I think today is the day to recycle one of my previous blogs: in it I will examine what strategies might be adopted by unionists if confronted by the dread reality of waking up in a united Ireland; as an alternative they could just pull the covers over their heads. Actually as I have previously intimated I am most dubious that this Sword of Damocles will fall on our heads; still on with the blog. Can I say at the outset that this is somewhat tongue in cheek but I felt today was the day etc.
As some may remember the following discussion owes more to the early 1990s Cloisters coffee table than much else. Whether the inevitable united Ireland so beloved of some of our nationalist and republican posters comes by a 50%+1 vote or by some nefarious sell out by the British government the reaction by unionists would probably be shock, disbelief and then a great deal of anger. How long that anger would last is difficult to be certain of. How it would manifest is also difficult to be sure.
I suppose one thing which must be stated is that violence could ensue. I would state yet again that I personally am totally opposed to violence and whilst personally not a pacifist; I cannot see circumstances in which I would use violence to stop a united Ireland. Some might, however, but I am not prepared to discuss this issue as I am certain the overwhelming majority of unionists would oppose such a thing and I will not allow this blog to be used by assorted supporters of violence of any sort to set their unacceptable stalls out. Violence could indeed happen; I would hope, argue and pray not.
The first thing to note is that all unionist divisions would probably be forgotten overnight. I am pretty sure almost all unionists of all parties we would all be fraternal brothers again. There is nothing like an outside threat to unite people and Ulster Prods are notorious for fighting and arguing (look at the number of denominations we have) but to quote one song on the siege of Derry: “And when we close our gates again then we’ll all be found true blue.”
To those who think all those very nice middle class unionists they like at work would not care: I am sorry to disabuse you but very many nice apolitical garden centre Prods are actually really very extreme. They may not even vote but I suspect they would be pretty spectacularly angry in a united Ireland. Unionist loyalty to the state is often based on a feeling that it is an agreement or “covenant” between the citizen and the state. In a united Ireland that covenant would be irrevocably broken; as such obeying many laws and edicts of the government would no longer be seen as necessary. Do not quote “render onto Cesar” by the way as many scholars suggest that that is far from a conciliatory statement as the Jews held that everything was God’s and hence; actually nothing was Cesar’s. I strongly suspect tax evasion, smuggling and such like would suddenly be seen as almost a unionist’s moral duty.
Politically then what might happen. Well I suspect that a policy of utter uncooperativeness would be the most likely. It would also probably provide a conduit for angry unionists and might thereby reduce possible support for violence.
In the Dail, I would suggest that unionist TDs would be wise to simply cause as much trouble as humanly possible: use every chance to attack the other parties, disrupt the chamber, get thrown out frequently, filibuster whenever possible, refuse to stand when it is appropriate. Essentially adopt extremely childish and difficult behaviour. Why such a strategy? Well because it would make the government’s and other TDs lives miserable in the Dail, it would bring the Dail into disrepute, it would damage and undermine the standing of the RoI. Clearly we would also manoeuvre to try to bring down every government, stop or hinder the passage of every government bill. We would have to sabotage things like investment conferences by turning up and causing trouble.
This would in my view maximise the chances of getting concessions, and what concessions we would demand. We would be wise to demand the earth, the moon and the stars and keep causing trouble. At some point the unionist electorate might tire of this and get rid of the trouble making unionists. I suspect, however, that this would take years and a surprising number of concessions, both important and purely symbolic could be won.
Just to suggest some of the concessions we would demand:
Ending of the use of the term republic. For unionists that term conjures up connotations of the IRA and as such is unacceptable. The state would merely be Ireland.
Ending of the office of president. The president is supposed to be a uniting force. Unionists would not accept any unity with the rest of the population and as such could not have any loyalty to this figure. It would be ludicrous to accept such a person and as such their office would merely be an insult to unionists.
Removal of Irish from use in the state. Whilst I personally am fairly liberal on Irish, most unionists are not. I suspect demands to remove terms like Taoiseach would be inevitable. On a related note removal of all requirements in state life to have any ability at or qualifications in Irish would be essential.
Removal of the National Anthem. The anthem is seen by unionists as divisive and sectarian (Saxon foe etc.) and as such would be unacceptable. Until removed, I would advocate sitting down every time it was played. I would also suggest that new anthems pretending that the state was united and everyone supported this would be foolish. As such I would suggest that unlike most countries the new Ireland should make a point of having no anthem.
Removal of Flag. That flag (so often draped over the coffin of the murderers of the unionist population or used to mark territory) would be utterly unacceptable. As such we would demand its removal. Again I would advocate having a policy of having no flag as we could give no allegiance to the flag of our oppressors nor pretend we were happy with unity.
Addressing the imbalance in the Garda. I am not an expert but I believe that there are extremely few Protestants in the Garda. As such massive positive discrimination would need to be demanded; yet of course we would discourage unionists from joining. Remember I am not trying to be logical or reach consensus here; this is war by another non violent means.
Changing the name of Connolly station. It is an unacceptable form of sectarianism that unionists traveling to Dublin have to alight at a station named after someone we regard as a terrorist. In the interim and as a form of non violent protest I would advocate people repeatedly pulling the emergency stop cable on the Dublin express just before its arrival at Connolly.
Ending of the Angeles. To have a specifically Roman Catholic religious event before the state broadcaster’s six o’clock news is utterly unacceptable in a supposedly secular state and as such would have to go.
I am sure many sluggerites can think of other things to demand.
Essentially what I am advocating is an Uncivil War or actually the strategy used by the Irish Parliamentary Party or indeed unionists at Queen’s Student’s Union throughout my time there. I was actually quite good at this. Maybe a united Ireland would provide me with an opportunity despite my lack of charisma, talent and looks to be a real politician. That is worrying; I have seen a fun and interesting possibility in a united Ireland. For absolutely everyone else, however, I suggest you need to hope 50%+1 never happens or alternatively I develop more sense before it does happen. Now before you all denounce me as an even worse bigot than you all suspected, remember it was (largely) tongue in cheek.