“….a need to develop a coherent, clear and warm relationship between people in the two jurisdictions”

As delivered by Fine Gael Minister Joe McHugh TD in Glenties tonight at the MacGill Summer School. Edwin Poots was in the audience (see Gerry Moriarty’s report tonight), with Mary Lou McDonald (abreviated), Katy Hayward, David Gavaghan and moderated by Denis Bradley:

A few years ago I travelled to Stormont with around a dozen Fine Gael TDs for a meeting with the First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness.

Peter Robinson stood up to speak. He began by saying ‘we need to work on the relationship we have north and south’. Then he stopped.

Then he began again. He said that we actually already have a relationship. It was just we hadn’t quite figured out what to do with it.

And that is where we are at – a need to develop a coherent, clear and warm relationship between people in the two jurisdictions. In order to progress that we also need to work, and work harder, to bring the communities in Northern Ireland together.

As we continued to work on developing and deepening these relationships the Brexit result landed on our desk; a decision taken by the UK – not us – for the UK to leave the European Union. It was also a decision rejected by most people in Northern Ireland.

The implications are still being felt.

Separately from this, the Government had already been working on the possible Leave result. It might even be true to say that in advance of the referendum the Irish Government had made more preparations for a Leave result than the Government in London.

Locally here in Donegal, the County Council and Derry & Strabane Council had already been working on cementing links across that invisible Border.

Since the Brexit vote, there have been 20 All-Ireland Dialogue Events with 1,400 delegates representing all strands of life. Separate to that we have held 300 other meetings to prepare for the UK leaving the EU.

The largest Dialogue event was hosted by me here in this county, in Letterkenny. More than half of the delegates came from Northern Ireland, many seeking leadership and direction they weren’t getting elsewhere.

As I said there has been very significant progress in building a new partnership relationship here in the North West.

The North West Strategic Growth Partnership Board recently held its second Plenary meeting. This new Partnership between Donegal, Derry City and Strabane District Councils and our Government and the Northern Ireland Executive offers a new way of maximising the potential of this region, of building on the cross border ties that have always been so strong in this region to ensure that the North West region can thrive.

The new cross-border arrangements, supported by the Fresh Start Agreement and commitments by our Government including a financial commitment made to the North West Development Fund, are milestones for the future development of this region.

As I said, these new arrangements were conceived well before June 2016 UK referendum. While Brexit was not the reason for the establishment of this new Partnership, it offers an invaluable regional-focussed forum through which the very significant issues arising from Brexit may be addressed.

Here in the North West, we face an EU border bisecting the Derry-Letterkenny gateway, cutting through the social and economic hinterland of this critical urban driver.

There are in excess of 320,000 cross-border movements a week here in the North West alone, almost two million a month across the entire border. A hard border and the impact it would have on people’s lives and livelihoods simply cannot be countenanced. Avoiding a hard border is, therefore, a headline priority for this Government.

Following our intensive political and diplomatic engagement over the last year and even before that, the EU Heads of State and Government in the European Council also agreed on the need to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, and this is an EU objective for the negotiations with the UK on their departure from the Union.

The need to ensure full respect for the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement, and to protect our Common Travel Area are likewise accepted and adopted by the European Union.

The island of Ireland issues will be dealt with as a priority in Phase One of the EU-UK negotiations in the months ahead. There has been very positive engagement by EU officials in understanding the unique set of challenges which Brexit poses for this island.

It is clear that, while Brexit has the potential to fundamentally alter the relationship between the UK and Ireland, it is in the border regions that its impact is felt most acutely. I am delighted that our Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and UK Brexit Minister David Davis have agreed to visit the Border in the coming weeks to see the potential impacts of Brexit.

We have enjoyed the absence of a border, we have learned and gained each other’s trust as those borders came down. We have intertwined our lives across that border as they have ever been going back through the centuries.

The people in Border Regions, on both sides of the Border, have rediscovered what has always been true that we have far more in common with each other than divide us. Church communities – from all the main Christian religions – can now access parishes and dioceses once divided by a physical border.

Sometimes it is no surprise that the people in Border Counties are united in their belief that those in Dublin, Belfast, London and Brussels really are a long way away.

However I’ve come today from a meeting with my Cabinet colleagues and it is always a pleasure to talk with them about all the good work already happening in the North West and the high level of cooperation across all sectors society be that through third level education, transportation or radiotherapy.

