Brexit lights touchpaper for next political firestorm – Irish unity

McSlaggart

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Tricky economic questions await those advancing Irish unit

Brexit has unleashed many demons in Northern Ireland, and on the island generally. It has shaken social, political and economic structures, and raised a constitutional question about what Ireland will look like a generation from now.
Unionist politicians think this imp can be squeezed back into the Pandora’s Box once, if ever, Brexit is out of the way. A significant cohort of nationalists think otherwise.
Seven years ago The Irish Times spoke to a number of people about what the future might bring. These included Peter Shirlow, now professor of Irish studies at the University of Liverpool, and Brian Feeney, an historian, commentator and Irish News columnist, who also served as an SDLP councillor in north Belfast during the Troubles.
They know this place, and have amended their views on what they believe or suspect is ahead in the next 25 years or so in light of Brexit.
They agree that the biggest question is whether Brexit will hasten the dawn of a united Ireland. It has certainly accelerated the push, as illustrated by the growth of civic nationalism in the past two years.
 


Lumpy Talbot

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There are certain issues that rise above economic challenges and concerns and this is one of them. If the same concern only for the balance sheet was shown around Irish nationalism historically we'd still be a colony.

If your head only encompasses the concerns of the fumbling in the greasy till then you are a mere shopkeeper and less of a citizen.

I can just see it now. "We can't move on the Easter weekend, Mr Pearse. It would have a negative effect on the consumer economy".

Mind you the Irish Times, not unexpectedly, took that line around the Rising. It pointed out that middle class Dubliners had been prevented from shopping due to the fighting and called for the strongest possible measures against the criminals who had interrupted said middle-class shopping.
 

sic transit

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There are certain issues that rise above economic challenges and concerns and this is one of them. If the same concern only for the balance sheet was shown around Irish nationalism historically we'd still be a colony.

If your head only encompasses the concerns of the fumbling in the greasy till then you are a mere shopkeeper and less of a citizen.

I can just see it now. "We can't move on the Easter weekend, Mr Pearse. It would have a negative effect on the consumer economy".

Mind you the Irish Times, not unexpectedly, took that line around the Rising. It pointed out that middle class Dubliners had been prevented from shopping due to the fighting and called for the strongest possible measures against the criminals who had interrupted said middle-class shopping.
Well, the greasy till does come with some very eye-watering sums and some serious financial hits on both sides of the border. It is part of the conversation and can't just be ignored.
 

Watcher2

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Tricky economic questions await those advancing Irish unit

Brexit has unleashed many demons in Northern Ireland, and on the island generally. It has shaken social, political and economic structures, and raised a constitutional question about what Ireland will look like a generation from now.
Unionist politicians think this imp can be squeezed back into the Pandora’s Box once, if ever, Brexit is out of the way. A significant cohort of nationalists think otherwise.
Seven years ago The Irish Times spoke to a number of people about what the future might bring. These included Peter Shirlow, now professor of Irish studies at the University of Liverpool, and Brian Feeney, an historian, commentator and Irish News columnist, who also served as an SDLP councillor in north Belfast during the Troubles.
They know this place, and have amended their views on what they believe or suspect is ahead in the next 25 years or so in light of Brexit.
They agree that the biggest question is whether Brexit will hasten the dawn of a united Ireland. It has certainly accelerated the push, as illustrated by the growth of civic nationalism in the past two years.
I doubt civic nationalism has grown. I think the usual loudmouths merely got louder.
 

Watcher2

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Well, the greasy till does come with some very eye-watering sums and some serious financial hits on both sides of the border. It is part of the conversation and can't just be ignored.
Exactly. It would be negligent not to consider the penury a united Ireland would impose upon its people North and South. This is also not to mention the very real threat of terrorist activity for the non Republican side of the population.
 

McSlaggart

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Exactly. It would be negligent not to consider the penury a united Ireland would impose upon its people North and South. This is also not to mention the very real threat of terrorist activity for the non Republican side of the population.
Do you honestly think the good people of Northern Ireland are somehow less productive than the people on the rest of the Island? Secondly Tyrone has always had a majority nationalist population. Do you think the people of Tyrone should always stay in the UK?
 

