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United Ireland - a marriage of give and take?

by Frank Schnittger Mon Dec 27th, 2021 at 12:40:20 AM EST

Fintan O'Toole has written a piece arguing that Believers in a united Ireland without trade-offs are as bad as Brexiteers. (Regrettably subscriber only). In it he argues that those who believe that a united Ireland will simply be a takeover of the north by the south are as guilty of wishful thinking as the Brexiteers.

So far so good. However he then goes on to compare any such union to a marriage which requires a lot of give and take to work well. I don't think that is a good analogy because there are many different strands of opinion both north and south, and unionists simply have no incentive to engage in any negotiation prior to a vote under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, as any such discussion would only make a vote for re-unification more likely.

The Irish Times has published my letter in response (see also below the fold).


United Ireland - a marriage of give and take?

A chara, - Fintan O'Toole writes that many people are living under the delusion that a united Ireland wouldn't require considerable compromises on the part of voters in the south if it were to become a reality ("Believers in a united Ireland without trade-offs are as bad as Brexiteers", Opinion & Analysis, December 18th).


However, he omits one crucial detail in his discussion. A united Ireland is not only dependent on a majority in the north voting for it in a poll called at the whim of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. It also requires a majority in the south to vote for it in a constitutional referendum to amend our Constitution to accommodate the north and its various communities.

Not only are the terms of that constitutional amendment as yet unclear, but a vote in favour is dependent on a majority being broadly supportive of the details contained therein. Unlike the UK we do not vote on a broad principle like Brexit, we vote for very precise changes to our Constitution, the implications of which have been spelled out by an independent referendum commission.

Such a constitutional referendum can only be called after the north has voted for unification, and its precise form will be determined by the debate that has taken place in Northern Ireland prior to their vote. People in the south may well decide that the costs of reunification, the risks of violence, and the compromises contained in any reunification proposal are simply not worth it.

If, as I suspect, an ultra-English nationalist UK government in economic difficulties decides one day to off-load the costs and bother of Northern Ireland onto Ireland, we are under no obligation to accept them. I suspect some very detailed negotiations between the two governments would have to take place first, setting out how the costs and risks of the transition of sovereignty are to be borne.

No doubt the UK government would take the views of loyalists into account. However, an Irish government which doesn't take into account the views of Irish voters risks losing the referendum. There is no obligation on Irish voters to accept compromises they don't like.

Indeed, so long as there isn't a discussion with active unionist participation, any speculation of the exact form of reunification is so much hot air. Why concede (say) on membership of the Commonwealth, if it turns out that unionists couldn't care less about that, or worse, would bank that concession and then ask for more. So we are stuck with a binary choice for the foreseeable future - a united Ireland or the status quo. Unionists have no incentive to discuss options for a united Ireland which might only make soft unionists or the unaligned more likely to vote for it. They must retain the bogeyman of a Catholic nationalist takeover to maximise their own vote.

Of course, if there ever were a vote for a united Ireland under the Belfast Agreement, unionists would suddenly be all over it demanding cross-community support for any proposals and every concession they could think of to make it less likely the south would vote for reunification - including copious threats of widespread violence.

The rational response to all of this would be to insist that reunification will take place, if at all, on whatever basis is discussed and agreed prior to the Northern poll. If unionists insist on the Catholic takeover myth and lose, that is what they should get - a unitary Irish state. If they negotiate and agree some kind of federal arrangement prior to the vote, that should be honoured.

But as usual unionists may try to have it both ways: claim that it's all about a Catholic nationalist takeover, and then demand the right of veto over any post-unification legislative proposals - much like their current position on the Protocol, which, despite their demands for a unionist veto, provides only for a majority Assembly vote on its continuance.

The Belfast Agreement places no restrictions on what a united Ireland could entail, and neither should we, unless by agreement with unionist parties prior to the vote. - Is mise,

Display:
Given current polling in Ireland (FFG coalition in steep decline), it seems likely that a Sinn Fein government will be, within a few years, thrown the hot potato of reunification.