And I really look forward to July next year to the Irish Open. While it will be in Inishowen this will be a collective cross-Border effort delivering a major international event for the entire North West.

As a Government, we have managed to persuade our European partners of the unique circumstances of this island in the Brexit process.

I want to make it absolutely clear that the priority for me as a TD for Donegal and as someone who sits at the Cabinet table as Government Chief Whip that we must protect the peace process. I am very very conscious that it remains a peace process and that we have to continue to nurture it and ensure we never go back.

I want the invisible border to remain. Furthermore, I do not want an economic or physical border, and with my colleagues, we are working for the retention of the Common Travel Area and the closest possible trading relationship to continue between north and south and between east and west across the Irish Sea.

While there will be a political border, as An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said in a speech in Gaoth Dobhair a few weeks ago, we are working for an all-island economic strategy with no trade barriers between Derry and Donegal or between Armagh and Monaghan.

That message is being repeated over and over again in 450 meetings with the remaining EU Member States and EU institutions.

Infrastructural links between north and south must be progressed regardless of Brexit. A new A5 road from Derry to Aughnacloy with new roads from Lifford to Letterkenny must form part of enhancing our physical connections so that our people move even closer wherever they live.

Finally, I want to turn back to the internal relationships in the North. The sooner the institutions in Northern Ireland are re-instated, the better for everyone on this island. Relationship-building continues across a wide variety of areas but we need to continue it on the political front too.

I know our Government position is that an Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland should be introduced. It was agreed at the St Andrew’s talks a decade ago.

So I want to say to Edwin here this evening. The Irish language does not belong to any political party, north or south. It belongs to all those who wish to engage with it. The Presbyterian community, in particular, helped to save the language over many years.

The language is not a threat. It is not a political weapon and it should not be used as one. It is the same for Ulster-Scots. The Ulster-Scots Agency has an office in this constituency in Raphoe to further promote that part of our shared heritage particularly here in Ulster.

I’d be happy as Minister for the Irish language in this jurisdiction to meet and talk with any unionists who have any concerns about the Irish language and reassure them that people like me who have learned to love the language have no intention of doing anything other than speak it and share it with those who want to share in it.

  • El Daddy

    From the IT article, Edwin Poots comments were *so* well up until the very very end.

  • Ian Rate

    Can’t really argue with any of them.
    No fan of the Irish Language myself and I agree with Poots that it has a twisted existence in parts of NI. I don’t often agree with him.
    It seems they all agree that something needs to be done, if the DUP are missing MMcG about the place then a meeting of minds is nearer than I thought.
    Leaders need to be braver than they currently are.
    The Brexit bus is gathering speed and I’d have more faith in Dougal from Fr Ted steering it than the Tory Party, the ramifications for all 32 counties is too serious for the Assembly not to get its act together quickly to slow down the decisions being made on behalf of NI residents.

  • Neiltoo

    The problem is not with an act or the Irish language. The problem is that SF have weaponised both and will continue to beat everyone else over the head with them, whether an act is in place or not.

  • Karl

    What we need is warm relations between the people in one jurisdiction.

    NI is not a monolithic unionist state alien to ROI. It is a place where nearly half the people see themselves as Irish and nearly half see themselves as non Irish. Theyre definitely not British by definition and outlook.

    Partition has been a disaster for the island. Time to use Brexit to reframe the relationships across the piece.

    Even an independent NI within the customs union would be better. At least its change. The last thing NI needs is a continuation of the status quo.

  • Karl

    How can you not be a fan of a language? What dont you like – the verb conjugation? Are there any other languages you have similar negative feelings for?
    You need to stop attaching your political bias to a form of communication.

  • mickfealty

    I suspect we both went to school with people who hated it with a passion that exceeds that of any unionist. The resentment rarely has anything to do with intrinsic value of the language but how people internalise what it means to them.

    It induces more excruciating dialogues of the deaf than almost any other subject I can think of. Some just hate it because they don’t understand it and resent the expectation that they somehow must. Others see it as a cultural extension of a Kulturkampf (which for some in the current frontline, it absolutely is, however much they deny it in English or in public).

    For me personally it’s a working language that has borne isolation and ridicule (often by those born into it, and eager to escape the culshie tag) and yet has survived agin the odds. It’s a precious argot that requires equal measure of confidence and care.

    It doesn’t have to deepen divisions. There are plenty of unionists I know who are drawn towards it in ways they don’t feel compromises their own political convictions. Eoin Malcolm being one great example, Linda Ervine another.

