Future Ireland / How will the PUL be accommodated in a United Ireland?

This week, we’re featuring submissions from readers on the theme of ‘Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations about Unity and the Union’. Competition winners will be published on Saturday.

By ‘Danny Boy’.

According to the demographics, there could be a nationalist majority within Northern Ireland in the not-too distant future, which some think will automatically lead to the re-unification of this island.

So what will happen to all those people living within Northern Ireland who class themselves as being from the PUL community? If unity happens, there will need to be concessions for PUL people with regards to culture, nationality and such like, if there is to be PUL buy in.

I have heard Mary-Lou MacDonald speak several times on this issue, and she seems to think after unity, we will live happily ever after as Irish people.

Unfortunately, it probably won’t be that simple. For PUL people, there are a number of questions which need to be discussed and answered, long before we even start to think about unity.

Will the PUL community still have the option to hold a British passport in the same way that nationalists living in Northern Ireland can currently hold an Irish passport? Will Northern Irish sports stars still be able to compete for Great Britain in the Olympics or compete with British licenses in motor sports events such as Johnny Rea, Kris Meeke or Eddie Irvine and John Watson in the past?

Would the Northern Ireland football team and netball team still be allowed to continue? Of course there is a precedent for this because the United Kingdom is one country but currently has four football teams and four netball teams and would still have three teams from each country if Northern Ireland was to leave the United Kingdom. So even if there was a United Ireland as one country, it could still have two football teams and two netball teams.

Would Remembrance services still be held in the Northern Irish part of a united Ireland on Remembrance Sunday? Would the 12th of July still be a public holiday in the Northern Irish part of a united Ireland, and would the Orange Order and Apprentice boys still be allowed to hold their 3000 parades per year?

And if they were allowed to hold parades, who would decide on contentious parades? Would it be the Gardai? Or would there be a new parades’ commission, appointed and paid for by the Irish Government?

Would there still be a devolved administration at Stormont and if so, what powers would it have? Would it still be organised on the D’Hondt system?

Would Northern Ireland still be allowed to compete in the Commonwealth Games? Or would Ireland re-join the Commonwealth and compete as a joint all-Ireland team, perhaps again having two separate teams competing?

If Ireland was to re-join the Commonwealth, would they still keep the President as Head of State rather than the British Monarch being Head of State, as happens with India?

Would Sinn Fein continue to hold and attend commemoration events for the IRA, and for hunger strikers? Do members of Sinn Fein appreciate how every time they do this, it sets the PUL community on edge, and makes their support of a united Ireland even less likely?

As a ‘lapsed’ Unionist I actually have no problem with a united Ireland. However, I cannot shake my deep discomfort about the idea of a united Ireland shaped by Sinn Fein. And if I have a problem with this, then Sinn Fein may have a big problem trying to persuade the wider PUL community that they have nothing to fear from unity.

I think that all united Irelanders (on both sides of the border) really need to seriously look at these questions, and to decide if they really do want the PUL community in a united Ireland. And if they do, how might they give members of the PUL community some answers they can live with?

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