#IndyRef: An Open Question to Northern Irish Unionists (Only)…

In my experience Unionists tend to be the quiet men and women of the internet. Those unwise enough to put their heads above the parapet tend to be, erm, let’s just say, those of more incautious personality type.

In that silence lots of non unionists end up speaking on their behalf.

So, I come to a question. And it’s a fairly open one, but I’m going to put a rigid caveat on who can answer it. That is, no non unionists!.

If all we get is a deafening silence, then let that be the response.

So the question: Do you think that a decision in Scotland to voluntarily and with consent to leave the Union will destabilise Northern Irish Unionism? If so, how? If not, why?

I rely largely on your good will to let this play through in the way outlined above…


  • Gibby

    I’m an NI unionist. though living in england at the moment.
    The uncomfortable fact is that it would be a challenge to unionism, and would give (even more of) an identity crisis. Ulster Unionism most certainly isn’t an affinity with Englishness, and a UK without Scotland will become ever more dominated by England (rightly so). Many, given a choice, would rather pool sovereignty with Scotland then England.

  • No. While there would be sadness at losing Scotland, and fear for those who remain British within a more fractious Scotland. However, it would not affect any personal sense of Britishness. A Scottish vote has no impact on my citizenship.

  • chrisjones2


    The issue is that the DUP spent so much time on the Ulster Scots nonsense identity that Scottis Independence might impact some of the knuckledraggers who follow the band in the season.,

    But the reality is that around 1 million of the locals here have our own identify. We are not Scots. We are not Irish. The problem is that the cretinous wings in some Unionist parties who cant – dareant – have the word Irish near them may feel a bit MOPEish. . Very Brookboroughish!!

    The reality is I am Northern Irish. I am proud to be so and to be Unionist in character and to want a great relationship with the Republic too. If my fellow citizens shade that mix the other way good luck to them too. I can live with them feeling that – just as I can live with the Scots doing what they want

  • Alan N/Ards

    Gibby, That a fair comment. I would happily live in an independent Scotland and would have no interest in living in England. I’m not anti English (I had an English grandfather) it’s just that I feel at home in Scotland. Must be the Presbyterian connection.
    In my opinion, political unionism has done a great job in demoralising and destabilising the unionist folk anyway, so we are well used to it.

  • I’m Trending on Twitter

    Reality is you’re not going to get that choice, so can I ask you to be honest here, would you rather be governed by the Irish or the English? The choice is much simpler for Northern Ireland and there is at least an active in play comparator which Scotland doesn’t have, people here know what is on offer with the Dublin alternative. Scotland is still unclear, Sterling, Euro, own currency, all a big leap.

  • barnshee

    Good luck to the Scots If they go it can only confirm to the northern prods that opting out by part of an island (GB) by another part is a wholly acceptable strategy.

    (Hint SF are very quiet on it for that reason alone)

  • Alan N/Ards

    I’m not sure that both scenarios are the same. Scotland will become an independent country if they vote yes. If northern Ireland were to vote yes to leave the UK, we will be absorbed into another country. Until the Irish offer me something ( and they haven’t been trying to persuade me ) I’m happy to stay with the English. I don’t think it is as simple as you think.

  • I’m Trending on Twitter

    It is, as Scotland’s independence is ill-defined at the moment and rather hollow if it keeps Sterling and perhaps maybe even more so if it goes with the euro, our choice as an NI citizen is with the Ireland and we know what that’s all about, in fact some of the cases for an independent Scotland are all good reasons for us staying part of Britain and UK. Take privatization of the Health Service? Got that in Ireland. Dominated by English democratically, well try being dominated by Frankfurt undemocratically. Well balanced economy you want in Scotland well try the pro private sector, low tax, high public sector austerity doing the rounds in Dublin as a comparator. Pretty bloody clear alternative to me!

  • I’m Trending on Twitter

    IF anything Ireland is run along classic Tory lines socially and economically, all the reasons why Scotland wants to leave the UK are exactly the reasons for us staying part of it, as we know what the alternative is and it’s pretty bloody Tory looking! Even the party system in Ireland is uber conservative, for instance take the names of the main political parties they haven’t really shifted beyond civil war definitions.