  • mickfealty

    The problem for nationalists is that this is a discontinuity in the status quo. Unionism alone is currently shaping NI. Personally, reckon that’s a problem on almost every level you can think of. Especially for nationalism, which is proactively surrendering power and influence in the north for the dream of something in the south.

    All Joe is doing is reiterating the values articulated in Articles 2 and 3 of the Bunreacht, something, like the GFA that SF appear to believe does not apply to them.

  • Karl

    The macro view of the status quo remains that NI is a subset of the UK and cut off from its natural hinterland, the current impasse is tactical positioning for post Brexit fallout.

    Despite the efforts over 10 years of keeping the institutions afloat, Stormont did not deliver for nationalism. You can argue with the reasons but not the conclusion. Overuse of POC by the DUP led to the conclusion that this would not change and there would be no generosity of spirit in power sharing with the DUP.

    Unionism has helped bring about the catalyst to change through Brexit. A fundamental change in relationships across Europe when all they needed to do was maintain.

    Negotiations will end without overall agreement due to the amount of whistling from London in the face of an EU holding all the cards.

    Whilst unionism might appear to be shaping NI at the moment it will be shown just how pyrrhic a victory the deal with the Tories was in light of the final Brexit deal and a torch being shone on their impotence to protect NI from the fallout of something they supported.

    Unionism winning tactically and nationalism playing the long game. Twas ever thus except this time, while the objectives are the same, the stakes for this hand are particularly high.

  • ted hagan

    “It is a place where nearly half the people see themselves as Irish and nearly half see themselves as non Irish.”
    That’s a serious distortion. Many, many unionists seen themselves as Northern IRISH in the same way that there are both Turkish and Greek Cypriots.
    Similarly, the Scots who opposed Scottish independence are no less Scottish than their opponents.
    It is you who is classifying ‘Irishness’ as those who want unity and those who don’t.

  • Karl

    Its not a serious distortion. There are people who are culturally Irish and there are people who are culturally not. You ask unionists if they are Irish or British and they will say British. Unionism, in the last 100 years, has moved away from being Irish and British to be British, northern irish (a recent construct brought about by attempts at nation building by PUL community who dont trust Britain to have their backs forever) and then Irish if at all.

    I dont think this is a good thing but that is what has happened. They have chosen to move away from their Irishness.

    I didnt equate Irishness with a desire for unity directly. I was drawing out the argument that it was more sensible to change than not to given that NI itself has changed.

  • ted hagan

    I think we can agree that unionists have always faced an identity crisis?

  • runnymede

    I wonder what will happen when this latest in a long line of nationalist fantasies fails to materialise.

    Best guess – they’ll think up another one.

  • mickfealty

    Much as I hate to agree with you RM, historical determinism has never worked particularly well for Irish Nationalism.

    Working hard to carve out the independence of the southern state has been by far its most successful enterprise. And by a very long way.

    The problem is this narrative is not particularly been made available to northern nationalist voters by either of the two main nationalist parties.

  • runnymede

    But Mick you only need to look at what is happening in Wales right now to see how the language will be misused in the future if it starts getting the kind of state support some of its supporters want.

    It will become a vehicle for the promotion of one part of the community over another, it will effectively be foisted on people who aren’t interested in it.

    If Irish needs ‘support’ (and does it, given your own remarks about its survival capacity?) that should come through careful cultural nurturing, not through bludgeoning instruments like compulsory bilingual road signs, proficiency requirements in state employment etc.

  • Karl

    Strong and stable, strong and stable. Nothing ever changes. We dont need to change.

    If unionism doesnt think that Brexit and the extremely poor handling of it, is the biggest threat to the union since WWII then its not very good at this politics thing.

  • Karl

    I dont see how you can say historical determinism hasnt worked well for nationalism, on the basis that it can ever ‘work’.

    Chart the changes in northern ireland in the last 100 years and they mirror the events in Ireland for the previous 100 years with the fight and the attainment of equal rights leading to self determination. History is a reference and a roadmap. Arguably slower but inexorable.

    The question for northern nationalism is if it wants to take the final step with a (possibly violent) reluctant unionist population.

  • Zeno3

    “Stormont did not deliver for nationalism.”

    I’d say it didn’t deliver for anyone, but what were YOU expecting from Stormont?

  • Karl

    Top of the list – marriage equality, agreement on how to tackle the past, long term plan on economic future, agreed parading, increased north south cooperation, health reform to name a few.

