So, if there is a border poll, what might a Yes Ireland campaign look like?

On this morning’s Sunday Politics, the Bel Tel Political Editor, Liam Clarke said that a poll will appear in tomorrow’s newspaper stating that a majority of those surveyed would like to see a border poll. Clarke did not go into who would win such a poll if it is held, but I thought I would pen some thoughts I have been developing over the past few months.

Last week I was in Scotland to live blog the referendum as the results came into the Edinburgh Count Centre. I was lucky that I was able to get around the room and chat with some of Yes Scotland who strategists who were watching as 55% of Scottish voters crush their dream of an independent nation. What went wrong? I asked, I thought this was supposed to be close? When one of them bluntly answered me “kid, never believe your own hype, always have an answer and get your bloody voters out.” This answer was given to me as the low 75% turnout figure had just come in from Glasgow. But, it did get me thinking what kind of campaign could Yes Ireland run if a border poll was approved. Here are some top tips that I would encourage political leaders to think about;

  1. Get the question right-One thing that Better Together campaigners found was really difficult was the appearance that their campaign was negative and this was largely due to the fact that they had conceded the wording of the question to the Scottish government. In our case, if the question is “should Northern Ireland remain part of the UK?” and not “should Northern Ireland join the Republic of Ireland?” Then immediately the case for unity is defined in a negative posture. Sounds silly, but the border poll campaign will be framed around the ballot question.
  2. “United we stand, divided we fall” Another striking thing for me from Yes Scotland was how many of them actually disliked the SNP, but were willing to set down the party membership cards for this campaign. I have always long believed that any campaign has to involve the wide range of parties and groups North & South that support unity. When it comes to the crunch, Unionism will come together to fight this campaign and republicanism needs to be equally as united when it makes the case.
  3. Healthcare, Healthcare, Healthcare-The good old NHS! Republicanism needs to before it plans any other part of its campaign get some common agreement between the main parties about how healthcare will be administered in a united Ireland. In my view, if Yes Ireland is not promising a universal system, it is on a road to a hiding and needs a common platform that says “in a united Ireland, the government will legislate for a universal system free at the point of use.” Argue for a system that is more efficient and puts an end to long waiting lists, take those lemons and make some lemonade, by taking the current problems in the HSC and address solutions that a united system can give.
  4. Constitution-Another area of common agreement has to be on constitutional reform. There has to be new clauses on recognition of British culture on this island and what we will do to protect this in a united Ireland. In my opinion, we need to go further than just commonwealth membership, I think we need to be bold, consideration should be given to mandatory coalition in the Irish government for Unionists for a period, keeping Stormont and possibly offering another referendum within 7 years if the constitutional promises offered by the Yes campaign are not honoured. These are just some ideas, but any constitutional review, would need to be chaired by the European Union and not the Irish government. I am not arguing they all are adopted but we should debate them.
  5. Economy-Unlike the Scottish example, we can actually envisage the economy we will be joining in a border poll. Unionism will trot out its usual line of “blue skies of Ulster, grey mists of the Republic.” Yet, what on paper seems like a solid argument, I think is really quick-sand. When you look at most of the indicators of prosperity and future trends the Republic of Ireland is miles ahead of Northern Ireland. We need to talk up the strengths of job creation, enterprise and living standards that exist already in this country, whilst being honest about failures and how they can be addressed.
  6. Our place in making major decisions-Northern Ireland, in my view has suffered from the fact that for decades we have been basically shut out of the main corridors of power. From 21-72, we had what Jim Callaghan once referred to as glorified “county council” and today we have the Executive. We are at the moment 2% of the House of Commons, yet under unity we would be 25-28% of Dail Eireann. As a campaign Yes Ireland, cannot honestly say a yes vote is a way out of poverty etc., but it is a vote to give us the capacity to make our circumstances better. It is about putting Northern Ireland back as a central player in a sovereign parliament.
  7. Nation building-Republicans can draw upon many nation building traditions, yet there are many of these same traditions on the Unionist side that any campaign needs to incorporate. I am thinking of Edward Carson, when he spoke of governments respecting minority rights and rejecting factions, Lord Londonderry with his radical education proposals and William Grant, who gave Northern Ireland free healthcare. These traditions from Unionism are for me a sense of pride and a key to drawing in the Orange part of the flag.

There are things in here that I have not addressed. But, if we do in the future get a border poll, these are just some things that a Yes Ireland campaign will need to address and debate before it sets out its plan. At the time of writing I read a tweet which for me captures the attitude that republicanism needs to adopt perfectly

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.” – Anatole France

If those wanting a poll are not going into it with a the belief of winning, then it is pointless. Yes Scotland people were so shattered on the night because they thought they would actually win it. It was not entered into to make a point, rather it was to begin a conversation and conclude with independence. Republicanism has enough campaigns that did not end in success to draw upon, this possible future campaign needs to focus on success and how it can accommodate and respect those who oppose it. It cannot be about taking down symbols of Britishness or settling old scores, rather it has to be about building things up and incorporating new aspects to our wider island wide identity.

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  • Turgon

    All of the above is all very well. However, very quickly the “positivity” of a “Yes Ireland” campaign would deteriorate into a sectarian headcount in order to try to get as many Catholic / nationalist voters as possible to vote for unity. No doubt we would hear lots of “freedom” nonsense.

    If a campaign did not try the headcount strategy it would almost certainly do worse as people in Northern Ireland (and probably the RoI) would be worse off following a United Ireland. Hence, a sectarian headcount might help overcome the negative economic arguments. Emotion which would be sectarianism in drag (with assorted non plausible denials and a few token letsgetalongerist window dressing Prods) would be the best option.