Glaucon

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Do you honestly think the good people of Northern Ireland are somehow less productive than the people on the rest of the Island? Secondly Tyrone has always had a majority nationalist population. Do you think the people of Tyrone should always stay in the UK?
There's a reasonable argument to be made for repartition. Tyrone, Derry, Fermanagh etc. should never have been part of the Northern statelet in the first place. Why would the rest of Ireland want to take on Loyalist sink estates or places like Larne if it can be avoided?

Give most of County Derry, all of Tyrone and Fermanagh, most of Armagh, south Down and nationalist areas of Antrim and Belfast to Ireland and leave the divided rump for Britain to manage.
 

McSlaggart

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Why would the rest of Ireland want to take on Loyalist sink estates or places like Larne if it can be avoided?
In truth places like Larne we just have to work harder to make them better. Take a Northern European approach rather than the British one.
 

Watcher2

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Do you honestly think the good people of Northern Ireland are somehow less productive than the people on the rest of the Island? Secondly Tyrone has always had a majority nationalist population. Do you think the people of Tyrone should always stay in the UK?
Based on how such things are calculated, as a population, no, they are not. The civil and public service is a massive drag in the North. The Republic is unable to adequately provide for the citizens in the 26. There is no way, despite the lies and spin of the Dublin government, that NI can be afforded fiscally by us. Those looking for a united Ireland need to start looking at where they are running to and stop looking back at what they are running from.

As for your second point, reality never ceases to amaze me. Those looking for a united Ireland tend to believe partition was an evil act, yet here you are looking for a doubling down.

Jesus wept.
 

McTell

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No
//

If your head only encompasses the concerns of the fumbling in the greasy till then you are a mere shopkeeper and less of a citizen.

//
The "greasy till" is a terrible way of describing how the huge social costs of NI will be paid for by us.

You are saying in effect that many or most of the former "working class" will have to move elsewhere, given that our public provision is not up to the UK's, and as the state has never gone out of its way for the poor.

We have 2 bills to face -

1. The subvention that has been there since the 1930s, now around £10,000,000,000 annually, and so if we have 2,000,000 taxpayers here an average extra load of 5,000 p.a. on each.

2. The agreed net value of infrastructure like airports, roads, hospitals, not paid for in the £10 bill.... a bit more anyway. The EU might step in, but then they will want something from us like corporate tax reform.

End result, a poorer but united irish province of the eu. Sorta like we were in 1900.
 

Glaucon

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In truth places like Larne we just have to work harder to make them better. Take a Northern European approach rather than the British one.
Based on the principle of minimising risk, we can be sure that there will be violence in the event of a united Ireland. Irish soldiers and policemen will be killed and maimed by Loyalist terrorists. Working to reduce that risk insofar as is practicable would be a sensible thing to do. Furthermore, small Loyalist communities are unlikely to risk violence if it is clear that they are totally outnumbered.

Integrating huge numbers of recalcitrant Unionists and Loyalists into an Irish Republic is an enormous task and likely unworkable. At best it will end up as a cold conflict with divided government as in modern Bosnia, at worst it will degenerate into brutal ethnic cleansing as in the old Yugoslavia. The blindness to certain Loyalist violence in the event of a united Ireland is a critical weakness in Sinn Féin's plans. They seem to think that by pretending it won't happen, everything will be all right on the night. It won't.
 
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Watcher2

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Based on the principle of minimising risk, we can be sure that there will be violence in the event of a united Ireland. Irish soldiers and policemen will be killed and maimed by Loyalist terrorists. Working to reduce that risk insofar as is practicable would be a sensible thing to do. Furthermore, small Loyalist communities are unlikely to risk violence if it is clear that they are totally outnumbered.

Integrating huge numbers of recalcitrant Unionists and Loyalists into an Irish Republic is an enormous task and likely unworkable. At best it will end up as a cold conflict with divided government as in modern Bosnia, at worst it will degenerate into brutal ethnic cleansing as in the old Yugoslavia. The blindness to certain Loyalist violence in the event of a united Ireland is a critical weakness in Sinn Féin's plans. They seem to think that by pretending it won't happen, everything will be all right on the night. It won't.
Nail on head. Its what I have been saying ever since Brexit is being used as an excuse. The general response I get is (paraphrasing) "fvck em", or "let them shag off to Britain and their queen". Of curse these are the bigoted, insular inbred types but they are the ones who have caused the trouble ever since the IRA started to engage in true criminal thuggery against "their own" - killing gardai, robbing Irish banks and post offices etc.
 