That will probably delay any short-term prospects of action, but ought to concentrate a few minds, at least.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Dec 27th, 2021 at 03:32:37 PM EST
For a perceptive article, from a unionist perspective, on how the rise of Sinn Fein is effecting unionists, see here.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 27th, 2021 at 08:40:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Question, if somebody from Ireland meets somebody from Northern Ireland in a neutral setting, can they distinguish where they are from? Are the accents noticeably different, for example? Or is it entirely political and/or religious, and thus probably not noticeable a generation down the line?
by asdf on Mon Dec 27th, 2021 at 10:19:50 PM EST
The northern accent is pretty distinctive, but my ear for accents isn't good enough to detect the difference between a Donegal (in the Republic) or a Derry (in the UK) accent. Those who are good at this sort of thing claim to be able to identify a different accent for each of Ireland's 32 counties (see below).



Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 31st, 2021 at 09:22:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A few years ago, on holiday in Croatia, we encountered a group of retired Irish tourists and started chatting. One of our group, a friend of my daughter's, is a Belfast Catholic, and one of them enquired whether she was "not from the 26 counties"... so that would be a yes.
She doesn't have a distinctive NI accent to my ear, but there you are.
She was travelling on an Irish passport, and studying medecine in Edinburgh. Happy to accept the best of both worlds.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Jan 10th, 2022 at 01:42:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some people are incredibly good at picking up the nuances of minor differences in speech between different localities. It could just be a word or turn of phrase not commonly used elsewhere. Of course the next question might be, "where do you come from", "What is your surname?" or what school did you go to?" and the persons religious, national, and class identity will have been established with a high degree of probability. Even clothing and mannerisms can give a clue.

I have long confused people with my Germanic surname, nondescript accent identifiable as Irish but not clearly regionally specific, protestant background and nationalist (but mainly European) sympathies. Throw in a tendency to analyse situations without declaring a sympathy and people are rightly confused.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 10th, 2022 at 06:50:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Such a constitutional referendum can only be called after the north has voted for unification, and its precise form will be determined by the debate that has taken place in Northern Ireland prior to their vote.
"Determined" suggests this will be the only thing to determine it, but that would mean the Southern polity would be putting it's own constitutional order at the mercy of a plurality of Northern voters. Southern citizens should have the right and would have the opportunity to debate the terms of the constitutional amendment to be put to a vote. I don't think it's sensible to expect that it wouldn't happen.

What you are trying to avoid is a Brexit-like outcome but that is exactly what I would expect to happen: a border poll in the North on the broad principle of reunification, much like the Brexit vote, followed by tripartite negotiations involving vigorous public debate of the terms on both the North and the South, with no small amount of interference from the UK.

I don't know what the constitutional process would be in the Norrh, but I would expect the final agreement would need to be ratified by a vote of the Stormont assembly. The final agreement cannot be the subject of the original border poll.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 28th, 2021 at 04:46:25 AM EST
The Constitution Unit in the Department of Political Science the UCL School of Public Policy have done a lot of work on what needs to happen before any referenda are held. Their Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland" have produced an impressive report which discusses many of the options and complications which are likely to arise.

My submission to the working group was published on ET here. In it I argue that a binary vote between a known status quo and a largely unknown future "united Ireland" will always favour the former because of a natural tendency of most voters to prefer "the devil they know" to some unknown future which will be presented by nationalists as a Nirvana and by unionists as the road to hell. I thus argue that any referendum should be preceded by detailed negotiations on how sovereignty would be transferred, what governance arrangements would apply in the current N. Ireland, and what would be the practical outcomes for citizens in terms of their jobs, pensions, health and social welfare entitlements, taxation, and civil liberties and human rights.

The referendum in N. Ireland would therefore be between two clearly articulated propositions - a continuance of the union with Britain - possibly including reference to the how the Barnett formula allocating central resources to N. Ireland might be tweaked - and a clearly articulated constitutional structure for a united Ireland.

Only the Government of Ireland can call a referendum in Ireland and does so on the basis of a clearly explained proposal often accompanied by drafts of the legislation required to enact the details contained therein. You are correct that the shape of any proposal put to the Irish people in a referendum vote will not be entirely determined by the debate in N. Ireland, unless that debate has concluded in a formal agreement between interested parties - chiefly the N. Ireland parties and the British and Irish governments - on what a united Ireland would look like.

