of parliament (including the Northern Ireland Act 1998) can be repealed by parliament. Ergo, your ‘right to self-determination’ is bogus, being subject to the discretion of the sovereign British unitary state. So she is correct in that regard (that the UK can do what it likes with the region).

  • socaire

    I take it you mean the British mainland as yez are already on the Irish one?

  • Blair


    And indeed the region can do whatever it likes with itself.

  • anne warren


    Are you suggesting loyalty to Westminster only for as far and as long as it suits, reserving the option to refuse to abide by whatever Westminster may decide?

    Are you expressing conditional loyalty?
    If so, what are the conditions?

  • Blair


    I would suggest that if Westminster dumped us then we would no longer owe her any loyalty. Doesn’t that seem fairly logical to you?

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Absolutely correct Alias but given the vast amount of time & resources ploughed into the peace process, not to mention the staggering cost in terms of lives and money during the troubles, it would appear unlikely that the British govt will announce a withdrawal/sale/whatever in the absence of a 50+1 border poll.

    But then again Mary’s masterful analysis and exciting list of solutions may be just the ticket to solve the NI ‘problem’ once and for all.

  • Aldamir

    I am not convinced by your case Alias. While Parliamentary Sovereignty may be a doctrine in national law, it is not one in international law. I have read quite a few of your posts and you seem to be a student of the doctrine of self-determination. Clearly self-determination is a doctrine of international law not national law. It could be argued that the GFA grants Northern Ireland self-determination as both the British and Irish states by an international agreement recognise the right of the people of Northern Ireland to determine whether they wish to be part of the UK or Ireland. As such it is arguable that there is a limited right of self-determination contained in the agreement. Clearly as an international law concept such a right may be more theoretical than real, but it does seem to be there.

  • Reader

    socaire: I take it you mean the British mainland as yez are already on the Irish one?
    ‘UK mainland’, I expect. It’s a natural enough piece of terminology for a unionist posting from NI (which is in the UK but clearly not on the mainland).
    Of course, I detect that the term is a bit of a shocker for the more closeted sort of republican. But you can’t expect everyone to share your perspective.

  • joeCanuck

    Not that it really matters but those are what are known as sunk costs. That money, those lives, aren’t coming back.
    But I guess the journalist was writing with tongue in cheek, the silly season not quite haven’t ended yet.

  • Christy Walsh

    Dejevsky suggests two islands of equals –then we can start worrying about banks and cutbacks like the rest of the world.

  • anne warren

    Blair wrote “I would suggest that if Westminster dumped us then we would no longer owe her any loyalty. Doesn’t that seem fairly logical to you?”

    Actually it does not.

    If Parliament imposes a tax rise I am not at all happy. I may not have voted for the governing party but I pay the extra taxes. I also abide by whatever other laws I may not agree with although I reserve the right to voice my objection and campaign peacefully for repeal in Parliament.

    So as a British subject I may not agree with Westminster’s (hypothetical!) dumping of NI. You see it as dumping. I see it as the will of the British people as expressed in Westminster Parliament.
    If I didn’t agree with it I could voice my objection and campaign peacefully for repeal in Parliament
    It would not be a question of abandoning or switching loyalty.

  • Blair


    Er, what would give you the right to voice your objection or campaign for repeal? It wouldn’t be your parliament any more.

  • Blair


    On which island will the orangemen get to march?

  • socaire

    The UK is not a country so it can’t really have a mainland. At a stretch Britain can be called a three country island and can be viewed a mainland from, say, Scilly. But to call us black people nigroes is still knowingly trying to offend.

  • anne warren

    Contact with British people sharing similar views, discussion in the media, pressure groups, events, questions in parliament etc etc and so on and so forth.

    The same means that everyone uses to influence/shift public opinion if they don’t agree with a certain law or policy.

  • Drumlin Rock

    ack Nevin you beat me to it, was about to post that, tell you what here is a cut and paste for those who hate links!
    “November 23, 2009 – The Inane Mary Dejevsky
    the mind-numbingly stupid Mary Dejevsky seems to belive that diplomats should not be allowed to be divorced, or should lose their jobs if they do divorce.

    …it has come out that our man in Yemen, Tim Torlot, is living at his official residence with an American journalist, who is expecting his baby… does the Foreign Office have to be quite as indulgent as it appears to be when the face of Britain abroad trades in a long-time partner

    Wow! Ambassador has a girlfriend! Absolutely shocking. How did the Independent miss this one off the front page? But hasn’t this happened before somewhere? Mary reminds us:

    The courage of our (former) man in Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, in exposing torture, seemed to blot out in the generous public mind the fact that he had installed a cabaret dancer in his official residence.