  • Mike the First

    You mention both Britishness and citizenship – I’ve been thinking about this in recent days with the narrowing of the polls. There are some very challenging questions the rUK would have to face in light of Scottish independence, not least of which is what adjective you apply to a common citizenship/nationality across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. British? Something else? (Will the English, Welsh and Northern Irish share any common title?) That produces some clear identity challenges for the British of Northern Ireland. Does Britishness stop being a citizenship, a legal nationality, and become something else? Does whatever name is applied to UK citizenship become divorced from many people’s ‘national identity’?

  • Bryan Magee

    No it will not destabilise Northern Irish Unionism. We would prefer if Scotland did not leave because we see great advantages in cooperating within in the same polity. But the presence or absence of Scotland from the UK makes little difference in practical terms. There may need to be some cross-border bodies with Scotland to update
    the GFA, given that two neighbouring states will need to cooperate on
    practical matters. NI MPs will be a slightly higher proportion of the total but not that much more. It seems likely that NI MPs would be courted more by Labour, because they would be the ones needing the numbers. It will result in NI being located betwen Scotland and ROI and the could be advantages to this entrepot position. One likely consequence is that more powers are devolved to NI, especially over business and airport tax. Of course there are other smaller benefits: the West Lothian question goes away (it was never a question when Stormont was the only devolved parliament); NI students get free tuition again under EU law at the Scots Universities; there is more room in the BBC weather forecast as Scotland does not need to be covered; we can move the time zone so there are more hours of light in the Winter, the name for our country in Olympic and media references will have to be (the accurate) UK (not the inaccurate GB) from now on, to name a few.

  • Niall Chapman

    Can anyone tell me why unionists have such strong feelings towards Britain. Given the choice an Indy Scotland or UK gov would happily get rid of the north, so unionists are effectively a partner who doesn’t realise when they aren’t wanted, or worse knows they aren’t wanted but wont leave

  • chrisjones2

    We don’t ….its our own internal identity that counts and part of that is ‘British’ We own that identity. There will be many in Britain who would like us to leave. Some may want us to stay and others don’t give a damn. So what., They dont live here we do, Thats why SFs message was so hollow – Brits Out – yeah but what you have to realise is that bthere are 1 m of us here and we aint moving

  • chrisjones2

    Of course ….but lets wait 20 years and see how it works economically

    D’ont forget why Scotland and England were united in the first palace


  • chrisjones2

    I would rather be governed by people who were competent. I don’t care how they label themselves

  • JH

    ehhh, more like 700,000-ish.

  • Alan N/Ards

    I believe that the UK government were right in keeping us out of the Euro, and we need to stay out of it. I prefer Westminster rule to Frankfurt or Strasburg.
    I believe that the Yes campaign will be defeated because of the lack of clarity around the currency.

  • mickfealty


    You are not a unionist, are you?

  • willieric

    recent poll indicates 3.8 percent pro all ireland. The good people of NI are too mature to ignore the benefits of remaining part of the UK, as opposed to joining the bankrupt 26 counties. One million unioists is a modest estimate if my contacts in local grammar schools are anything to go by.

  • Niall Chapman

    Economically yes, aspirationally no

  • Jurassic Parke

    In terms of background, I feel very little connection or affinity with Scotland. I lived for the first 12 years of my life in the West Country, and my family is descended from English planters in Sligo.

    As (technically) an Englishman, in some ways the prospect of ditching Scotland excites me, but only in cynical ways like the prospect of a castrated Labour party.
    But I believe Unionism in Northern Ireland would be damaged by a Yes vote if unionist leaders cede the debate to the inevitable Sinn Fein gloating and agitation.

  • Twilight of the Prods

    An independent Scotland would weaken the value of Britishness, but would not dent attraction of the Union in the short or medium term. Scotland is for many Unionists the favoured bit of GB – but the identity of Unionists cannot be reduced to the Scottish link. Ramshackle as the Unionist identity looks, with components of Britishness, Northern Irish -ness, Irish-ness and the rather exclusive definition of Ulster – all in different quantities in different individuals, it is much stronger than people give it credit for – because its as organic, and as constructed, as any other communal identity. In other words, its just as real.

