Can Ulster Unionism be persuaded of the merits of a United Ireland?

seabhac siulach

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"Brexit challenges the identity of Ulster unionism"Brexit challenges the identity of Ulster unionism

In today's Irish Times, the Northern Irish Unionist Alex Kane writes what is essentially a "come and get us" letter to Irish nationalism. It of the highest significance, in my opinion, and shows how Brexit has shattered the pre-existing constitutional certainties. It is most illuminative of the thinking taking place at present within the highest ranks of Unionism.

In the article Kane more than hints that moderate Unionists post-Brexit could be persuaded to join a United Ireland, if a broad non-Sinn-Féin-led coalition of nationalists could present a convincing case.

Have we the politicians of the required calibre to seize this opportunity, however? I am doubtful. It is clear that, contrary to what they might wish, Sinn Féin are an impediment to unity, carrying (still) too much baggage from the recent past. Fine Gael, Labour et al are 26 County nationalists at best (Leo Varadkar anyone?). Fianna Fáil, amazingly, did not even have a policy on unity and now (in response to Sinn Féin's lead on this) are hastily cobbling one together.

Where then does the lead on this come from? What baggage-free group/groups can take up the banner and seize an historical opportunity to achieve what should be a national objective? What pro-national forces are capable of countering the anti-national forces and agendas in the establishment and media? Will we see this opportunity lost due to the lack of imagination and small-town thinking of our pygmy political class?

I hope not, but I am not hopeful.
 


cropbeye

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One would only have to win over 7 or 8% to vote for it it's dooable.

Half of the rest would be laid back in that they would not vote for it but also not see it as
some nightmare outcome and thus settle down to the new reality quite quickly.
 

enuffisenuff

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more chance of me shifting this...

 

LadyLou

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To answer the question asked in the OP................doubt it, if they spend any

time reading P.ie.
 

Dame_Enda

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If Brexit goes badly a case could be made to the Unionist business community that a UI would restore access to the Single market on equal terms.

However the pre Brexit Spotlight poll on BBC showed that even when asked about how they would vote if a UI made them better or worse off, it made no difference to how Unionists would vote but made a lot of driving deference to how Catholics would vote.

I don't think our politicians down here are prepared to put a UI before interparty competition. FF and FG continue to treat SF as a near pariah in Irish politics eg not supporting SF resolutions even when they agree with them.

The real swing vote are middle class Catholics not Protestants.
 

former wesleyan

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The nub:-

A significant minority of unionists voted to Remain. They like the European Union, and regard it as a stabilising influence in Northern Ireland. They like being Northern Irish, British, partly Irish and European. That multiplicity of identities suits them.
 

seabhac siulach

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However the pre Brexit Spotlight poll on BBC showed that even when asked about how they would vote if a UI made them better or worse off, it made no difference to how Unionists would vote but made a lot of driving deference to how Catholics would vote...

The real swing vote are middle class Catholics not Protestants.
I would agree. Middle class Catholics are essentially the archetypal Unionists with a small u. I do not see Unionism in religious, ie Protestant/Catholic, terms. Such shorthand is misleading.

As to the issue of whether Unionists would vote for a UI, irrespective of whether it made them better or worse off, the point must be made that Brexit has not happened yet!
When it does, or as the consequences become clearer, attitudes could change. I do appreciate that nationalisms are not logical and often work counter to a people's best economic/social interests. We will see what sacrifices Unionists are willing to endure in the years ahead to maintain the Queen's image on their stamps. It is easy to be "brave" before the event.

Regardless, the Irish govt and interested parties should do all possible to make unity palatable, to prepare, including proposals to alter the constitution, introduce an Irish NHS equivalent etc. Is this being done? There are many attractive sides to modern Ireland (tolerance, etc) and these also need to be sold.
 

Karloff

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Is it wise to seek to forge a nation out of enemy peoples who not only hate the other but have allegiance to a different country? One of the things a nation should be is stable with it's people having allegiance and some level of fondness for the nation. It's different to having groups who disagree on the direction of a country or it's culture but still have allegiance to it.

If a UI happens it should happen without red carpets and inducements and Unionist quotas and vetoes. Let the demographics decide or repartition.

Sinn Féin are an impediment to unity, carrying (still) too much baggage from the recent past. Fine Gael, Labour et al are 26 County nationalists at best (Leo Varadkar anyone?)
FG are right wing europhiles - they are not nationalists of any stripe. Labour are not much different. Even SF seem to be changing fast day by day, what they will be in 20 years is anyone's guess.
 