That would, however, require the formal engagement of unionist parties in that process which is unlikely to happen, as they might view it as increasing the likelihood of a referendum being passed in the North.   However I could see the Alliance party engaging in that process and coming to an agreement which protects the internal political structures of Northern Ireland, at least for a lengthy transition period as part of an overall Federal Structure. The Alliance Party is a non-sectarian moderate unionist party, and probably represents the swing vote in any referendum campaign.

Voters, both north and south, would therefore end up voting on precisely the same proposals with the Irish government having represented the "southern interest" in any preceding talks. Unlike the Brexit referendum, there would be no prior vote on the principle of a united Ireland with the details to be worked out later. That didn't work out to well for the UK, and we won't want to go down that road.

The Good Friday Agreement is silent on all of this. In theory the Secretary of state for N. Ireland could wake up one day and decide to call a poll in the north without any prior work articulating what either option would mean in practice. But there is no obligation on the Irish Government - much less the Irish people - to go along with this. Everyone will want to know what they are buying into, and that can only be sorted out by negotiations between all the interested parties.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 28th, 2021 at 12:44:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
United Ireland - give and take

A chara, - I agree with much of what Frank Schnittger writes (Letters, December 27th) when he reminds us that a united Ireland will require winning referendums both North and South.

In the 35 years that I have been involved in politics at various levels, the single most important objective that has driven me has been the achievement of Irish reunification. I believe it is logical, desirable and inevitable within my lifetime, and now is quite rightly the time for debate and discussion to begin.

However, if the proposition being put to me involves my acquiescence in the dilution of the fundamental nature of the Irish state, or one that requires my country to become more British, I will vote No.

I love Ireland, I love being Irish, and I love (almost) everything about this land. I don't want to become more like France, or Spain, or Britain, or America.

I love my flag, I love my national anthem, and I certainly don't want to rejoin an anachronistic institution with a foreign hereditary monarch as its head.

Post-reunification, there can be no question of unionists being treated in the manner that Northern unionists treated non-Protestants and Southern nationalists treated non-Catholics for most of their jurisdictions' existence. That era is over, and good riddance.

However, I don't believe for a second that any self-respecting unionist will abandon their principles for any of the token gestures being dangled so patronisingly in front of them, and to continue this charade is an insult to their intelligence and passionately held beliefs.

Ireland is consistently rated as one of the best countries in the world to live in. It's time we started to believe in ourselves.

The only deal on the table can be for the people of all religions and none who share this island to join in a modern, pluralist, welcoming and diverse republic.

When sufficient numbers North and South accept that proposal, it will come about. Until then, I'm prepared to wait. - Is mise,

DAVID CARROLL,

Dublin 2.

And no, I don't know David Carroll personally!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 29th, 2021 at 12:26:14 AM EST
I have never sent a letter to the editor of the hardline unionist Belfast Newsletter before, but decided to give it a try this time around. I slightly re-drafted, reframed, and extended it to 800 words for a Northern readership and never expected it too be published.  But here it is, published in full:

If unionists want to influence whatever shape a united Ireland might take, they need to get an agreement on it prior to any vote

A letter from Frank Schnittger:
A united Ireland is not only dependent on a majority in the north voting for it in a poll: it also requires a majority in the south to vote for it in a constitutional referendum to amend the Irish constitution

The commentator Fintan O'Toole in The Irish Times writes that many people are living under the delusion that a united Ireland wouldn't require considerable compromises on the part of voters in the south if it were to become a reality (`Believers in a united Ireland without trade-offs are as bad as Brexiteers,' Irish Times, Opinion & Analysis, December 18).

However, he omits one crucial detail in his discussion. A united Ireland is not only dependent on a majority in the north voting for it in a poll called at the whim of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: it also requires a majority in the south to vote for it in a constitutional referendum to amend the Irish Constitution to accommodate the north and its various communities.

Not only are the terms of that constitutional amendment as yet unclear, but a vote in favour is dependent on a majority in the south being broadly supportive of the details contained therein. Unlike the UK, Ireland does not vote on broad principles like Brexit, referendums instead insert very precise legal changes into the constitution, the implications of which have been spelled out in advance by an independent referendum commission.

Such a constitutional referendum can only be called after the north has voted for unification, and its precise form will be determined by the debate that has taken place in Northern Ireland prior to their vote. People in the south may well decide that the costs of reunification, the risks of violence, and the compromises contained in any re-unification proposal are simply not worth it.