  • Interesting read David,
    In my opinion a border poll should be conducted simultaneously North and South á la the GFA, after all, it will affect those south of the border as much as people here, particularly if your points above are considered.
    I know that another of the SF mini border polls will be announced in the coming week and, while these tend to be a foregone conclusion, this one may have wider significance within a particular demographic

  • Turgon,
    I’d not underestimate the emotional reaction on the nationalist side. There is also considerable evidence of nationalist under representation electorally

  • Zig70

    The big question for me would be who was leading it. If SF leads it then it will be harder to battle Turgon’s outdated hope that the roi is the worse economic choice. They will find it difficult to promote a country which is not in their image and then we are into this new Ireland waffle which fall cold on non SF vote. If FF where to lead it then the economic argument could be won and possibly the vote. And let’s face it, the vote will be won inspite of unionist objection. The key is to get the support of the typically non voting middle class northern Irish, which may entail doing your best to appease unionist fears but will probably be swayed more on economics. As it stands, I’d expect to see my wages go up, my tax bill down a fraction, my rates drop a hell of a lot and a better health care service.

  • ben

    The Scottish result shows that wealth and prosperity will win the vote. Whichever side promises most wealth and show that it can realistically be achieved will win.

  • Bryan Magee

    The economic arguments would dominate everything else.

  • Flintopher

    Good post – as someone more agnostic on the union you touched some of the key points that might sway me towards a UI. I’d hope that any date set for a poll would be far enough in the future to allow both sides to develop serious arguments to put across, something I think a UI Yes campaign really lack at the moment. Hopefully that’d also help move away from a sectarian headcount.

  • Old Mortality

    Would FF actually support a united Ireland in current circumstances?

  • smcgiff

    FF? That’d be like asking Jack the Ripper for a character reference.

  • Robin Keogh

    David, I dont believe the Health issue needs to be an issue. Universal care is on its way in the republic and in any event the people of the 6 counties can be given a gaurantee that their health services will remain untouched whilst the rest of the country catches up.

    As far as business is concerned, its a no-brainer. Northern Companies would find it hard not to come out in support of unity if it meant they would benifit from corpo tax reduced by 50% Moreover, the currency border would dissappear and the islands domestic market would increase substantially. This will also attract more FDI..bigger market = bigger profits.

    The souths minimum wage is higher than that in the North, also pay in general is better south of the border, meaning that Unity will most likely raise the average income substantially.

    Taxation is comparable north and south with southern tax payers slighly better off than their northern counterparts, most indices point to the South having a better standard of living.

    Welfare is far more generous in the south than in the North, pensioners and those who rely on other forms of social welfare would be financially better of with Unity.

    There is a lot to be positive about

  • smcgiff

    NI has not yet put sufficient distance between itself and its troubled past.
    It would be folly to drag this up now with very little prospect of success. It certainly wouldn’t pass in NI and it would struggle to pass in the ROI, imo.

    I would like to see a UI, but the risks of sectarian violence occurring would be too high.

    There is another difference between the Scottish referendum and the proposed NI referendum. It wouldn’t be a breaking away to become a separate country, but the joining to a fellow EU member state. Would official Britain put up much of an defence of the union as they did to retain Scotland. I doubt it.

    What would be interesting is if there was a referendum and Britain (—> Mainland) remained neutral and the vote was to remain in the UK, would there be ANY possible legitimacy for even dissidents to continue with their violence?

    And that brings me back to what I said at the start – the ROI would not be a slam dunk for a pro yes – the violence that has occurred in NI over the last 30 odd years has the potential to separate us while it’s memory is still so fresh.

  • Zig70

    I don’t think they would pass up the chance to make SF irrelevant and they do style themselves as the republican party. The top of it’s constitution is to secure in peace and agreement the unity of Ireland.

  • gerry mc dermott

    The economic reasons for the Union are defunct,if the 26 counties can emerge from the disaster of the last 6 years (as it is),and GB manages with racist UKIP help,to vote itself out of the EU,a border poll might not be even needed.

  • Zeno1

    I’m not sure about that. We need at least £8 billion to stand still. Where would it come from? The ROI don’t start to repay their Bail Out loans until next year ,so it’s a bit premature to be assuming they are out of the woods just yet.

  • tmitch57

    When the Zionists began to settle in Palestine in a major way during the British mandate the argument was that the Arabs would welcome this as the introduction of European capital and expertise would lead to greater employment and raise the general economic level of everyone. Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the prophet of the Zionist secular Right, argued that this was insulting to the Arabs as it expected them to sell out their national birthrate for a few economic advantages. Jabotinsky was right and the mainstream Zionists were wrong. This argument applies to unionists and nationalists equally as well as it does to Arabs.

  • Bryan Magee

    The main NI nationalist party would lead it – currently SF.

  • Bryan Magee

    That’s the big economic issue and certain to dominate the debate were this YES vote held in the forseeable economic future.

  • Michael Henry

    The YES campaign ( if looking for a United Ireland is going to be described as the YES campaign then the Unionists will be a NO campaign once again- and it will do them no harm )-could be ran under a Committee including all interested party’s / groups / people- it’s spokespeople could include anyone who wanted to see a United. Ireland-

    According to the Belfast Telegraph the majority of people want a poll- but will the Secretary of State allow a democratic poll now just a few days after she voted to send the Brit bombers into another’s country-there is blood on her hands-

  • Pasty2012

    The time for a United Ireland referendum would and should be held along with the election to Stormont in 2020. This would allow people the time to come to terms with the natural progression of Democracy. In 2020 there would be a far better economic situation and also a far better prospect of getting a positive vote. As for the question being YES or NO I don’t think either side would give way on that and the questions will both be Positive in a “Do you want to remain part of the UK ” or “Do you want to become part of a United Ireland” neither requiring a YES or NO merely an X at the appropriate preference. Both then avail of the positive message.

  • Kevin Breslin

    So much about modern politics comes down to personality politics:

    Firstly hopefully Liam Neeson, Bob Geldolf, Bono, James Nesbitt and especially Rory McAroy would keep their res privitas away from a border poll on a new Republic, but I doubt they would.

