Northern Ireland

I'm a republican and a nationalist.....but that doesn't mean what you might think it means.

First up, I would like to see a united and independent Ireland. I believe that a united Ireland could be a peaceful and prosperous place.

Why? Well, looking at history, the period prior to the 1801 Act of Union was certainly not one where Irish people were well respected or well treated and the case for Ireland being its own nation was clear even back then.

Then, after the Act of Union (creating the UK) I don't believe that the "United Kingdom" ever worked on the basis that Irish people were equal with British people. That can be seen clearly in the 19th century and even today with the events around Ballymurphy and the British political reaction.

It might have worked, if it had been tried. It was never tried. Ireland in the UK really meant Ireland ruled from Britain and dominated by Britain. That wasn't OK then and wouldn't be OK today.

So, independence was and is a good idea. Besides, British people don't give two hoots about Ireland. They have their own country and they're proud of it. And that's fine. Other than the recent ructions around Brexit, the past few decades have shown that Ireland and Britain can get along perfectly well.

Then... on the specific question of Northern Ireland.

I think Northern Ireland is Ireland. Northern Irish Unionists and Nationalists are as Irish as a West Cork Murphy or any other cliché you can mention. I think it's also pretty clear that the majority of British people don't regard Northern Irish people (Nationalist or Unionist) as anything except Irish either.

Like it or not, we're all Irish together. Whether your bloodline goes back to Celt or lowland Scot (or China or Nigeria or France), if you're here you're Irish. At the end of the day we're stuck with each other.

And that belief - alongside basic morality - is also what shapes my view on HOW a united Ireland should be achieved....if it can be achieved. No-one has the right to shoot or bomb anyone else to force them into a united Ireland. Just NO.

Again, firstly it's illegal and immoral. Secondly, it's just unhelpful in achieving the goal. We need to do this and have it be a happy ending not a situation where we're waiting for the next dramatic episode. I can't say I'm a fan of Edwin Poots or Sammy Wilson , but I insist that we should figure out how to live together willingly rather than doing it at the point of a gun....either of us.

Sinn Fein and a united Ireland?

Sinn Fein is not about a united Ireland. They want to win some war that they still have in their nasty little heads. A war of "us and them" when it's actually "us and us". Sinn Fein do not regard northern Irish unionists as Irish. They tried murdering them out of Fermanagh and Tyrone in the 1980s. You watch election celebrations and who Sinn Fein memorialize and it's still all about "killing Brits". Except most of the "Brits" they killed were either Irish or innocent or both, as are most of the "Brits" that they hate.

Sinn Fein isn't about a united Ireland...they're about some imaginary pure Ireland, rid of "planters" and "colonists" and "West Brits" and anyone who doesn't believe in some loony pure Celtic Ireland. They're about winning...winning some war that was put into their heads by British divide-and-rule policy in Ireland long ago and which is still camping out free in their rattly little skulls.

Every vote for Sinn Fein makes a peaceful united Ireland less likely.

If I was a northern unionist and I saw Ireland ruled by Sinn Fein I'd be correctly horrified and extremely unlikely to accept a united Ireland under any circumstances. That might mean I leave Ireland (which would be bad for Ireland) or that I do something violent (which would be bad for Ireland), or that I resist a united Ireland before during and after its creation in any way I could (which would be bad for Ireland).

Surely we've had enough emigration and murder and disunity.

A border poll

Brexit has put a border poll on the table as an actual possibility. By law and treaty the criterion for changing the status of Northern Ireland is 50% + one vote. Since that's the criterion for keeping Northern Ireland as it is now, that does seem fair.

But....and it's a big but...we know what Northern Ireland is now. Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland can live there reasonably happily now. Unionists have no basis to be confident about that prospect in a future united Ireland. Remember that Home Rule DID mean Rome Rule. (It meant worse than that in we all know). But the "South" didn't exactly cover itself in honor as regards tolerance and inclusivity either.

So - if and when we do get to a Border Poll, it's vital that the nature of the post-Poll state is already worked out in reasonable detail. That it's already clearly and really a country that unionists could live in and be part of and be proud of.

What would that be exactly? I don't know. I have no desire to be part of any "British Commonwealth" any more than I accept people calling Ireland part of "The British Isles". I have absolutely no desire to live in a monarchy, thanks. But - for instance - I don't care that much about flags or anthems...or about lots of other stuff. My mother grew up in a country where it was normal to learn the tune and words to "The Sash". Nowadays that's not true and Ireland has lost its own connection to a part of itself.

We should not rush to a border poll until it'll win by far more than 50% + one vote. And yes, that might mean a delay. Better that than chaos and division. Better to do it right, once, than cause another partition or another "Troubles".