Supra

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"Brexit challenges the identity of Ulster unionism"Brexit challenges the identity of Ulster unionism

In today's Irish Times, the Northern Irish Unionist Alex Kane writes what is essentially a "come and get us" letter to Irish nationalism. It of the highest significance, in my opinion, and shows how Brexit has shattered the pre-existing constitutional certainties. It is most illuminative of the thinking taking place at present within the highest ranks of Unionism.

In the article Kane more than hints that moderate Unionists post-Brexit could be persuaded to join a United Ireland, if a broad non-Sinn-Féin-led coalition of nationalists could present a convincing case.

Have we the politicians of the required calibre to seize this opportunity, however? I am doubtful. It is clear that, contrary to what they might wish, Sinn Féin are an impediment to unity, carrying (still) too much baggage from the recent past. Fine Gael, Labour et al are 26 County nationalists at best (Leo Varadkar anyone?). Fianna Fáil, amazingly, did not even have a policy on unity and now (in response to Sinn Féin's lead on this) are hastily cobbling one together.

Where then does the lead on this come from? What baggage-free group/groups can take up the banner and seize an historical opportunity to achieve what should be a national objective? What pro-national forces are capable of countering the anti-national forces and agendas in the establishment and media? Will we see this opportunity lost due to the lack of imagination and small-town thinking of our pygmy political class?

I hope not, but I am not hopeful.
At this stage the only role SF have to play is to keep the idea alive. It's a vital role.

The lead from this will come from progressive Unionism and progressive Monarchism. I believe the young are mostly progressive. True progressive Unionists and monarchists will eventually see the folly in their positions and it'll become ok to turn on those positions as outdated. Much like the Progressive republicans in FF and FG turned on republicanism.
 

Killerbank

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"Brexit challenges the identity of Ulster unionism"Brexit challenges the identity of Ulster unionism

In today's Irish Times, the Northern Irish Unionist Alex Kane writes what is essentially a "come and get us" letter to Irish nationalism. It of the highest significance, in my opinion, and shows how Brexit has shattered the pre-existing constitutional certainties. It is most illuminative of the thinking taking place at present within the highest ranks of Unionism.

In the article Kane more than hints that moderate Unionists post-Brexit could be persuaded to join a United Ireland, if a broad non-Sinn-Féin-led coalition of nationalists could present a convincing case.

Have we the politicians of the required calibre to seize this opportunity, however? I am doubtful. It is clear that, contrary to what they might wish, Sinn Féin are an impediment to unity, carrying (still) too much baggage from the recent past. Fine Gael, Labour et al are 26 County nationalists at best (Leo Varadkar anyone?). Fianna Fáil, amazingly, did not even have a policy on unity and now (in response to Sinn Féin's lead on this) are hastily cobbling one together.

Where then does the lead on this come from? What baggage-free group/groups can take up the banner and seize an historical opportunity to achieve what should be a national objective? What pro-national forces are capable of countering the anti-national forces and agendas in the establishment and media? Will we see this opportunity lost due to the lack of imagination and small-town thinking of our pygmy political class?

I hope not, but I am not hopeful.


Assuming we in the Republic actually want them (which is questionable), the big elephant in the room would not be religion but the Irish language, the obsessive promotion of which has caused Ireland to feel more and more like an alien country even to ourselves down here - not to mention to Ulster unionists.

The first necessary step in abandoning this bit of self indulgent nonsense would be the repeal of the Official Languages Act 2003 which forces every public body in the Republic to promote Irish ahead of English in all its public communications.
 

GDPR

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There was a very interesting Lucid Tracker poll released in December of 2016, which showed significant shifts in Nationalist and Unionist opinion post-BREXIT.

Preferred Constitutional Position - All Voters

NI part of UK and EU: 30.1%
NI part of UK, not EU: 25.3%
United Ireland in EU: 24.2%
United Ireland regardless of EU: 20.2%

Unionists:

NI part of UK and EU: 32.8%
NI part of UK, not EU: 58.4%
United Ireland in EU: 8.1%
United Ireland regardless of EU: 0.7%

Nationalists:

NI part of UK and EU: 4.3%
NI part of UK, not EU: 0.3%
United Ireland in EU: 67.6%
United Ireland regardless of EU: 27.8%

So overall, we have 44% in favour of a UI, 95% of Nationalists in favour and one third of Unionists in favour of a constitutional position other than the one they will actually get in 2019 when Britain exits the EU.


 

Jim Car

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I would say they can be persuaded but the ones least likely to persuade them are the ones pushing the idea of a UI the hardest. Problem is nearly all groups say the right thing in public but once you hear people and what they say in private about unionism and being both British and Irish it immediately discredits a lot of what they profess in public to believe. Hence the reason unionists does not trust.
 

seabhac siulach

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There was a very interesting Lucid Tracker poll released in December of 2016, which showed significant shifts in Nationalist and Unionist opinion post-BREXIT.