    Secondly the leaders – Mary McAlease is the only real hope of a respectful Yes vote, you’d have every one from Kenny, Martin, Burton, Adams, McGuinness, McDonnell all the way to Luke Ming Flannighan having a go.
    For the No side similarly you’d need to avoid a similar bunch of potentially toxic politicians maybe David Trimble would be acceptable enough now

  • Kevin Breslin

    Honestly, I’ve paid some morsel of that debt, I’d rather work that debt off than get paid for no opportunities in the North.

  • Old Mortality

    So FF will jump on SF’s bandwagon and tell the Irish people that it is their sacred duty to support 198,000 people who are either unable or unwilling to work?

  • Old Mortality

    Not to mention the price!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Universal care is on its way in the republic

    Aren’t they only after taking medical cards away from pensioners ? Sounds like the opposite of universal care to me.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It is a requirement of the GFA that a poll must be conducted in parallel in the two jurisdictions.

    This is why, I think, the Northern Ireland Act requires that a poll will not take place unless the Secretary of State (ie the government) think it is likely to result in a UI. There is obvious potential for instability if all 32 counties added together vote for “yes” while a majority in the six vote “no”.

  • Comrade Stalin

    There is also considerable evidence of nationalist under representation electorally

    Is this another way of saying that we have to count Catholics who don’t vote SDLP/SF like they’re supposed to ?

  • John O’Brien

    Another good post. However it should really be stating the obvious that the pro-unification side should have detail and policies. It’s almost 2 years since Sinn Fein began a campaign to start a ‘debate’ on re-unification – all of which seemed to end when they couldn’t answer what would happen to the NHS.

    Because “Ireland is moving towards unity and independence” in 2005, Sinn Fein did release a Green Paper discussing on how unity would work. http://www.sinnfein.ie/files/2009/greenpaper_23feb05.pdf
    The paper is hardly substantive. It essentially outsources thinking and planning to a “commission” and the Irish government (perhaps this will be a demand in coalition in the South). Sinn Fein would have a point if they complained that part of the problem is that southern parties have abandoned considering a united Ireland.

    As far as I can tell, the last proper economic study of unification came 30 years ago in the New Ireland Report from DKM consulting. The Report wasn’t particularly comprehensive either, but concluded:

    “There is also an economic concern in the perception of unionists in the North which is shared by nationalists. Studies by the Forum show that while living standards, North and South, are now broadly comparable, the North is heavily dependent on, and its economy sustained by the financial subvention from Britain. While a settlement of the conflict entailing an end to violence and the dynamic effects of all-Ireland economic integration would bring considerable economic benefits, reconstruction of the Northern Ireland economy and the maintenance of living standards in the meantime would require the continuing availability of substantial transfers from outside over a period of years, whether from Britain, the European Community and the United States of America, or from Ireland as a whole.”

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/politics/nifr.htm#frame

    It’s notable that even at the height of the Celtic Tiger, there was no increase in support or even consideration of a United Ireland from Unionists. That’s either because the benefits were not articulated or something more inherent.

  • Zeno1

    There are opportunities everywhere. There are even jobs if you look for them.

  • Robin Keogh

    You need to go and check that again

  • Zeno1

    “The YES campaign ( if looking for a United Ireland is going to be described as the YES campaign then the Unionists will be a NO campaign once again-”

    Not necessarily. The wording will have to be negotiated and with the lesson learnt from the Scots, no one wants to be in the No Camp.

    Do you want to remain in the UK………YES.
    Do you want a United Ireland……………YES

    Would be my solution to the problem.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I checked it. Medical cards are available to the over 70s only on a means-tested basis (according to the HSE here. That did not used to be the case – correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t medical cards used to be free to all over-65s ?

  • Robin Keogh

    With the low interest rates on Irish bonds the governement have already started to replace the bail out debt with cheaper loans which will save billions over the next few years. Exchequer returns are growing faster than expected as is employment while the economy itself is now growing well beyond expectations. New FDI coupled with the planned expansion of many foreign companies seems to be the driving force behind a lot of the recovery however there has been a marked increase in the number of new home grown businesses springing up. Numerous reports from at home and abroad point to a pretty sharp upturn with growth figures surpassing all expectations, it looks like we are well and truly in pre-boom mode. Given the continuing massive export surplus and the dawning natural resource bonanza, we are going to need Unity to keep the show on the road.

  • Robin Keogh

    Excllent Comment

  • Kevin Breslin

    There are plenty of opportunities to work in the Republic of Ireland too. Indeed there are three times the opportunities there than Northern Ireland, more in Britian, more in Europe, more in the Rest of the World. Not the issue. I don’t need to be told that I have to believe it’s better to be paid in pounds than in Euros or whether HMRC is better than the Irish Revenue office, or the national debts comparison.
    There are brilliant opportunities to develop real and relevant skills in the damaged Republic’s real economy than in the North where the state pays substational sums to fund work and internships.

  • Zeno1

    Have you got a link?
    I remember last year or the year before reading that the Top Exporter in Ireland didn’t actually export anything, but merely processed sales made in Europe and Australia to avoid tax on those sales. An economy built on facilitating tax dodges and allowing the big corporates to pay little or nothing in tax will not have legs. It is a short term fix and a pretty good one in the circumstances, but it all looks a bit House of Straw to me.

  • Michael Henry

    Yes all around- sounds like you don’t want no one to win or no one to lose- which is a admirable position to take- but for the fact that a lot of sacrifices were made to get where we are today- never mind for the final democratic referendum push-

  • Zeno1

    I don’t understand your point. If you want to develop some idea or business in the ROI its about 50 miles away from Belfast. What is the problem?

  • Robin Keogh
  • Zeno1

    Cheers. That’s what I was talking about.