    And plainly that was much more important than the torture stuff eh? And even worse than an American journalist, a cabaret dancer. Whisper it quietly.

    I hope that none of this will “blot out in the generous public mind the fact” that Mary Dejevsky wrote this shameless gushing puff piece about murderous co-dictator of Uzbekistan, Gulnara Karimova:

    What is certain is that Karimova is the product of a unique moment in history, her fate caught up between two ages and cultures: between Soviet Communism and its chaotic, free-market successor, between Asia and the West.

  • Blair


    Is this before or after they stop governing us?

  • Drumlin Rock

    Iain Dale also completely deconstructs Mary for having a dig at him, this woman is classic!

  • joeCanuck

    In other words, Anne, politics. Does work after a fashion.

  • Reader

    socaire: The UK is not a country so it can’t really have a mainland. At a stretch Britain can be called a three country island and can be viewed a mainland from, say, Scilly. But to call us black people nigroes is still knowingly trying to offend.
    What a strange post. The UK is a country, as the UN or the EU can confirm:
    As inspection of a map will confirm, the UK clearly has a mainland (that’s the big bit to the east of me).
    Your reference to black people is outrageous mopery. I live in the UK (as per the Good Friday Agreement and the subsequent referendum), but not on the UK mainland (as per the map). If you don’t like those facts, ignore them. But you needn’t imagine that my casual expression of identity and belonging makes you a victim, any more than your identity makes a victim of me.

  • anne warren

    either or both

  • Christy Walsh

    How about the wet strip between them? Are you for real –the orange men will go to which ever island they can march?

  • Christy Walsh

    I should say that was not intended as a rejection to them marching in London or Belfast –but they should do so with some respect, for those who have reason to dislike/distrust them.

  • Cynic

    I just think it great to see the Indy advocating slavery – selling the NI Prods to the Republic

  • Munsterview


    Should’nt that be, that they will go to whatever Island that they are NOT allowed to march in ?

    If the OO were able to march in a welcoming environment or worse, to complete indifference with the protest element removed what is left of their culture?

    Of course they could always transfer the 12 to Arthur Guinness day and there would be no culture clash……. the majority could join the Irish boozers and the TT could join our Holy Joes on the sidelines saying what a disgrace it all is!

    There problem solved……. and Arthur Guinness was a Prod….what more can they ask for?

  • Munsterview

    Now hang on one bloody minute here…… who said anything about prods being included ? No bloody way: for a start the C of Ireland types would have a mass emigration or start a civil war just when they were settled in nicely.

    Its the product not the prods….. the six counties. Belfast, Portadown and one or two areas could be used as infill for a rather large lake up there and that leaves two large development potential sites ready just in time for the next building boom.

    Think about all the construction workers, Ryan Air back with a 24/7 every hour on the hour service to Poland. The Ryan Air weekend Rome excursion taking a differend OO band every week to protest at the Popes appearance on the Vatican…….. before slipping inside for tea just like they do with the president.

    The ryan air specials to the New Cougar town built on the Aran Islands with Iris R as mayor welcoming all the Blue Rinse Brigade to the street of a thousand tea houses while the the husbands are off annoying the Pope etc.

    A certain solicitor running weekend courses on how to buy a back yard for a fiver and sell re sell it for telephone nuimbers……. that would bring in the punters flocking from as far away as Australia and New Zeland. Recession…what recession?

    I must run this one by the Stormount Shinners office to morrow.

    This has definate possibilities!

  • The north is slowly, walking on egg shells toward some kind of accommodation, and in comes a woman with hob nail boots.

    Sometimes you have to smile, didn’t the Russians sell Alaska to the US for $100,000? Dollar down and a dollar a month anyone?

  • wild turkey

    Pat Penguin

    ah but your islands are surrounded by seas of oil, yes? while here in the north there is no oil, but lots of spuds

    why not do a package deal and open a chippy?

    for cod and ulster perhaps?

  • wild turkey


    dead on. remember this

    In 2003 Samuel L. Jackson was interviewed by Kate Thornton on British T.V. about working with Colin Farrell in S.W.A.T. when the following conversation took place:

    Kate: What’s it like working with Colin, ‘cos he is
    just so hot in the U.K. right now.

    Samuel: He’s pretty hot in the U.S. too

    Kate: Yea! but he’s one of our own!

    Samuel: Isn’t he from Ireland?

    Kate: Yeah, but we claim him ‘cos Ireland is beside us.

    Samuel: You see that’s your problem right there. You British keep claiming people that don’t belong to you. We had that problem in America too – it was called slavery.

  • DoppiaVu

    I read the Indy every day and only very occasionally does Mary Dejevsky’s name appear, so I was surprised to see that she is “the chief editorial writer” at the Indy, and that she is “One of the country’s most respected commentators on Russia, the EU and the US”.

