Unionism: so what’s the plan ?

The BBC reports this evening the following remarks from DUP North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley: Northern Ireland will not be used as a pawn – we opposed the withdrawal agreement, we warned about this protocol, we said it would damage the integrity. “I am glad, maybe at the last minute, the PM has wakened up to the serious threat that this poses to the union,” he said. “If the prime minister has the mettle to finish the job I welcome …

Read more…Unionism: so what’s the plan ?

‘It is absolutely crazy to think that constitutional change in Ireland would happen overnight’

Consideration of Irish unity needs careful preparation, argues Seamus McGuinness, research professor at the Republic’s Economic and Social Research Institute. He suggests looking to the example of Hong Kong, where the handover of control was undertaken over a 13 year period. Seamus was talking in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast.  The difference in economic performance, North and South, sits “at the centre of debate around constitutional change,” believes Seamus. “I come at it from the perspective of someone who worked …

Read more…‘It is absolutely crazy to think that constitutional change in Ireland would happen overnight’

’The unity conversation needs to be open, transparent, and let’s keep open minds, because we need to flesh out what Irish unity would look like and what the UK union would look like’

Ian Marshall is a beef farmer, a former dairy farmer, and was president of the Ulster Farmers Union from 2014 to 2016. But more significantly he was until earlier this year a senator in Ireland’s Oireachtas – a unionist in Ireland’s second legislative chamber. A quite remarkable situation. Many observers were disappointed – as was Ian – that he was not elected back into the Seanad’s agricultural panel, nor appointed on the lists of new Taoiseach Micheál Martin or the …

Read more…’The unity conversation needs to be open, transparent, and let’s keep open minds, because we need to flesh out what Irish unity would look like and what the UK union would look like’

Wanting to win the argument in a viable long term is not talking down Nationalism

As David has noted on Slugger, the establishment of the shared island unit in the office of An Taoiseach has intensified the discussion about our constitutional future on the island of Ireland.  There is little detail in what the work of this unit will look like and how it will approach the monumental task of restarting a conversation that caused a civil war and decades of violence North and South, but we shouldn’t be surprised. That’s how coalition governments work …

Read more…Wanting to win the argument in a viable long term is not talking down Nationalism

A Song for a Shared Island…

There are many conversations happening across the island about what a shared island might look like. Talking is vitally important but so, too, is singing. What might a shared island sound like? To be emotionally carried along by – and to sing along with – a beautiful song that appeals to the more noble, inclusive and generous parts of our common humanity is one of the greatest creative acts we can experience. Is there a song that encapsulates the desire …

Read more…A Song for a Shared Island…

Why the Shared Island unit doesn’t need to shy away from constitutional questions

Interesting article by Aiden Corkery in yesterdays Sunday Business Post on the new Shared Island Unit to be established within the Department of the Taoiseach.  In it he quotes the views of the former Fianna Fail TD and advisor, Martin Mansergh Martin Mansergh, the former Fianna Fáil TD and adviser to Bertie Ahern during the Good Friday Agreement, disagreed. He said he believed the new unit would be more focused on the more pragmatic details of north-south cooperation. These included …

Read more…Why the Shared Island unit doesn’t need to shy away from constitutional questions

There is more than one vision of a new Ireland

I’ve yet to read Paul Gosling’s book with the vaultingly ambitious yet carefully ambiguous title “A New Ireland: a new Union, a New Society.”   Judging from the discussion and its antecedents from the Holywell Trust, it makes an important contribution to enriching the debate on the future of the island.  But the logic of ideas seldom reproduces easily in politics. Political will is something else entirely. Broadly there are two contrasting approaches to the future: to follow the logic of …

Read more…There is more than one vision of a new Ireland

A debate on our constitutional future is not just the Border. It’s about re-imagining the State…

In 2018 Unionist Commentator Alex Kane travelled to Dublin to speak at a conference on Irish Unity. His message to the nationalist audience? Discussing a United Ireland was not a topic on which Unionism would engage. Kane has a keen mind and I am sure the irony of his message was not lost. But he subsequently went on to say that trying to persuade him about the merits of a United Ireland was futile, while the premise of talks based …

Read more…A debate on our constitutional future is not just the Border. It’s about re-imagining the State…

Complacent Assumptions vs Political Reality: a border poll is not inevitable…

Following the vote for Brexit in 2016, a persistent media drumbeat has highlighted the enhanced likelihood of a future border poll – a referendum for a United Ireland. Many Irish nationalists, noting the changing demographics and loss of Unionism’s political majority, have already priced it in. But is this assumption complacent, and if it does happen what are the consequences? The key to unlocking a border poll is the view of the people who live in Northern Ireland (the Republic …

Read more…Complacent Assumptions vs Political Reality: a border poll is not inevitable…

Would all nationalists vote for a new Ireland?