    Google Ireland Ltd (Google) was named the largest exporting company, moving up one place from its previous year’s ranking.
    Google’s export turnover increased by 36.5%, from €12.5 billion in 2013 to €17 billion in 2014.

    Sooner or later that tax loop hole will be closed down. What happens then is anyones’ guess.

  • Robin Keogh

    Thank God they are not the only exporter on the island so

  • Zeno1

    17 billion is a lot though when all of it is completely fake. There is a solid core of exporters in pharmaceuticals and food exports in particular, but the IT Companies and the likes of those using the Irish Dutch Sandwich Tax Avoidance schemes are creating a misleading picture of the health of the Irish economy.

  • Robin Keogh

    I suppose its down to what is sustainable and what is not. Do u have a link that shows its fake?

  • Zeno1

    If you mean Google’s 17 Billion in European and Australian Sales processed through their Irish Office, I will have a look for a link but since Google could not possibley have made that sort of volume of sales in Ireland alone it’s a bit pointless..

  • Robin Keogh

    Its not that unusual for a company to process much of its international sales through one regional headquarters, the important point in terms of benifits to the local economy is the impact it has on employment and whether or not the headquarters are an empty office or a thriving employer of thousands, thankfully where google, Microsoft etc are concerned the latter seems to be the case. Although it is comforting to see growth in areas such as food and drink which are well rounded native industries. Thankfully the bigger picture is healthy and the future glowing so, steady as she goes.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    David

    As things stand, even if the ‘yes’ campaign did learn from something from the Scottish campaign it all comes unstuck when the no (or never! never! never!) campaign kicks off; flegs, fear mongering, emulating 100 years ago, feeding the people the idea that a UI will be a SF run state with mass expulsions, revenge etc.

    These are major obstacles.

    I believe the economic argument can be rammed home (but not by SF). Things are thankfully progressing down south and there are encouraging signs: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29365484

    There should be more of a noise made about the potential a low corporation tax has for Belfast.

    So many Protestants don’t think about anything on the other side of the border (apart from news reports on arson attacks on Orange Halls, the Rossnowlagh parade and occasionally going on holiday in Donegal for some reason) so they are oblivious to the increasing Protestant population down south.

    And as they are oblivious to the unimportance of religion down there (comparatively speaking) then it’s easy to feed them the confessional state crap and exploit that in a fear mongering campaign.

    Many also see the IRA’s campaign as a sectarian campaign sponsored by the Irish government.

    SF can say nothing to dispel this.
    So the belief that there will be some sort of mass expulsion ( along the lines of the Serbian Krajina) is believed by more people than you might credit.

    How do SF assuage those fears? (clue, they can’t)

    I suggested in another post about gestures that could be made to try and expose such dogma as myth but I fear pragmatic gestures that could advance the likelihood of a united Ireland would be scuppered because of long memories and grudges (it seems that ‘remember 1690’ mentality is not just a Protestant phenomenon).

    So even if you do have the rational arguments taken care of how do you address the irrational?

    I don’t think modern republicanism has the stomach for such manoeuvres as it is too entrenched in nationalism.

    Might I suggest a few chaps like yourself initiate a long term campaign and start an economic committee/research group that scrutinises every aspect and potential aspect of unification and lock the doors to anyone who wishes to pollute it with a nationalistic colour?

    As in concentrate on the economy, the transition period, the money involved and how to eat away at the foundation of fear and paranoia that props up a lot of the Unionist support.

    After a while such a group (when sufficiently seasoned) could step into the political arena and try to steer the ship a bit and to bring some fence sitters on board.

    Regardless of what they say or whose hand they shake SF can’t do this, it’s time for some one else to step forward who can.

  • Bryan Magee

    The unemployment rate is much lower in NI than in ROI which suggests job opportunities are not better in ROI.

  • Biftergreenthumb

    “Constitution-Another area of common agreement has to be on constitutional reform. There has to be new clauses on recognition of British culture on this island and what we will do to protect this in a united Ireland. In my opinion, we need to go further than just commonwealth membership, I think we need to be bold, consideration should be given to mandatory coalition in the Irish government for Unionists for a period, keeping Stormont and possibly offering another referendum within 7 years if the constitutional promises offered by the Yes campaign are not honoured.”

    For myself I think that the constitutional make up of a UI would be more important that purely economic concerns when it comes to deciding how to vote in a referendum. The standard of living in the ROI is pretty similar to the UK and I doubt in the long run whether daily life will change that much in an ROI. Keeping (a reformed) Stormont would make a UI a more attractive proposition for me as local issue could be dealt with locally.

    Offering another referendum 7 years later is an interesting idea but I doubt whether the British government would want that as an option. If they ever get rid of us I doubt they’d want the possibility of us coming back.

    Where I disagree with the quoted paragraph concerns the need for new clauses on the recognition, and protection, of British culture. What aspects of “British Culture” need to be recognised and protected? “Our culture, our heritage” is often wrongly conflated with Orangism and I would worry that privileging orangism as a minority culture, protected constitutionally makes legitimate criticism of this sectarian organisation more difficult. And if we are not talking about orangism here what aspects of British culture wouldn’t be recognised or would be under threat in a UI? This suggestion gives a bit too much credence to the whole culture war narrative.

  • Bryan Magee

    The EU’s verdict on Irelands Corp Tax deals with Apple make interesting reading in this morning’s FT.

  • Zeno1

    “Its not that unusual for a company to process much of its international sales through one regional headquarters,”

    Obviously, the point though is that Ireland’s Top Exporter doesn’t actually export anything. They are there to avoid Tax. If it was just one company it would be OK, but all of the big IT Companies are doing much the same thing.
    The trade off is they supply jobs, but these companies could all be gone tomorrow if a better deal comes up. It’s not as if they have any loyalty to Ireland.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    BGT

    “Our culture, our heritage” is often wrongly conflated with Orangism and I would worry that privileging orangism as a minority culture, protected constitutionally makes legitimate criticism of this sectarian organisation more difficult.