If, as I suspect, an ultra-English nationalist UK government in economic difficulties decides one day to off-load the costs and bother of Northern Ireland on to Ireland, Ireland is under no obligation to accept them. I suspect some very detailed negotiations between the two governments would have to take place first, setting out how the costs and risks of the transition of sovereignty are to be borne.

No doubt the UK government would take the views of unionists and loyalists into account. However, an Irish government which doesn't take into account the views of Irish voters risks losing the referendum. There is no obligation on Irish voters to accept compromises they don't like.

Indeed, so long as there isn't a discussion with active unionist participation, any speculation on the exact form of reunification is so much hot air. Why would Ireland concede (say) on membership of the Commonwealth, if it turns out that unionists couldn't care less about that, or worse, would bank that concession and then ask for more.

So we are stuck with a binary choice for the foreseeable future -- a united Ireland or the status quo. Unionists have no incentive to discuss options for a united Ireland which might only make soft unionists or the unaligned more likely to vote for it. They must retain the bogeyman of a Catholic nationalist takeover to maximise their own vote.

Of course, if there ever were a vote for a united Ireland under the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement) unionists would suddenly be all over it demanding cross community support for any proposals, and every concession they could think of to make it less likely the south would vote for re-unification -- including copious threats of widespread violence.

The rational response to all of this would be to insist that re-unification will take place, if at all, on whatever basis is discussed and agreed prior to the Northern poll. If unionists insist on the Catholic takeover myth and lose, that is what they should get -- a unitary Irish state. If they negotiate and agree to some kind of federal arrangement prior to the vote, that should be honoured.

But as usual unionists may try to have it both ways: claim that it's all about a Catholic nationalist takeover, and then demand the right of veto over any post-unification legislative proposals -- much like their current position on the Protocol, which, despite the demands for a unionist veto, provides only for a majority Assembly vote on its continuance.

The Belfast (GFA) places no restrictions on what a united Ireland would look like, and neither should Ireland, unless by agreement with unionist parties prior to the vote. The principles of parity of esteem are already established in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which has binding force within the Irish Constitution.

So if unionists want to influence whatever shape a united Ireland might take, they had better secure an agreement on that prior to any vote. There is no point complaining about a Catholic nationalist takeover if that is the basis you campaigned on and lost. Democracy can be hard.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 31st, 2021 at 11:40:27 AM EST
The Belfast editor willing to take a risk by publishing your letter with sole benefit to attract new readers?

"Please subscribe to our newsletter for unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news ..."

by Oui on Fri Dec 31st, 2021 at 12:28:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect my letter will attract quite a bit of response, and every editor is happy with controversy that increases readership and attention.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 31st, 2021 at 12:42:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was searching for response... as these would be most interesting ... does one need a subscription?
by Oui on Fri Dec 31st, 2021 at 01:23:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Won't happen for a few days. I think there is a small number of free articles before you need a subscription. I don't have one atm.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 31st, 2021 at 01:30:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry for being a dumb American, but what in this letter might be read as controversial by a unionist?
by asdf on Fri Dec 31st, 2021 at 04:50:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hardline unionists regard any discussion of a united Ireland as "parlaying with the enemy" on his terms. "Ulster says NO!" is the stock response to any discussion, however nuanced.

The hint in my letter that a southern referendum vote for unity is not a done deal will be welcomed by some, and some may perhaps take that as a point of departure for their response, but any suggestion England might abandon them is to be shunned. It would be like admitting God isn't a Protestant...

Hence the desperate clinging onto Boris Johnson despite all the evidence he will betray them any moment it suits his agenda.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 31st, 2021 at 05:36:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since trying to be more English than the English has recently backfired, will the new unionist strategy be to incessantly poison the unification well? How would nationalists circumvent this? Is it enough now that the de-facto economic union is happening?

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Fri Dec 31st, 2021 at 07:03:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unionists have been poisoning the re-unification well since the founding of N. Ireland in 1921-2.  What has changed in recent times is a demographic shift to an emergent Roman Catholic majority (close to but not quite the same as the nationalist vote) and the rise of English and Scottish nationalism.

Hence the suggestion in my letter that the defining moment in a move to a united Ireland could be a decision by an ultra-English government in economic difficulty to try and cut the current €12 Billion p.a. subvention to N. Ireland from central exchequer funds, or better still, to transfer that burden onto Ireland.