  • mickfealty

    I don’t understand any of that Karl. Genuinely.

  • mickfealty

    Don’t disagree. I’m personally not against an Irish Language Act, but one should be calibrated around a careful assay of need and aimed at creating an effective strategy.

    The conversation we need is what kind of effects and then what kind of Act. Getting locked in an unproductive binary of Act/No Act = No Action. (At which point, my head explodes.)

  • Redstar

    Where all that hits the fan is when the numbers add up to a maj Nat NI. I specifically mean that NI staying in U.K. but with a Nat majority.

    It’s over to the likes of yourself and others then to decide if you prefer a Green NI with Unionists a in a minority or with FG etc being much closer to Unionist thinking- being in gov again as a partner in an all Ireland admin.

    Ironically because of their craving to be in the majority when they end up a minority they may well be pushing more for an all Ireland administration than soft Nats who prefer a Green NI in the UK

  • runnymede

    Fair enough Mick.

  • Karl

    In short, Irelands past, is the roadmap to NIs future. Equality, followed by parity of esteem, breeds confidence and self determination.

  • Zeno3

    Wow, you were guaranteed to be disappointed if you expected all of that. Was marriage equality even mentioned when this version of Stormont was agreed?
    There is no doubt that N/S cooperation has increased and no doubt that Parades are less contentious. I’m not sure what you mean with health reform.
    Tackling the past seems to mean prosecuting the security forces while the terrorists enjoy amnesties, letters of comfort and maximum 2 year sentences. So anyone can see that is a problem.

  • runnymede

    I also found that utterly baffling.

  • runnymede

    According to people like you, Brexit should already have sparked Scottish secession and a mass conversion of Unionists to the views of Wolfe Tone. It hasn’t.

    So far, it looks much more like Brexit will strengthen the union, as people like me have argued.

  • Karl

    If you dont expect a government of 10 years, 20 years after the GFA to sort out the substantive issues affecting the place, then what is the point? Let them all do their talking at council level and pull the plug on Stormont….oh.

  • Karl

    Brexit hasnt happened yet. You do know this? You must.

    When it does, that is exactly what is likely to happen as Theresa and her Tories deliver the entire mess to an electorate who at the very least will have to deal with economic stagnation for another 10 years, on top of the last 10 years of austerity. The only thing that can save her, is the Argentinians making another play for the Falklands.

    Brexit negotiations will lay out the exact cost for a ‘soft’ brexit, which will be greater than EU membership, and quantify the implications for a hard Brexit which will be much greater than the cost of EU membership.

    How you think the weakening of the UK leads to a strengthening of the union is beyond me. Negotiations on Brexit have just started and in case you havent noticed, theyre not exactly going well for team UK as the weakness of both their position and argument is exposed.

  • Zeno3

    Newton Emerson did a piece one time on how it took over 8 years for local government to bring in a law agreeing the height of hedges.
    Pulling the plug on Stormont and introducing direct rule could be the best thing ever happened to NI. but I fear I will be disappointed and SF will back track on a lot of red lines and eat a mountain of fudge to bring it back.

  • Karl

    Im comfortable that direct rule will be another catalyst for nationalist revitalisation and while it will bring NI up to speed with UK laws around marriage and reproduction, it will also mismanage the economy to a degree that is only possible when that economy is not oriented to meet the needs to 2% on the periphery of the country.
    I hope SF stick to the guns and take advantage of unionist discomfort at the sh*tshow the DUP have delivered via Brexit.
    I think Im equally comfortable with a green NI, as a UI.

    Bring on Direct Rule on a permanent basis until the constitutional question is resolved every 7 years until we get the right answer (tongue only slightly in cheek)

  • Fear an Iúir

    Given your unionist viewpoints, Mick and Runnymede, it would suit you both not to see the point in Karl’s argument.

  • Zeno3

    The DUP didn’t deliver brexit. I hope SF stick to their guns as well but on all known form that won’t happen.

  • mickfealty

    Bishop Brennan, as I live and breathe!!!

    My confusion BTW is genuine, and not contingent on my own political outlook, unionist or otherwise. It’s full of high assertions without proof.

    [I suggest you re-read the commenting rules.]

  • Karl

    “It’s full of high assertions without proof.”

    “…historical determinism has never worked particularly well for Irish Nationalism.”

    I’ll just leave that there for a moment to ponder.

  • runnymede

    I’m sure you’ll have another delayed set of apocalyptic projections two years from now as well. And five years on, and ten etc.