    But then a quick bit of googling revealed that these nuggets of information actually come from the website of a Mulcahy Conway Associates – a literary agency for whom she works, who clearly have an interest in “enhancing” their assets.

    Anyway, the piece looked to me like a bit of an attempt to be tongue in cheek, so I’m not sure that it deserves (or was intended) to be taken overly seriously.

    Looking at other people on Mulcahy Conway’s books (excuse the pun) I notice Mitchell & Webb are in there. Shame they didn’t write the piece, probably would have been a bit more amusing.

  • Blair


    So two islands of equals for everyone except Ulster Protestants then. Have you any theories on why such a scenario might not be all that attractive to them at all?

  • Blair


    So if it is afterwards then who is governing Northern Ireland while your appeal goes through?

  • socaire

    No! no! The UK is a state made up of several COUNTRIES and bits of countries. Is Europe a country? This may be pedantic semantics to you and your ilk but most of the natives see it as just another wee dig like ‘Ulster’ and the ‘province’. Admittedly, some use it unconsciously but some don’t. Likewise, we use Derry but you should know better as you are our betters. All this hankering for the mainland – hope it comes good for you ….. someday.

  • Christy Walsh

    Blair, “So two islands of equals for everyone except Ulster Protestants then.” If that is what you read from what I wrote then it is because that is what you wanted to read. But that is not what I wrote, hinted at, or implied.

  • Blair


    You gave them a choice between the Irish Sea and ‘whichever island they can march’. Are you saying that the Ireland of equals would indeed want them, and allow them to march? I’m getting very mixed messages from you. Can you clarify please?

  • Millbag

    I have an idea. In the film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, all the dodgy weather around the globe starts mass evacuations, and I think I remember it mentioning people in Belfast/Banbridge being evacuated down south because of a tidal wave/temperature drop or something off the Antrim coast area (can’t really recall to be honest).

    Anyway, all the Brit Govt has to do is engineer some bogus crisis/natural disaster and start the ‘evacuation’. Then when all the people in the six counties have been displaced across the border they’ll be forced to share and integrate.

    As for the deserted six counties, claim a nuclear accident has flooded the place with radiation and it can’t be inhabited for 100 years. Or, if they’re really feeling sly, just nuke the place.

    Who says 6 into 26 doesn’t go?

  • Pat Penguin

    Pat Penguin
    ah but your islands are surrounded by seas of oil, yes?

    That’s correct Wild Turkey. I’m currently involved in negotiations with the Argentine mainland regarding drilling rights.

    Unfortunately the Argentinians aren’t interested in my windswept hell-hole; so I’m offering the islands only for a quick sale.

  • Skintown Lad

    The natives, eh? Good luck with that argument

  • Rory Carr

    This piece by Mary Dejevsky certainly seems as no more than an exercise by that great female columnist stereotype, Polly Filla, trotted out as a piece of space stuffing on a day when she couldn’t come up with anything insightful.

    But while her solutions to the tedium of British citizens having to endure the never-ending litany of grim news from Northern Ireland are patently ridiculous she does at least draw attention once again that the simple fact that most Britons really do wish that Northern Ireland would simply go away, that it is foreign, nothing to do with “us”, let Ireland deal with it, we don’t want you anymore – in fact we never did, just bugger off!

    While Nationalists will be easy enough with this attitude saying, “Well, that’s what we’ve been telling you for ages,” I imagine that Unionists will be less than happy hearing this same sentiment (which they know in their hearts to be true) repeated once again.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Of course Dicey was never one for contradicting himself here Dub. He angrily disagreed with Parliament passing an Act giving home rule to the free state. He believed that Parliament had no power to do such a thing.

  • Reader

    socaire: The UK is a state made up of several COUNTRIES and bits of countries
    Do you think your assertions carry more weight than the EU? The UK is a country – though that doesn’t matter, since *you* first used the term ‘country’ in this discussion, not me. My original point only depended on the UK being an entity with recognised boundaries. I note you have just acknowledged that it is! The GFA will help to point out where the boundaries are.
    As for your second point, the mope: like many people I self-censor in mixed company to avoid giving offence. However, I have as much of a right to use an implicit British frame of reference as you have to use an implicit Nationalist frame of reference. If I was ever going to abandon that right, I wouldn’t do it on a debate forum like Slugger. I am sure we will both be able to cope with the fallout.

  • Socaire,

    The UK and the EU are entirely different political institutions.