It will take time for any de-facto economic union to play out. After all N. Ireland had full access t the Irish ad EU markets when it was an EU member. What has changed is that British firms have lost that full access, and some may choose to relocate part of their operations to N. Ireland to retain their market share in the EU.

Again, I would expect that to be a long-term, incremental trend, and I wouldn't underestimate the ability of unionist parties to ignore the economic interests of their members even as they became increasingly tied to EU market access. It could be a bit like the end of Apartheid in South Africa, which ended when Afrikaner capital realised it couldn't grow without access to world markets.


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 31st, 2021 at 11:55:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't count on the Tories to dump NI like that. A few iterations later they will maybe quite like to keep their 'EU beachhead'.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Sat Jan 1st, 2022 at 07:03:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unionists need to have a conversation, but not about unity  Sarah Creighton
by Oui on Sat Jan 1st, 2022 at 12:30:50 AM EST
Another scenario I haven't fleshed out is that, following agreement between the Irish government and some N. Ireland parties to a federal post re-unification governance structure retaining the N. Ireland Assembly and Executive at least for a lengthy transition period, N. Ireland actually votes for re-unification. Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, that requires just a simple 50%+1 vote.

However in order assuage unionist fears and reduce the risk of violence, the Irish government also agrees other concessions, e.g. Ireland becomes a member of the Commonwealth, changes its flag and anthem, and guarantees a minimum level of subvention to the N. I. Executive which results in an increased tax burden in the south.

A recent opinion poll in the south revealed these to be unpopular concessions, although there was majority support for unionist participation in the Dublin government and increased British Irish links. But what happens if the south rejects re-unification on this basis? N. Ireland could be left in limbo wanted by neither Ireland or Britain on the terms available.

There is some support for an independent N. Ireland as a Plan B scenario, mainly among unionists determined to avoid a united Ireland at all costs. It is difficult to see N. Ireland surviving without subvention from somewhere however. €12 Billion P.a. for less than 2 Million people is over  €6,000 p.a.for every man, woman, and child. The entire health service budget for N. Ireland is c. €7 Billion, to put the scale of the subvention into perspective.

Unionists might then have to go cap in hand to someone, anyone, to bail them out. Not a very strong bargaining position especially as N. Ireland has only been guaranteed EU membership as part of a united Ireland. That scenario might concentrate a few minds in due course, but as usual, unionists tend not to think more than one step ahead, and even that very badly. They have poisoned the well with just about everybody, and any outbreaks of loyalist violence will only make matters worse.

It would of course be a huge burden for Ireland to take on as well, but Ireland doesn't support a large armed forces with nuclear deterrent, NATO, and all the accoutrements of post imperial Britain. Long term, there is no reason why N. Ireland couldn't become as successful and self-sustaining as the south, if under similar governance.

The real question is how the northern deficit will be funded in the interim, and without a transitionary agreement with Britain, some funding from the EU, and a  lot of economic growth in the interim, it is difficult to see how that could work. Even Germany struggled with the costs of German re-unification for many years. Answers on a post card, please.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jan 1st, 2022 at 12:32:10 AM EST
In any arranged marriage someone has to be paid off. Germany spent a lot on the dowry - with the hundreds of billions to the Soviets being the smallest part overall. Would for example Ireland want to relinquish its status as a corporate tax haven a bit to finance reunification? Hmm. There are some faint parallels to Korea as well. NI isn't such a basket case as North Korea, but over a number of decades the reunification debate in South Korea has turned from the conservative "Northern collapse (+war) = Reunification now!" to gradualism to the current state where for most younger people it's not a priority at all. Among other things because of the financial burden. "We have it bad enough why do we have to take on that weird place up North? We are separate countries. Deal with it!"

Much more than the South Koreans, the ROI can afford to be less compromising. Commonwealth? Come on! If they want dual citizenship then maybe there should be double state financing. Time, economics, demographics is playing in their favor - NI may fall into their hands like a ripe apple. Furthermore, if the border is open, peace is maintained, economic ties are ever closer, then why even bother? We may see the day where even Sinn Fein doesn't make reunification (at all cost) a priority anymore. Assuming they will be in charge for a longer period.