Glaucon

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Nail on head. Its what I have been saying ever since Brexit is being used as an excuse. The general response I get is (paraphrasing) "fvck em", or "let them shag off to Britain and their queen". Of curse these are the bigoted, insular inbred types but they are the ones who have caused the trouble ever since the IRA started to engage in true criminal thuggery against "their own" - killing gardai, robbing Irish banks and post offices etc.
Dissident republicans are a small percentage of the Nationalist population and despite appearences, have little real support. In the event of a conflict with Loyalists however, you can be certain that large numbers of people will become radicalised and start killing. This is the lesson of all such conflicts around the world. When people feel attacked, they strike out with great brutality.

The current Northern statelet is totally unworkable and is riddled by its own contradictions (created for a Protestant people but having to cater to a near majority opposed to its existence). The question is how can the current situation be brought to an end with the least collateral damage for everyone?

It is totally unjust to demand that large majorities in Tyrone, Fermanagh or the west bank of the Foyle be subject to foreign rule. They are as Irish as anyone else. But when it comes to East Belfast, Larne and other such places, is there a need to try to integrate violent fanatics that are hellbent on defending "Ulster"? Let the British pay for them.

If Nationalists really want to stay there, I'm sure an agreement can be worked out where their rights are respected in a new set-up in exchange for the same being granted to Unionists and Loyalists elsewhere.
 

McSlaggart

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Based on the principle of minimising risk, we can be sure that there will be violence in the event of a united Ireland. Irish soldiers and policemen will be killed and maimed by Loyalist terrorists. Working to reduce that risk insofar as is practicable would be a sensible thing to do. Furthermore, small Loyalist communities are unlikely to risk violence if it is clear that they are totally outnumbered.

Integrating huge numbers of recalcitrant Unionists and Loyalists into an Irish Republic is an enormous task and likely unworkable. At best it will end up as a cold conflict with divided government as in modern Bosnia, at worst it will degenerate into brutal ethnic cleansing as in the old Yugoslavia. The blindness to certain Loyalist violence in the event of a united Ireland is a critical weakness in Sinn Féin's plans. They seem to think that by pretending it won't happen, everything will be all right on the night. It won't.

I equally do not see any great fight coming from Unionism. Who are they going to fight and what would be the objective?
 

McSlaggart

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Dissident republicans are a small percentage of the Nationalist population and despite appearences, have little real support. In the event of a conflict with Loyalists however, you can be certain that large numbers of people will become radicalised and start killing. This is the lesson of all such conflicts around the world. When people feel attacked, they strike out with great brutality.

What will be their objective and more to the point in the transition phase they would be fighting the UK forces.
 

Watcher2

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Dissident republicans are a small percentage of the Nationalist population and despite appearences, have little real support. In the event of a conflict with Loyalists however, you can be certain that large numbers of people will become radicalised and start killing. This is the lesson of all such conflicts around the world. When people feel attacked, they strike out with great brutality.

The current Northern statelet is totally unworkable and is riddled by its own contradictions (created for a Protestant people but having to cater to a near majority opposed to its existence). The question is how can the current situation be brought to an end with the least collateral damage for everyone?

It is totally unjust to demand that large majorities in Tyrone, Fermanagh or the west bank of the Foyle be subject to foreign rule. They are as Irish as anyone else. But when it comes to East Belfast, Larne and other such places, is there a need to try to integrate violent fanatics that are hellbent on defending "Ulster"? Let the British pay for them.

If Nationalists really want to stay there, I'm sure an agreement can be worked out where their rights are respected in a new set-up in exchange for the same being granted to Unionists and Loyalists elsewhere.
But there wasn't foreign rule until McGuinness pulled the plug on the Assembly. What you say you are looking for in your last paragraph is exactly what was there. All the noise seems to be drowning out this fact.
 

Glaucon

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But there wasn't foreign rule until McGuinness pulled the plug on the Assembly. What you say you are looking for in your last paragraph is exactly what was there. All the noise seems to be drowning out this fact.
"Northern Ireland" is an integral part of the United Kingdom. The GFA merely established a local assembly with a few meaningless cross-border bodies. It changed nothing of fundamental value despite being sold as such.

The Assembly came down because of the DUP's shady dealings and total unwillingness to compromise with other parties (not only Sinn Féin). If it is re-established, it will change nothing in the long-term. All nationalist parties (including in the South) want British rule brought to an end, the only disagreement is how to get there.
 


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