  • Redstar

    Good post

    I too would be comfortable for a while with a Nat Maj green NI.

    It’s actually a bigger nightmare for unionists than a UI but in such a scenario they can easily get back into a ruling administration again by linking up with FG etc

  • Karl

    A bit like all the other scenarios though, they wont accept it until it exists so there is no preparation or negotiation.
    Do they have a plan B to deal with any change or is it just stick their heads in the sand and hope they get lucky (again)?

  • Ian Rate

    Hi Karl, not a fan of the language because I find it useless / intrusive in my life. Government forms bilingual etc. Signs I have to read twice, An Nuacht .
    I work in Dublin where I hear it spoken maybe twice a year by people in passing.
    Other languages I have similar negative feelings for….none. I have travelled extensively but never felt any negative feelings to living languages being used naturally in their natural environment.
    I’m just tired of listening to people prattle on about how wonderful it is but it being needed to be reinvented year upon year upon year. I am appalled that we need to translate official documents into Irish for nobody to read them.
    You’ll be shocked that I am encouraging my kids to learn but don’t know what they will use it for. It does however seem to be taught in a more structured and fun way these days.
    I learnt both French and Latin and find both far more useful to me… thats just me.
    My political bias …. I suspect you got that very very wrong.
    I am sure there are some Ulster Scots who don’t like their own language either.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Theyre definitely not British by definition and outlook.”

    And you expect sentiments like that to engender “warm relations” between British and Irish on the island?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Seems to me unionists are rather clear about their identity. The “identity crisis” thing has got repeated so often, people forget to actually ask themselves what it means, or whether it means anything. It is to me not only meaningless but seriously misleading.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Direct Rule is what SF want, I suspect

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It has not strengthened the Union, it has reinvigorated 32-county nationalism. The blessing is only that 32-county nationalism is such an obvously unappealing idea that its revival has a certain low ceiling, thank God. No thanks to Brexit though.

  • Barneyt

    Absolutely. Brexit was always going to present an opportunity for strengthening or as you say reinvigorating the call for unification, as the only means to retain NI eu status. Many won’t admit it but internally brexit triggered a huge yee hah! I don’t think special status is a runner personally but if that too is achieved then it’s a step in the right direction for nationalists as they see it. It’s fantasy to regard brexit as a catalyst for anything unionistic

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I agree, but also a fantasy to think it’s going to lead anywhere nationalist either

  • MainlandUlsterman

    we have self-determination and have chosen the UK, with a strong network of links north-south-east-west. That was the “Endgame in Ireland” – we have arrived. We’re in the car park. Maybe the problem is that parts of nationalism rather enjoyed the drive and now won’t get out of the car. It’s in danger of spoiling the whole holiday.

  • Barneyt

    The call for an act has come from various Irish action and interest groups. My view is that the SDLP and SF have done little to help the Irish language. Uttering a few words here and there (sf) might help exercise a right to speak Irish but in the absence of the act it only serves to bring derision. SF were late coming to the table with respect to the Irish language and their recent activity is in response to those mentioned above making noise. Unionism are gifting the Irish language initiative to SF and they readily do this I suspect to politicise the language too and stall the whole thing by knowingly hanging it on SFs door. As long as they can attach the language to SF the longer they will oppose.

    We need to look at history to see where the damage to the language has come from. It’s well documented what the Irish rulers did but less so the Catholic Church in their attempts to spread the word. The unionist community needs to look at Irish within their ancestry and spearhead its recovery themselves along with all the Irish language groups out there. That would represent leadership. Irish should not be aligned with any religion and currently SF and the DUP are ensuring it remains so.

  • Karl

    I wasnt there for the vote on NI remaining part of the UK, was anyone? Or was there a vote for NI to leave the Free state. But I digress.

    I am not sure how NI can be said to have self determination if it votes to remain in the EU but is taken out of it.

    We are only reaching the end game and our conclusions on its outcome are very different

  • Karl

    You mean the 200,000 people from Britain or do you mean the 800,000 people born in Ireland who look to Britain for political, economic and social succour whilst maintaining a very different cultural and moral compass from them?
    I think the relationship with the British is good. Not so sure about the relationship with the NI nationalists but its something to work on.

  • ted hagan

    To me it stems from the fact that many of my fellow Protestants cling to a kingdom that would clearly get shot of them at the first possible, but unlikely, opportunity.
    That’s where my identity crisis begins. And it’s not imagined.