    If Scotland votes yes, now or in ten years, Britishness will lose an important component but it need not be a fatal one.

    However: long term – the effect of losing Scotland – could throw the internal centre of the UK completely out of whack – not because of a missing Scotland per se -but because of England – or rather the increased clout that the strongly Tory millions of the south and east would have; the rightward populist little Englander drift seized by UKIP; and the apparent bubble that the political class around Whitehall inhabit. These latter have been the handmaidens of the drive to Scottish independence. The Scotty dogs, the leek smugglers, and the fratricidal twins (thats us) don’t do Toryism much – and as such its become an English vice, which makes it actually somewhat corrosive to the union, given it is in power close to 60% of the time. The backbone of the Union (odd this) remains the Labour party – with strength in London, the midlands, NE England and the North West as well as Wales and Scotland. It’ll be weaker if 40 Labour seats go in Scotland. Ourselves and the Welsh would be sleeping beside an English giant – of an increasingly right of centre and self regarding type.

    Perhaps that would be time for the Taigs and Huns to unite and throw the plantation into reverse gear…all together now ‘Oh flower of Scotland…’

  • mickfealty

    Not sure I and I is in Babylon quite fits the definition Niall, sorry… 🙂

  • Slater

    If Scotland secedes from the union Northern Ireland is in a stronger position not least because of the territorial seas and airspace aspect. England would otherwise be seriously restrcted in that departmwent in relation to the North Channel.

  • chrisjones2

    You are right…I had inadvertently fallen into the sectarian headcount role

    But lets settle it an have our own referendum …even do it in 2016. But SF will run a mile from that

    Unionists should welcome – even demand – that

  • JH

    I wasn’t referring to peoples’ political preferences. Chris made the assertion that ‘Brits Out’ was hollow because there are 1m Brits living here. I was merely pointing out – before my comment was arbitrarily censored – that 1m is a gross overestimation going by the last census, which put the number around 700k. And the trend was not towards in increase.

    I’m genuinely interested in the opinion of Unionists on this by the way. But not in delusion, in actual practical, actionable information.

  • mickfealty


    I’m really not being funny, but the OP makes it pretty clear that if you are not a unionist then this isn’t the thread for you.

    The reason being that only unionists can answer for how they feel. Everything else (including numbers) is off topic.

    For goodness sake even I’m not even allowed an opinion on this one. 🙂

  • JH

    Fair enough!

  • I’m Trending on Twitter

    Well look at what happened in Dublin recently, the anglo tapes, the spectacle of the clowns running banks into the ground and needing IMF bail outs and austerity, bear that in mind, I can’t make your mind up for you, but hopefully that’s some food for thought.

  • Mick, why aren’t you allowed an opinion on this one, aren’t you a unionist?

  • chrisjones2


    How do you define Brit> Are you relying on religion again?

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    Other than from being annoyed that nationalists are smiling and perhaps just a sense of personal sadness (of varying levels throughout unionism) I don’t see how it’ll have any practical effect on unionist perspectives.

    Think of the different reasons that people have for being unionist:

    Stronger economy: Until the south recovers then this is still the case – No change

    British cultural ties – Unaffected – No change

    Sticking with the staus quo – slightly ruffled but ultimately … – …No change

    Hating SF – Unaffected – No change

    Not wanting ‘themuns’ to ‘win’ – Unaffected – No change

    Not surrendering – Unaffected – No change


    In a very optimistic frame of mind, it could be a welcome relief in a way.

    Depending on what deal is hammered out, would it be cheaper for students to study in NI rather than go to Scotland? Could then perhaps stem the brain drain a little bit?

    An independent Scotland (especially a republic further down the line?!) would make all this adoration for Scottish things slightly less appealing to those who would (and are) politicising the Ulster Scots idea.

    The idea (such as it is) that Ulster Scots are only Presbyterians is hokum. (To see how much hokum it is might I suggest reading a book by the brother of our very own Mr Joe: http://www.amazon.com/Tyrone-Triumphant-John-Harron/dp/0957498403 , a cracking read)

    If this takes the unpresentable mask off then so much the better, it might become a more cross community movement.