Preferred Constitutional Position - All Voters

NI part of UK and EU: 30.1%
NI part of UK, not EU: 25.3%
United Ireland in EU: 24.2%
United Ireland regardless of EU: 20.2%

Unionists:

NI part of UK and EU: 32.8%
NI part of UK, not EU: 58.4%
United Ireland in EU: 8.1%
United Ireland regardless of EU: 0.7%

Nationalists:

NI part of UK and EU: 4.3%
NI part of UK, not EU: 0.3%
United Ireland in EU: 67.6%
United Ireland regardless of EU: 27.8%

So overall, we have 44% in favour of a UI, 95% of Nationalists in favour and one third of Unionists in favour of a constitutional position other than the one they will actually get in 2019 when Britain exits the EU.


Interesting. And this is before any real negatives from Brexit have manifested themselves. 44% is a higher percentage than I would have guessed at this early stage.

The onus is on Unionists (or shall we say those of British culture?) to make the best deal possible now, while still in a position of relative strength, and where they can achieve better negotiated outcomes, rather than wait until they are forced to make a deal under pressure and under much worse conditions (Brexit, demographics, resurgent toxic English nationalism).
I fear, however, that Unionist politicians are not preparing their populations for inevitable compromises. Ulster Unionism is in crisis, abandoned without a thought by the England they wish union with.
 

GDPR

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Interesting. And this is before any real negatives from Brexit have manifested themselves. 44% is a higher percentage than I would have guessed at this early stage.

The onus is on Unionists (or shall we say those of British culture?) to make the best deal possible now, while still in a position of relative strength, and where they can achieve better negotiated outcomes, rather than wait until they are forced to make a deal under pressure and under much worse conditions (Brexit, demographics, resurgent toxic English nationalism).
I fear, however, that Unionist politicians are not preparing their populations for inevitable compromises. Ulster Unionism is in crisis, abandoned without a thought by the England they wish union with.
The Poll is significant because (a) it shows a collapse in nationalist support for the status quo which had previously always been in the 20s% in similar surveys and (b) it indicates what any inhabitant of NI could have told you - there isn't a monolithic Unionist bloc which supports remaining in the UK, coute qui coute.

8% even favour a UI in EU.

I agree with you that to say to nationalists it is entirely your responsibility to "court unionism" is a bit silly. It has been pointed out to Unionists for 20 years that if they wanted that acquiescent nationalist bloc to stick with present arrangements they should really do some proper outreach instead of yelling "You are here - suck it up!"

On a few related points - it will be a holy wonder if the NHS survives at all with the Tories in power and the UK out of the EU. NI was very lucky that for a couple of decades post-GFA, no wanted to make any serious cuts in order to allow the Peace Process to bed in. That all ceased after 2010.

NI is going to be hit very hard by BREXIT. Almost all of one "community" has absolutely zero allegiance to the UK and one third of the other is not satisfied with a constitutional position that does not allow them to be members of the EU. I would call that a precarious situation for Unionism.

I give it five years personally, but we shall see.
 

GDPR

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Why anyone is indulging Alex Kane's vanity is beyond me- and he frankly has disgraced himself in stooping to this level, but the fact that he has is indicative of a crisis that will not necessarily result in a united Ireland. He is inviting fawning while all the time knowing that him suggesting the border goes outside of the UK would be his pride capitulating; not something he would be keen on....This is the man who said that he would leave Ulster for good if it ever left the UK.
 

Novos

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There was a very interesting Lucid Tracker poll released in December of 2016, which showed significant shifts in Nationalist and Unionist opinion post-BREXIT.

Preferred Constitutional Position - All Voters

NI part of UK and EU: 30.1%
NI part of UK, not EU: 25.3%
United Ireland in EU: 24.2%
United Ireland regardless of EU: 20.2%

Unionists:

NI part of UK and EU: 32.8%
NI part of UK, not EU: 58.4%
United Ireland in EU: 8.1%
United Ireland regardless of EU: 0.7%

Nationalists:

NI part of UK and EU: 4.3%
NI part of UK, not EU: 0.3%
United Ireland in EU: 67.6%
United Ireland regardless of EU: 27.8%

So overall, we have 44% in favour of a UI, 95% of Nationalists in favour and one third of Unionists in favour of a constitutional position other than the one they will actually get in 2019 when Britain exits the EU.


Lucid Talk themselves have said that poll does not mean that at all. You are double counting the same numbers.
But even it the poll did say that 44.4% support UI it would obviously be an anomaly. No other poll shows anything like those figures. Even Lucid Talks previous poll only showed 27% and they say in the notes that the one you are quoting is broadly in agreement.
 


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