As discussion of a border poll has risen within the wider nationalist community, the debate about what would be needed to accommodate all identities in a new Ireland has barely begun. Ian Clarke’s thoughtful piece on Slugger about whether pro union voices were wanted threw the lack of engagement between nationalists and unionists into sharp relief. In a largely nationalist milieu, it’s easy to see how a new Ireland would look much like the current republic, but what if the proposals from …

Read more…Would all nationalists vote for a new Ireland?

Opinion on a border poll “on a knife edge” – the latest from The Detail

Here we go again.  Just a bit of cross posting here to draw attention m to a special edition of The Detail, about a border poll. The comment is based a Lucid Talk opinion poll conducted north and south, showing opinion “ on a knife edge” –   46.8%  to stay in the UK and 45.4 % for a United Ireland. The disparity now among three polls in succession can partly be accounted for by different methodology, this one on line, …

Read more…Opinion on a border poll “on a knife edge” – the latest from The Detail

The mystery of the ‘shy nationalists’ – online and face-to-face polling on Irish unity continues to give different results

The results of an opinion poll organized by Liverpool University and Britain’s Economic and Social Research have been published this week. The poll, carried out by Social Market Research, showed 29% of voters would vote for a united Ireland, with 52% against and 19% indicating that they don’t know or wouldn’t vote. Polling on Irish unity over the last couple of years has painted a confusing picture. A poll commissioned by Lord Ashcroft last year was the first to show …

Read more…The mystery of the ‘shy nationalists’ – online and face-to-face polling on Irish unity continues to give different results

A Border Poll one day? Then let’s do it right

In yet another eventful couple of weeks in politics, what caught my eye the most wasn’t plans for a national broadband service, fanciful budget splurges or cringey speeches and interviews. It wasn’t mini-electoral pacts across dozens of seats in England and the ever-changing sands of political alignment over the Great Brexit Divide. Closer to home, it wasn’t even Lady Hermon stepping down, loyalist paramilitary threats to UUP candidates, a stage-managed Sinn Fein leadership contest or the tiny dramas of other …

Read more…A Border Poll one day? Then let’s do it right

Considering the future of Northern Ireland

A panel considered how to engage in a friendly and unthreatening conversation about the future constitutional arrangements for Northern Ireland. This was held as part of a concluding reflection on the Holywell Trust’s series of 35 Forward Together podcast interviews. The panel comprised author Julieann Campbell, the commentator Denis Bradley (who was co-chair of the Consultative Group on the Past and former deputy chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board) and Maureen Hetherington of the Junction, plus myself as the …

Read more…Considering the future of Northern Ireland

A “likely” story – the Secretary of State needs to explain under what circumstances he would hold a border poll

Following the release of Lord Ashcroft’s poll earlier today, showing that a narrow majority of Northern Ireland voters are in favour of Irish unification once those not expressing an opinion are excluded, it is worth exploring the crucial role that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has on the question of whether a border poll is held. Schedule 1, paragraph 2 of the Good Friday Agreement states that “the Secretary of State shall exercise the power under paragraph 1 …

Read more…A “likely” story – the Secretary of State needs to explain under what circumstances he would hold a border poll

Ashcroft poll on support the backstop, reunification and party leaders

Lord Ashcroft has released the findings of his poll surveying Northern Ireland voters about their attitudes towards a border poll, the backstop and the various party leaders.  Border Poll He says about this In my poll, 45 per cent said that they would vote to stay in the UK, and 46 per cent said they would choose to leave and join the Republic of Ireland – a lead of 51 per cent to 49 per cent for unification when we …

Read more…Ashcroft poll on support the backstop, reunification and party leaders

Adams “A referendum without a plan is stupid”

Something that happened towards the end of week was a blog post written by former Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams about the issue of having a plan for Irish unification. In his blog post he says; This needs planned now. Not after the referendum. That is the one big lesson of Brexit. A referendum without a plan is stupid. So a referendum on unity must be set in a thoughtful inclusive process which sets out a programme of sustainable options. …

Read more…Adams “A referendum without a plan is stupid”

Sinn Féin are the Greatest Advocates for a United Ireland but are they the Biggest Barrier to it?

In the wake of the local and European elections, North & South of Ireland, a number of things have become clear for both Unionism and Nationalism in Northern Ireland, and significantly, questions will be asked of Sinn Féin after a hammering at the ballot box. Sinn Féin have been the most vocal and vociferous advocates for a United Ireland, since their inception. It is their raison d’être and has dictated everything for them from policy to electoral strategy to fundraising …

Read more…Sinn Féin are the Greatest Advocates for a United Ireland but are they the Biggest Barrier to it?

Border poll ferment hits a high spot in the Euros exit poll

The Red C exit poll records an astounding result on Irish Unity – so amazing that it’s presented as tucked in after another positive result on the Irish language, as if they don’t quite  believe it. Newton tweets Support for a united Ireland rises as support for Sinn Fein falls. Perhaps the southern electorate is more sophisticated on this point than it gets credit for.   What’s happening to them down there, so drunk with euphoria about what a terrific …

Read more…Border poll ferment hits a high spot in the Euros exit poll

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 …

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