    England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales use the same currency; is treated as a single unitary state by the EU, the UN – where it is one of five permanent members of the security council – the World Trade Organisation, the G8 and NATO, among others; issues passports to its citizenry; has the same constitutional monarchy as head of state; has a centralised supreme legislative authority in the guise of Westminster which could – if it so wished – abolish devolved government administrations, can legislate on reserved powers which effect all parts of the UK and consists of members drawn from all four constituent countries; share the same postal service; and has a combined defence force.

    Sounds a bit like other countries – and not the EU – to me…

  • Sidewinder

    Imperialism, or at least what is wrong with it, is one nation ruling over others with a dictat from the centre. As Barroso puts it in comparison to the EU,

    The problem of imperialism is therefore one of lack of consent. A united Ireland is therefore more imperialist than the present constitutional status, since presently a greater number consent to the state they are living in than would be the case if there were a united Ireland.

  • Sidewinder

    It’s a self contradiction though. Like saying that in a state where >50% vote to kill a proportion of it’s own citizens, or deny them a vote, has a legitimate democratic mandate for doing so. The act itself is a negation of the democracy. In the terms of the enlightenment writers it would be a breach of the social contract.

    I would accord Great Britain the right to “secede” from the present UK as it were, but it has no right to give Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland without the consent of Northern Ireland, just as a man may divorce his wife, but has no right to sell or gift her to a new husband without her consent. The contract is two sided. A state does not own it’s citizens, as a man owns inanimate property, it has a two sided contract with it’s citizens. The rights to physical land boundaries itself flows from the consent of the will of those constituent on it. This is different from the legal land ownership. If the UK government owned the land of Northern Ireland it could sell it to the Republic of Ireland government, but it could not sell the right to make laws upon a democratic basis within those boundaries.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    If I may add to your point it is that Westminster may also legislate over devolved matters, indeed she has already done so sometimes without consulting the devolved civil servants, the Terrorism Act for example which impinges on Scots law. And importantly the UK could vote to leave the EU whilst Scotland could vote to leave the UK but would need a majority in the house of commons to be able to do so.

    All Scotland has is the promise from Thatcher down that the settled will of the Scottish people would not be ignored balanced against the real power of what is effectively a foreign parliament.

  • lamhdearg


  • lamhdearg


  • Munsterview


    You cannot have it both ways, you live in a constitutional monarchy, you are not a citizen, you are a subject and as such De Jura the Queens property every bit as much as one of her corgies !

  • socaire

    OK guys, I admit I’m wrong. I don’t live on mainland Ireland. I live on offshore Uk.

  • socaire

    You have the rights of the conqueror. You have the rights of superior force. Enjoy!

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Kinda dispells the myth that all yanks are thick and all English are very worldly. Mentioning Kate Thornton reminds me painfully of present xtra factor (I have no choice but to watch it what with the missus and the weans) presenter Konnie Huq who was absolutely bewildered, totally dumbstruck as to why she had these otherwise ordinary white people attacking her as she ran through the streets of London with the olympic torch.

    From what the experts tell us Ireland and Scotland are saveable but the English education system is effed. I mean isn’t Tibet supposed to be where Richard Gere retired to.

  • Sidewinder


    Not sure if you are entirely serious, however the social contractarian view applies to constitutional monarchies.

    You might actually wish to find out what the Battle of the Boyne was actually primarily about. tip: it wasn’t primarily about repressing Roman Catholics.

  • Paddy Matthews

    I’d reckon a quarter million minimum would start moving into the mainland.

    Entschuldigen Sie bitte, sprechen Sie Ulster-Scots?

  • Munsterview

    “….Not sure if you are entirely serious, however the social contractarian view applies to constitutional monarchies…..”

    In the spirit of understanding and outreach, why not explain these concepts in some detail. I for one would be most interested in reading your take on it.

    As I have previously written regarding the Boyne, the Pope and King William were on the same side on that one. The Pope……

    a) fully supported King William politically as he the Pope was also a Ruler of a State head with political priorities……. which as in the case of most Popes before and later, got priority over spiritual issues.

    b) send a considerable financial sum to King William to prosecute the war

    c ) send him a corps of drummers that performed in the battle of the Boyne and stayed on with the Williamite forces afterwards……. there is in fact a good argument to be made that that the lambeg drums are similar to the Big Italian war drums of the same period…… so how about a wee prayer for the Pope before banging off in future

    d) publicly prayed for Williams victory before hand,

    e) rejoiced at the news of the victory and had bells rung in all the Roman churches in celebration

    f) ordered solemn High Masses sung in celebration all through Western Christendom.

    Comments welcome!

  • Cormac Mac Art

    It can be offered as much as you like, but until there is a demonstrable desire in Ireland to take Northern Ireland into its state, NI will remain part of the UK.

  • lamhdearg

    Nobody biting then.Best start in many a year. all praise be to Allal.Orr Wee COUNTRY.