    Other than emotional attachment and perhaps a reduction in university choices, it’ll have very little affect on NI’s unionists (unless thousands choose to study down south instead, in which case a whole new avenue of attitude could open).


  • mickfealty

    Off topic!!!

  • mickfealty


  • Niall Chapman

    Nah your right , maybe I was bit antagonistic but it’s worth a thought, and something for nationalists in the north to think about also, because I doubt many in the south would be too keen on “reunification” so we’re stuck with two communities in one small area of an Island who can’t agree on the partner they want that doesn’t want them

  • Red Lion

    First thing, is that the moderator wishes to have thread where unionists can engage without the usual ding-dong with nationalists, understandably so so as to tease out insights without defensiveness, and yet some nationalists are on it like a car bonnet. ‘Head shakes.’
    My own view as a pro-union man. It would at first be unsettling but also interesting. Unsettling mainly due to the glee and goading that would come from sections of republicanism. It would destabilize political ‘traditional’ unionism who are one-dimensional creatures and cannot cope with anything that breaks their routine and the potential for all manner of flare-ups in NI is added to. Just another thing for people to shout about.
    Personally, although likely to be annoyed at the initial opportunistic shoutings, overall, I would medium term be fairly at ease with it, because, well I have to be don’t I?. I appreciate the Scots connection but I also dig the English connection. Ive never really got this ‘the union is with Scotland thing’, no it isn’t, its with the UK, and loads of my cultural reference points come from that part of the UK that is England. I would guess that things will settle down after break up, novelty will wear off and the reduced union will go on, and daily humdrum will continue.
    What this comes back to though, is that it is ultimately the consent principle that counts in NI. And with demographics, will at least a good 20% of Catholics plus most of the none/other remain unicorn-like? With the economics and with our contentedness in habits like the pound, GCSE’s, NHS, the Beeb and a nod to the Queen I’d say there’s a good chance of this different union carrying on.
    It would be interesting to watch how things develop in England, I think the main long term winner out of break up would be the English nation for a host of reasons, but this is getting into the more-difficult-to-predict long term. And with this comes the potential for an evolving union/constitutional set-up and all the permtations. Again this is long term. An English Parliament might finally wish to go indie itself but it can’t just walk away from NI.
    A lot of unionists would be bewildered at a yes vote. As they will be when they stop being in denial about demographics. On 1 hand with such things one might think political NI unionism is taking a kicking. Part of me likes part of this. But it might actually promote some self-examination and self-analysis which would be a monumental thing, as well as finally thinking about other ways of doing things, and I don’t mean a UI as such. The world moves on and at some point enough of unionism has to realise this and react with it not against it, perhaps recapture the mood of the signing of the GFA. On t’other hand in a yes vote, ‘a’ union of sorts would still remain, and secularization might be favouring NI unionism-lite. So perhaps not much changes anyway in aftermath and the usual entanglements remain.
    Bit rambling, but there u are. God its nice to know I can ramble freely about my unionism safe in the knowledge a few nationalists aren’t lining up to jump down my throat for my simply being a unionist, or to blame me for the potato famine…:)

  • Biftergreenthumb

    I disagree. I think that Scotland leaving the UK would have a long term impact on unionist identity. Even at the moment increasing numbers of English people consider themselves primarily English, Scottish people Scottish and Welsh people Welsh. The only people who consider themselves British are ethnic minorities in England (especially people of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi decent) and Irish Protestants here. If Britain ceases to be a single political entity being British will become increasingly meaningless and untenable for Northern Irish people. This will result in an increasing attraction to a Northern Irish identity and a consequent softening of attitudes to all things Irish. A generation who identify as Northern Irish rather than British will be less threatened by the idea of a United or New Ireland and a rational debate (rather than one based on irrational feelings of identity with Britain) will become possible. As the union disintegrates Unionism as an identity position will be weakened.