    That’s a good point, what exactly is ‘British’ culture as far as NI is concerned and which aspects would be denied in a UI?

    Parades – unlikely.
    Flags – Unlikely to be flown from public buildings any longer but it’s a terrible state of affairs if that amounts to ‘Britishness’.
    The BBC – I’m sure we can arrange something.

    Given that we’re all part of the Anglo-American sphere it’s really just hair splitting isn’t it?

    Regardless of what part of the world I’ve found myself in I’ve always thought of myself as Irish and British and not having a flag or a band parade to hand has done nothing to dampen this.

    Even if the border goes this is unlikely to change.

  • barnshee

    Any campaign will descend into a revisiting of history (recent and otherwise)
    The prods will pile up the protestant dead from Cork in 1920s via the Altnaveigh massacre, the Border campaign, Bloody Friday,La Mon, Tebane, Enniskillen.etc etc etc . The micks will counter.

    A good poll turn out will be guaranteed

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Agreed
    It’ll be historical mud slinging.
    Hence my ‘Anglo’ gesture on the other post, it would be a useful counter in any such debate.

  • Robin Keogh

    Every economy runs the risk of losing companies to countries that might offer a better deal so to speak. Be it cheaper labour or generous start up grants etc. Thats one of the pitfalls of operating in a globalized laissez faire economic community. The IT companies that operate in the republic have been in situ for years now, enjoying very low corpo rates and benifitting from a labour force that is highly skilled and highly educated. Companies dont stay anywhere on the basis of loyalty, they move and base themselves where it is most financially benificial. As it stands, the logistical and finacial costs of moving out of Ireland would be too great which is why there is no sign of them going anywhere. Tellingly, if they were going to move or downsize (as Dell did) they would have done so when the country was in the bin, during the economic crises. But you have a point on one level, I do agree the that the governemnt should work much harder to sponsor and support more home grown ventures. Doesnt look like the IT companies are going anywhere soon. You see, over the years with such a huge concentration of High Tech companies operating in Ireland the country has becom an international tech hub and is continuing to expand at a comfortable rate despite the world downturn. Irelands expertise in the field is pretty much unrivalled which makes the likelyhood of them upping sticks and moving pretty slim. I know you like your links so…………. 😉

    http://www.independent.ie/business/technology/microsoft-bolsters-irish-investment-with-plan-for-new-dublin-campus-30312839.html

    http://irishamerica.com/2014/05/tech-companies-expanding-in-ireland/

    http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/google-to-build-new-150m-data-centre-in-dublin-30012987.html

    http://www.siliconrepublic.com/start-ups/item/34924-the-top-irish-tech-start-up

  • Robin Keogh

    I agree with a lot of that, even though I am a Shinner. On the UI side we need a group of somewhat independent experts who can argue the case without having the tags of traditional Nationalism/ Republicanism attached to them

  • Robin Keogh

    LOL

  • Zeno1
  • Robin Keogh

    Again, there wiill always be challenges, the fact that there is an employee shortage just shows how massive the industry is here. However, it is not unusual to bring in migrant workers to fill gaps, this is pretty much the norm in most progressive economies particularly in areas such as construction and healthcare. Ireland still produces thousands of IT graduates every year so the governement and the companies themselves will have to take responsibility of making sure these graduates are quickly upskilled to cope with more specialised demand. Its far easier to import a few skilled workers into the office, rather than move the entire operation overseas.

  • Comrade,
    Absolutely not, if that were the case Unionism would be over represented ;-).

  • gunterprien

    1,000 people a week leave the North.
    That’s 52,000 a year for a population of 1.8 million.
    About 60,000 leave 26 Counties or about 4.6 million sized state.
    No wonder unemployment is low.
    For less than half the number of population.
    The same amount of people are leaving.
    Think about it.
    And think about Wales too..Coz that place was ruined by Westminster policies.

  • gunterprien

    “It’ll be historical mud slinging.Hence my ‘Anglo’ gesture on the other post, it would be a useful counter in any such debate.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    So you think a few burnt down houses will be balanced by Bloody Sunday.
    And Brain Nelson been gived black sacks full of documents by MI5.
    Gud luck with that one.

  • gunterprien

    What protestant dead?
    You do realize the “historian” who wrote that is a fiction writer by day.
    And nobody can find any record of the people he said were missing.
    Or any witnesses to the “missing people”.
    It’s garbage.
    And as for “micks” you stay classy now, Ya hear?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “So you think a few burnt down houses will be balanced by Bloody Sunday.
    And Brain Nelson been gived black sacks full of documents by MI5.”

    No.

    But thanks for demonstrating why nationalism is struggling to sell a UI.

    Unionists are the main obstacle to a united Ireland.

    One of (many) things propping up their resistance to a UI is fear and paranoia for what follows.

    The Anglo idea eats away at these paranoid foundations.

    But as demonstrated by yourself this idea and its pragmatic potential gain is secondary to axe-grinding and grievances.

    I always hear from nationalism about ‘the future’ and ‘shared this and shared that’ but as soon as some one comes out with a suggestion that might further this blissful future but with the caveat that ‘themuns’ might gain something then the mask slips, the past is marched out and everything grinds to a halt.
    Pathetic.
    Unionists sacrifice the appeal (and future) of the union to satisfy their obsession with flegs and parades and on the other side of the coin we have nationalists sabotaging potential (albeit tiny) movement on a UI just because someone, somewhere might gain something despite having sin running through their blue blooded veins.
    If you want a UI I suggest you do what needs to be done and drop the Mark of Cain nonsense.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Cheers Robin
    Thanks for seeing through the more foamy mouthed parts and looking at what I was trying to say.