  • 05OCT68

    Unionism has failed to recognize that the 19 amendment was a huge concession on an emotional level for Northern Nationalists, In return we expected our Irish identity to be respected. Unionism hasn’t reciprocated this act with generosity & oppose nearly all things Irish here. The amendment was a severing. I voted for the GFA & felt the amendment was necessary (they told us that) to allow Unionism to accept the agreement, given the near 20 year stalemate of the GFA it was a gift too easily given.

  • mickfealty

    Do you mean Articles 2/3?

  • 05OCT68

    Yes the 19th amendment reworded the articles & dropped the territorial claim.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Well, I don’t think feelings on the mainland are as clear-cut as that about N Ireland, I would say it’s more usually characterised by ambivalence than outright hostility. The DUP-Tory deal has been really damaging and has brought more hostility than we’ve seen in a long time but it will settle down again.

    I don’t think there’s an identity crisis as I think pretty much every unionist gets that people on the mainland can be pretty flakey on N Ireland and you can’t rely on them. But that’s not our identity that’s at issue there, that’s the ability of others to give us our fair dues.

    The response I have and I suspect it’s widely shared is to regard those attitudes on the mainland where they exist as rather ignorant, ill-informed, and take the view that we know ourselves better than they do. We would have an identity crisis if we were actually persuaded by people who deny our right to be British – but we’re not, on the whole. We tend to take the approach of, “Thanks, but I’ll decide for myself what I am, thank you very much.”

    Nearly every unionist is British, Northern Irish or more usually both in some mix or other. Like any set of identities there are nuances and variations, but actually it’s remarkably consistent across unionist Northern Ireland. I really don’t see a lot of doubt there, or any crisis of identity.

    There is a permanent crisis perhaps in how we’re perceived, but that’s not an identity crisis. We are always going to be outgunned by the massive international cultural and political influence of nationalist Ireland.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Karl, they ARE British, you have to accept that. You can’t keep talking as if “the British” are all somewhere else.

  • Georgie Best

    I think you are confusing the poor leadership of nationalism with an unappealing idea. SF lack the competance to build a proper plan for progress to a UI. But you also know very well that a UI is at the end of all this, one way or the other, and it will be a happier and more prosperous place than the present arrangement, however long it is delayed.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    NI didn’t vote for NI to remain in the EU. NI didn’t actually vote at all, the people in it did and they voted on whether *the UK as a whole* should leave or stay in the EU. There was no option for NI to have a different fate from the rest of the country.

    What you mean is, more people in NI voted for the UK to stay in the EU than voted for it to leave, which is true. But so what? It was a national UK vote, and the Leavers won it.

    I was only 3 when the last referendum was held on the border in 1973, which was a resounding vote for the UK (even if every single non-voter had voted for a UI it still would have lost by a mile). There has never been any suggestion since then that a UI could come anywhere near winning.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I really don’t know that at all – and see no reason to think such an outcome would make for a happier and more prosperous N Ireland. Why would it?

  • Georgie Best

    Those parts of Ireland that are not in NI are happier and more prosperous as it stands. Why not extend a working model?

  • Karl

    98% of the British are somewhere else. Britain. I appreciate that the majority of unionists will identify as British. I understand misuse of Ulster is common but I only tried to raise the point that change is amongst us and it would benefit us all if that was embraced.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    because N Ireland is different – it has a deeply ethnically divided society, with all the problems that come with that. No other part of the British Isles has to deal with anything like it. You could also say the rest of the UK is happier and more prosperous, why not extend a working model. The argument doesn’t hold because it assumes NI’s problems are purely down to the national container it is in. That really isn’t the case and I think we all know it.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “I appreciate that the majority of unionists will identify as British.”
    Do you accept them as British though?

  • Karl

    You argued that NI has self determination. It doesnt.

  • Karl

    Do they need my acceptance to be British? Sure. I’ll accept them as British. I bet they’re all breathing a sigh of relief now.

    Its a good thing my beliefs aren’t dependent on others peoples acceptance, or I could be accused of being an insecure attention seeker who has lived enclosed in a bubble so long that I need the affirmation of others to live or cry discrimination if I dont get it.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes it does. Self-determination means the right to choose what country you’re part of, which N Ireland has. It doesn’t get you a veto as a region on all the country’s foreign policy decisions or mean you’re not bound by national referenda.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Do you think what you’ve written is really “acceptance”? Sounded rather hostile.