Future Ireland / Nation-States Are Yesterday’s Politics – Let’s Review Our Terms and Conditions 

Global trends indicate that we are graduating from ideological party politics to voting based on personal priorities such as financial security. Trump’s America is the prime example. But, like their hurricanes, everything from the US eventually crosses the water and laps our shores. Unstoppable cultural homogeneity adds to this. With lightning speed our young people adopt the same fashion, music and patois globally.

The extent to which this is manipulated by media giants, arms of government and lizard overlords is the subject of speculation but it would be naive to exclude them from being major influencers. Maybe the lizards. While The Right have had their moment and irreparably changed things, trends always bounce back and a New Left is bound to emerge eventually. It will probably be a Hard Left as political swings generally mirror each other’s position on the continuum. 

But we are different. 

We have long expected every generation in this piece of land, which dare not speak its name, to bring change to electoral patterns. And they have failed us. Like Peter Pan, they forget the free-flight of their youth when they join the rat race. 

But it is this endemic consumerism which might now have an influence on voting patterns and shape a new alignment in these islands. 

We have all become savvy in the spending of our money and are aware of the nature of a contract. We make choices between an array of providers for our phones, banking, internet, electricity and shop around physically and on-line in search of the best deals available, weighing value against quality and quantity (our grand-parents became adept at this in the austerity of WW2). 

The penny will eventually drop, as migration turns us into a melting pot, that a government is nothing more than a very large service provider. In the same manner as with our phone company, we sign a time limited contract with our vote and at the end of that period are entitled, without termination charges, to take a new contract out with any server we wish. Crucially, we may even go back to that provider some time in the future if we so choose. 

Brexit, for all its overt complications, will probably happen with more of a whimper than a bang. It will demonstrate yet again the fleeting notion of nations and empires. We can hokey-kokey in, out, then in again if we wish. The nation can change provider, as it has done in Brexit. But the citizens may also choose a new nation as their provider. 

I am, of course, getting to a border poll. 

If the citizens of ‘here’ decide the UK is not providing the services, protections and rights that they want, then they may decide to change service provider and opt for European allegiance and the services which it provides – Ireland merely being the local brand name for the Euro company. 

This would require that people sublimate their sentimental notions of British/ Irishness to an extent. But the possibility is there. Especially if we confirm that this place continues as a unique identity wherever it goes: it would have the option to be in an Irish/EU federation or a UK federation or, who knows, a British Isles confederation, in or out of Europe. The permutations are many but depend on always retaining our own administration to, hopefully, provide more than entertainment. 

When you look at the changes which we have seen in most of our lifetimes: the former Yugoslavia, the Balkan States, Germany, the Middle East, ALL nation states are transitory entities. The present optimism amongst Brexiteers has an Osymandian portent. It was often speculated during the troubles that the British would really prefer Northern Ireland to float off into the Atlantic. This option would allow for a Laputa-like free roving state with the option at the end of every contract, eg 20 years, to up anchor again.

We have, for the moment, a lack of inspirational politicians to lead their groups one way or the other and this vacuum has created the opportunity for us all to relish the absence of school-yard loud mouths to whom we all nod obedience and from whom we seek protection. This quiet period allows us to focus on the bigger issues. What is my current service provider doing to merit my account? The current contractors are political Wonga. Let’s at least look at the various alternatives on offer and consider a new provider at the end of the period of service.


Part of the Future Ireland Series. Questions, ideas, pitches to Claire – claire@sluggerotoole.com or David – deputy@sluggerotoole.com. To keep up with other pieces in the conversation, click here.

Having retired after 35 years teaching in the geek spheres of Maths and IT, Donal O’Hanlon now devotes his time to acting, playing music, scribbling fiction and penning contrary essays. He will be very happy if he can squeeze another 35 years doing just that.