  • Robin Keogh

    No, because you then have a problem with which answer comes first on the ballot paper. One question, yes or no. “Do you think northern ireland and the Republic of Ireland should unite to form one independent country? “

  • gunterprien

    Thanx for that.
    I’ll gladly accept the crown of being responsible for Unionist paranoia.
    Now, Did I create Paisley and Gusty Spence too?
    Or am I too young for that?

  • gunterprien

    “I think I’ll back off on the pro-UI comments for a while….

    Well done Gunter, you’ve singlehandedly undermined David McCann’s post.”

    ===========================================================
    This is unbelieveable. You must think I’m an American.
    You are a Unionist. End of.
    The idea that you are in favour of a UI does simply not compute.
    The idea that Unionism is waiting to be won over by the “best argument” is a fallacy. They are called Unionists for a reason.There may be a section of the so called PUL commmunity who were “supposed” to be Unionist but are Neutral or uninvolved but they are the “other” and not Unionists. Nobody who calls themselves Unionist is open to a UI.
    Otherwise there would have been a Hell of a lot of Nationalists between 1986 and 2006 when the Free State experienced 20 years of non stop economic growth.
    Or they would have led a delegation to Washington and got the 40 million Irish Americans to fund a UI to the tune of $3 BIllion dollars a year just like what the Israel lobby gets.
    Is Peter Robinson going to fall on his sword of Unionism to bull THAT Rabbit out of the hat?
    Pull the other one.And his supporters on’t be buying it either. they’re not lemmings after all are they?
    Like you are some “bleeding heart” who only wants the best suitor.
    It’s good for a laugh..mind you.
    The American Neo-con readers will love it I’m Sure.

  • Barry Walsh

    Many countries have small fees to see a doctor or get medication. This seems very reasonable, if everything is free at the point of use, over-servicing becomes an issue.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “You must think I’m an American” & “You are a Unionist. End of.”

    Well, I do now think that.

    Had you been reading posts from people like myself, Alan N’Ards, David Crookes and others then you would have taken on board over time that there is a number of people of a unionist background willing to look at and indeed accept a UI (if done properly).

    So there is no ‘end of’.

    For you to say “The idea that you are in favour of a UI does simply not compute.” says more for your ability to process opinions and views than anything else.

    There are a number of people on here from a nationalist background who are content with the status quo (by default ‘pro-union’ or indeed ‘unionist’), the probability that there is not an equivalent group on ‘the other side of the fence’ truly ‘does not compute’.

    “There may be a section of the so called PUL commmunity who were “supposed” to be Unionist but are Neutral or uninvolved but they are the “other” and not Unionists.”

    That’s not for you to judge or unilaterally declare and for the record a number of nationalist commentators on here disagree with that opinion (which is what it is, an opinion).

    “Nobody who calls themselves Unionist is open to a UI.”

    Well, I do and I am.

    You are therefore demonstrably wrong.

    And I know others who think similarly to me.

    So, a rethink of your universe might be in order, try absorbing new information in an unbiased fashion instead of contorting it to fit your idea of how the world is.

    “Otherwise there would have been a Hell of a lot of Nationalists between 1986 and 2006 when the Free State experienced 20 years of non stop economic growth.”

    That’s an immature thing to say.

    As I’m trying to ram home to you it’s not JUST the economy.

    There are other things at play hence I suggested something that might be useful in breaking down these barriers.

    You disregarded the idea with all the conviction, logic and nationalistic bias of Jamie Bryson “I have a historical axe to grind, this doesn’t fit my narrative so I’ll oppose it, even if it could potentially help my cause”

    For what it’s worth I lived in Dublin when things were ‘very good’ economically and I was a lot more ardently unionist (and flegger orientated) then than I am now.

    I think you simply don’t know what you’re talking about in this case,

    “Or they would have led a delegation to Washington and got the 40 million Irish Americans to fund a UI to the tune of $3 BIllion dollars a year just like what the Israel lobby gets.Is Peter Robinson going to fall on his sword of Unionism to bull THAT Rabbit out of the hat?”

    I’m talking about one strand of unionism and as a response to this you use the more extreme end of unionism to try to counter this.

    This is another example of a stawman argument and does you no favours, again, you seem like you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    “Like you are some “bleeding heart” who only wants the best suitor.”

    I want what’s best for what is currently known as Northern Ireland and just when I believe a UI could and should be a way to go someone like you comes out with their historical axe-grinding and pike sharpening and sends me (and others) back to the red, white and blue laager to hide behind the wagons.

    Better the devil you know than the hostile native you don’t.

  • Barry Walsh

    Would the Irish language be compulsory in all schools in a united Ireland?

    I grew up in Ireland, in Cork, and the Irish language made my school days hell.

    My kids are going to schools here in Australia, they are learning a second language and loving it, they started very young in pre-school.

    Unlike Irish, it isl be a language they will get the opportunity to use. It will also be beneficial for them in the business world.

    In a united Ireland, a second language should be compulsory for all students, but the choice of language should be up to parents to m
    ake

  • Biftergreenthumb

    As far as I understand there are quite a few orange parades in ROI each year that go off without incident. So I agree that it is unlikely that in a UI orangism would be under threat. In fact in a UI I would imagine that the Irish government would be very accommodating to the OO regarding contentious parades in order to ward off any potential trouble from loyalists screaming about discrimination. Unionist paranoia that their culture would be at risk in a UI is probably just an ideological leftover from the Home Rule issue (“Home rule is Rome rule” and all that).

    “Given that we’re all part of the Anglo-American sphere it’s really just hair splitting isn’t it?”