  • Gareth Wallace

    As Norn Irish, in fact probably Irish Unionist born in Belfast to a Dad from the South of proud Scottish (Wallace) name and a Mum from English/Huguenot stock but living in London and happy to call the English my friends I am in despair…I despair that in a world and country full of political atomisation we are once again seeking to leave things and make stuff even smaller in an effort to prove the grass is greener on the other side…The UK economy is growing, the EU is not working well, yet the EU doesn’t want to reform, so UKIP are on the rise, the SNP are on the march and SF are emboldened. Surely the ‘positive’ and ‘progressive’ future could actually be a Unionist soft Tory one? A more federal UK with Scotland still in, with the ROI embraced, with Wales given more powers with England respected and not blamed. Especially when one looks to the middle east or Russia for how ethnic or religious conflict keeps getting worse in the modern world…Instead we could have progress masquerading as Sinn Fein on the march towards holding the balance of power in the South. With an eventual switch to them holding the FM post as Unionist splinters more post Scotland in the UK. In the future demand for a border poll would be intense. (Though could be an issue stopper if it was held.) Meanwhile Scotland could be suffering from a messy UK divorce where more blame will be heaped on the English over the £, Trident, pensions, border controls, EU and Nato membership. To cap it all the English could then have their own internal crisis with the Tories going into UKIP meltdown and Labour not really knowing what to do…What a mess when the answer is much more of us becoming good old fashioned Tory Wets or even Irish Unionists?!….

  • Gareth Wallace

    At the risk of making a completely crazy suggestion…perhaps the future of Unionism is to offer to host Trident? The submarine repair base of Harland and Wolff and the fortress of Stranford Loch (dredging) or Loch Swilly? (too close to Derry?) I realise the issues of nukes anywhere in Ireland but for jobs and Britishness it would be hard to beat as an offer from Ulster’s Unionists to the English? Certainly towing the coulport naval armament depot to Ulster waters would be allot closer than any other options!

  • Gibby

    genuinly crazy

  • Gareth Wallace

    Thanks! Just floating it out there….if that isn’t a pun too far?

  • gunterprien

    How old is the word “tory”? And you think Ireland is outdated.
    Do men in dresses still open Parliament? And what about those Snazzy Titles and plummy accents?
    And you think Ireland lives in the past.
    Are you for real?

  • Bryan Magee

    Here is my take on your interesting questions:

    *what adjective you
    apply to a common citizenship/nationality across England, Wales and
    Northern Ireland. British? Something else?

    I think British will be the title.

    Britishness stop being a citizenship, a legal nationality, and become
    something else?

    No I think it would continue to be a citizenship.

    *Does whatever name is applied to UK citizenship become
    divorced from many people’s ‘national identity’?

    No I think that you would still have the British and the Northern Irish levels of identity going on.

    I think the Scots will have the bigger problem: many of them today feel British but they will begin to see that they have lost that.

    The term British will be needed to describe the combined Welsh English and Northern Irish.

    What will change is that Great Britain can no longer be used as other than the name of the island – all the GB branding will go.

    In the Olympics the team will be renamed TeamUK from TeamGB.

  • Smithborough

    While an independent Scotland won’t have much effect on my own personal identity (I’ve never been that keen on all this Ulster-Scots play-acting) and political preferences, it will have an effect on the Union.

    If Scotland leaves, the United Kingdom will end up as a very strangely shaped entity, with Northern Ireland even more geographically detached than was the case before.

    The UK will be dominated by England; maybe we will end up with “English” as opposed to “British” passports. There seems to be a rising sense of English national identity, in a worst case scenario, what happens if England does to the UK what Russia did to the USSR and decides to secede and leave Wales and Northern Ireland to sink or swim?

    Even in a less pessimistic scenario, there are very few direct ferry routes (for example) to the rest of the UK, all of our imports and exports will have to come through Scotland or Ireland. If the newly reduced UK then decides to vote itself out of the EU, we will end up potentially with duties on all of our goods right, left and centre and with an inconeniently shaped border to re-customise; not a great option.

    Dissident Irish Republicanism will probably see Scottish independence as a great opportunity to advance the cause of a united Ireland. This is likely to be done the way they know best, which is by trying to start a civil war in the hope that they win the ashes off the battlefield.

    All in all, the idea of Scottish independence fills me with much foreboding.

    I see that Peter Robinson is currently talking about the possible collapse of the devolution settlement, as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening in Scotland. Are we going to end up with more years of limping from one constitutional crisis to another?