    This is exactly my thoughts on the whole “culture” issue. The UK and the ROI are western liberal English speaking democracies. The culture, technology, ways of life, values, holidays, political institutions and general world views are pretty much identical on both islands. Whether you live in England, Scotland, Wales, NI or ROI you’re going to eat Chinese, Indian, Italian food etc; watch Hollywood films; upload photos taken on your smart phone to facebook; work in a call centre, a cafe, as a teacher or mechanic etc; meet your mates in the pub to watch the match; wear jeans and t-shirts; vote for representatives to sit in legislatures. To think that people living in east Belfast have a radically different culture from people living in west Belfast is laughable. As if Northern Ireland is the ground of some kind of clash of civilisations. But the political parties of the troubles get their votes by appealing to tribal loyalty and so it is in their interests to exaggerate the differences between people in order to keep the ‘us against them’ narrative in play.

    “Regardless of what part of the world I’ve found myself in I’ve always thought of myself as Irish and British and not having a flag or a band parade to hand has done nothing to dampen this.
    Even if the border goes this is unlikely to change.”

    I have family in NI, ROI and England and consider both of these islands to be my home. While a UI would bring with it some minor bureaucratic changes I can’t see a radical change in how people live their lives. Like you I feel no sense of threat to my identity or culture from the idea of a UI.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Bgt, As the majority of unionists are probably royalists, will the new Ireland allow the Royal family the right to visit the British citizens who will be living in that state? This will probably mean the flying of the Union flag during visits. Obviously they will probably only visit areas in NI in which British citizens are in the majority, so not to offend.
    There is also the question of the right to join the British Armed Forces and possibly allowing recruitment to take place in the parts of NI where the majority are British citizens.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Bgt, I have to agree with a lot of what you have said here. we all have a lot in common with each other in NI. I have more in common with a nationalist in west Belfast than I have with a some one living in London. That nationalist in west Belfast has (hopefully) more in common with me than some one from Cork.
    I totally agree that the modern southern state is leap years away from the country that de Valera, John Charles McQuaid etc ruled over. The fact that the power of the Vatican is gone could be a big plus in trying to sell a UI to protestants in NI.
    The big issue for me is the identity battle. I believe culture is the wrong word.
    Being a British citizen doesn’t mean being orange and the OO have done us no favours by tying the Union flag to their parades. The same can be said of republicans who have tied the tricolour to their brand of Irishness. This to me is one of the biggest issues that we need to overcome in this part of the island. The issue of flags and emblems has become toxic. Maybe it always was.
    The tricolour would have been the ideal flag in any agreed island of Ireland. Alas, the republican movement, from de Valera’s brand to the Provo’s, have blasted a symbol that could have been embraced by all, completely out of the water. If a UI was to happen these issues will be passed on to the Irish Parliament to sort out. The cost of living, education, jobs etc does not really matter to many people in NI.

  • Biftergreenthumb

    “…will the new Ireland allow the Royal family the right to visit the British citizens who will be living in that state? This will probably mean the flying of the Union flag during visits.”

    Your guess is as good as mine but given that the Queen has visited ROI not that long ago I’d imagine the Royals could pop over whenever they wanted. I’m sure Union flags would be flown during the visit in the same way that the stars and stripes are flown during American presidential visits.

    “There is also the question of the right to join the British Armed Forces and possibly allowing recruitment to take place in the parts of NI where the majority are British citizens.”

    You enlightened me in a previous exchange that the GFA allows for dual citizenship for NI residents even after reunification. That being the case I imagine that people from here will still be able to join the British army.

    But even if the new state was petty enough to block all future royal visits and ban its citizens from joining the British Army would this effect the “Britishness” of our culture? Millions of British people are republicans rather than royalists and the vast majority of British citizens aren’t in the army but that doesn’t mean they are less British than royalist soldiers.

    I find that DUP/UUP/TUV/OO type unionists seem to identify with ultra-conservative British institutions (the Army, the Royal Family etc) rather than with wider British culture (the trade union movement, the NHS/welfare state, Bertrand Russell, John Locke, JRR Tolkien, the Glastonbury Festival, the swinging 60s, Brit pop, Monty Python etc etc). British culture isn’t confined to waving the flag and loving the Queen. Even after unification we’ll still be able to watch Hitchcock films, listen to the Beatles, watch Wimbledon, drink Tetley tea, read William Blake, vote in a parliamentary democracy, play football and rugby and eat Yorkshire puddings with our Sunday roast. British Culture even in a UI, is not under threat and doesn’t need protected.

  • Biftergreenthumb

    Apologies Alan! I replied to your other comment before I realised that you had posted this one too. From this I think we’re in agreement about a lot of things especially when it comes to unionism, Britishness and orangism all being separate.

    “The big issue for me is the identity battle.”

    I think identity politics is the problem. At the moment the thought of a united Ireland is threatening to people here who see Unionism as their identity. Nationalist see being Irish and being British as mutually exclusive. Therefore remaining part of the union is seen by nationalists as being ruled by a foreign power and therefore as an injustice. Unionists feel threatened by any talk of a UI and nationalists feel a sense of injustice at the thought of continued links with the UK. As long as unionism and nationalism are held as identity positions we won’t be able to have a rational debate about the constitutional question.

    However, I agree with John McAllister when he said “the Northern Irish identity is the beating heart of a shared future.” The Belfast telegraph survey showed that almost no one wants a UI right now. This gives us all time to develop the joint Northern Irish identity. A new flag and anthem. Once we are all Northern Irish, like the Scots are all Scottish, we can have a more reasonable debate about the future constitutional position of NI that isn’t based on tribal loyalty. Northern Irish protestants won’t be as threatened by a new Ireland as a British Unionist would be. And a Northern Irish catholic won’t be as instinctively committed to a UI as an Irish republican would be.

  • gunterprien

    “… I am referring to a small but significant minority within unionism that could listen to reasoned arguments (bereft of MOPEry and nationalism) as opposed to the more hard line elements like Jim Allister, the DUP, Willie Frazer etc?”..”
    ============================================================
    My first contact with you on this thread was under Joan Brutal and his Redmondite ways.
    Under that article you wrote is support of a view which was entirely negative on the Free State..And you further went on, in your own words with concern about the Anglo Irish.
    So, When you talk of history..It is just that eh? History.
    But when Them umns like me mention British /Unionist atrocities such as Pat Finucane, FRU or the burning of Bombay street..This is MOPEry.
    Absolutely fantastic..Great stuff.
    You mention something else about Wriggle and squirming.
    So, I suggest you need a master class to explain your do as I say. NOT Do as I do attitude.
    Are you putting your hand up to being a MOPE.
    Or explain how THAT is different?
    And you’ll find no squirming from me. The amount of Unionists who would consider a UI are tOO smalll to bother with or their version UI involves so much grovelling to Westminster Elites.That it wouldn’t be worth living in.
    So, No Thanks.
    Unionism has the mark of Cain about it.
    And btw..The reason why I disregard your appeal is quite simply..I refered to Rebels been executed by the Brits during the 1919 War of Independence for Irish Freedom.
    And you came back with “freedom” in inverted commas.
    No “unionist” who had such a conversion as you, would put Freedom in inverted commas. like that.
    So you need further progress to make.
    Unless of course that “freedom” inverted commas refers to the 17 % of Ireland that was Gerrymandered..In which case carry on.
    But I suspect not.

  • Barry Walsh

    Hello, Dave! Just thought I’d drop you a line to let you know how we’re getting on in the weirdest corner of “our United Kingdom”, as you called it last week when you were feeling all teary and sentimental about the idea of Scotland going it alone.
    Bet you wouldn’t be talking about your achy-breaky heart if it was Northern Ireland, would you? No, you’d be ecstatic, cracking out the Champagne and raising a toast to a glorious British future that doesn’t contain us filthy lot.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/debateni/blogs/fionola-meredith/please-david-cameron-can-you-take-charge-of-us-once-more-30615862.html

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “My first contact with you on this thread was under Joan Brutal and his Redmondite ways.Under that article you wrote is support of a view which was entirely negative on the Free State..And you further went on, in your own words with concern about the Anglo Irish.
    So, When you talk of history..It is just that eh? History.”

    Yes.

    In a post about history my comments were also about history and counter-factuals.

    “But when Them umns like me mention British /Unionist atrocities such as Pat Finucane, FRU or the burning of Bombay street..This is MOPEry.Absolutely fantastic..Great stuff.”

    It is purely in the context that you employed such history i.e. you shot down a proposal based on these historical events.

    Because they happened and have not been given closure you then resented the thought of other historical wrongs being ‘righted’.

    If you can think of ways of righting these historical wrongs that you mentioned then go ahead, please suggest them but there’s no reason why progress on other issues must be held hostage in the meantime.

    Why use them to shoot down an idea that could help curtail some of the unionist paranoia in some unionists?

    So, yes, using historical grievances for the sole purpose of obstructionism is indeed MOPEry, amongst the worst kind.

    “You mention something else about Wriggle and squirming.”

    Yes, if you’re boxed in you’ll move the goal posts.

    “So, I suggest you need a master class to explain your do as I say. NOT Do as I do attitude.”

    Feel free to do as I do, in this case go through my previous post and pick at it part by part, including the part that states where you are “demonstrably wrong”.

    “Are you putting your hand up to being a MOPE.”

    I’m sometimes guilty of middle-MOPEry.

    “Or explain how THAT is different?”

    I offer suggestions to settle some grievances a little in the hope of moving forward, you offer grievances in the hope of holding back suggestions. That’s how.

    “And you’ll find no squirming from me.”

    I disagree.

    “The amount of Unionists who would consider a UI are tOO smalll to bother with or their version UI involves so much grovelling to Westminster Elites.”

    I can’t see how you’re qualified to declare such a sweeping statement.

    “That it wouldn’t be worth living in.”

    Then these UI conversations on slugger are pointless as the compromises and talks needed to bring about a UI any time soon are unlikely to be to your satisfaction.

    “Unionism has the mark of Cain about it.”

    Yes. As does nationalism.

    “The reason why I disregard your appeal is quite simply..I refered to Rebels been executed by the Brits during the 1919 War of Independence for Irish Freedom.And you came back with “freedom” in inverted commas.
    No “unionist” who had such a conversion as you, would put Freedom in inverted commas. like that.”

    Who are you to judge unionist conversions? Even some nationalists are dismissive of 1916 and the events that followed so it’s entirely possible that even a unionist open to the prospect of a UI might also be dismissive.

    “So you need further progress to make.”

    I see, offering nationalists suggestions on breaking down some of the biggest obstacles is NOT progress? Right….

    “Unless of course that “freedom” inverted commas refers to the 17 % of Ireland that was Gerrymandered..In which case carry on.But I suspect not.”

    I don’t know what you mean.

  • toker

    I hope it would be a wake up call to unionism as they would have to drop tribal baggage and making themselves more accommodating to Catholics and nationalists being more mature on flags and marches and it would probably mean that Nesbitt and Robinson not campaign with orange order, Flag protestors and Frazer and Allister etc. and face them down when required ,however with recent events in the last 2 years I don’t see them doing this and it could be to there detriment even though they would probably win .
    Even though I consider myself Irish I don’t think UI would lead to an improvement in peoples lifestyles especially in relations to healthcare it surprises me how naïve northern SF supporters are about southern politics and society .The south is quite a conservative and individualistic culture has had centre right governments 80pc of time and this would probably continue if unionists joined.
    The health service and block grant would be reduced massively and important benefits like disability living allowance would be slashed further. The south has an economic policy which keeps it successful but ensures a massive wealth gap as there are so many tax loopholes
    .I don’t think a UI would benefit working class nationalist communities who already are hard pressed.
    Could there be a 3rd option/Devo Max style option offering more devolution and more North/South cooperation in areas like investment ,green jobs and energy which would benefit Northern Ireland greatly and co operation in health and maybe Ireland joining commonwealth.