(As an aside, my own idea for a North Korea 'policy' involves the South getting its own nuclear(-equivalent) strategic deterrent and then sitting down for peace talks where both sides recognize each other as legitimate Korean states and change their constitutions accordingly. And then the door is open for eventual reunification if someday both sides find it in their interest. Perhaps that's the lesson of Germany: no proper reunification without proper separation.)



Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sat Jan 1st, 2022 at 07:00:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the West Germans actually got to vote on reunification, with all the costs involved, and Saxony was already full of AfD Querdenker, would they have voted for it?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Jan 1st, 2022 at 07:04:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's say the majority wouldn't have been overwhelming.

Vagueness helps to propel things along. It's a political catalyst. The hump you have to get over is smaller. Brexit, reunifications, etc. Buy now pay later. Which is why I wouldn't want to be too specific if I were a nationalist gunning for a border poll.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sat Jan 1st, 2022 at 07:13:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whille I have no doubt North Ireland is poorer then England or Ireland, given its political roots as a colony I would be surprised if the colonial overlords doesn't extract tribute in a number of less obvious ways.

If I remember correctly form Late Victorian Holocausts, India was on paper an economic basket case during the colonial era. The real wealth was extracted trough economic regulations that made sure englishmen and English companies made bank, and very little stayed in India.

So short term, North Ireland probably needs those €12 Billion P.a. to clear the budget, but even in the middle term this might shift if less money is then extracted to England (or any of its many banking islands), but stays in the community and can be taxed. And in the longer term, well the republic seems to being much better now then under English rule.

by fjallstrom on Mon Jan 3rd, 2022 at 12:57:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The main differences between Ireland north and south are:
  1. the south doesn't support a large nuclear military industrial complex or NATO levels of military spending.
  2. The UK is basically about financial services in London having largely deindustrialised everywhere else
  3. The UK doesn't have an effective industrial or regional development policy
  4. The north's linen, ship, aircraft and bus building industries have largely declined
  5. The south has pursued economic policies in line with is own interests attracting most of the world's leading ICT and Pharma multi-nationals to build their EU headquarters here and providing good jobs, training and tax revenues.
  6. The Troubles made the north a very unattractive place for investment, and continuing community tensions and political instability have meant there hasn't been much of a peace dividend since.
  7. The north has suffered a continuing "brain drain" where the brightest go to university in Britain or Ireland and don't return.
  8. At one level, the north can be seen as an oversized sink estate where all tensions are refracted onto a sectarian plane, when they should have been with a London centric government.


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2022 at 01:46:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
India was one of the worlds richest countries pre-colonisation and one of the poorest afterwards. It has since recovered substantially, a fact which seems to have escaped empire nostalgics.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2022 at 01:50:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Sat Jan 1st, 2022 at 07:51:47 PM EST
Have they dropped English?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Jan 1st, 2022 at 07:54:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No. It's still an official language in EU member states Ireland and Malta.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 2nd, 2022 at 11:55:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The real question is, will Chinese replace English as the lingua franca?
by asdf on Mon Jan 3rd, 2022 at 04:49:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
當然會
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2022 at 05:01:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, because the population of China is set to decline precipitously in the next few decades and China will be replaced by India as the world's most populous country.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2022 at 05:59:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not like there were ever that many Brits either.
by generic on Tue Jan 4th, 2022 at 12:23:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They had military rather than economic superiority, and paid the natives to do the fighting for them. About 200,000 Irish fought for the British empire in WWI and, despite official neutrality, about 70,000 in WWII. But don't tell Churchill:  He harboured great hostility towards Ireland for its official policy of neutrality (despite unofficial and clandestine support for British side).

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 4th, 2022 at 04:41:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But don't tell Churchill:

Didn't a lot of Indians ("A beastly people with a beastly religion") also fight in WWII?

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jan 4th, 2022 at 04:53:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There were 2.5 Million Indian troops fighting on the Allied side, and 4,500 on the German side. But it was Great Britain which won the war!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 4th, 2022 at 04:56:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the chaos of war, conscription failed for Ireland, split Redmond's Irish Volunteers, rise of National Volunteers, Irish Republican Brotherhood, Easter Uprising, and the Belfast Pogrom of 1920.
by Oui on Tue Jan 4th, 2022 at 08:44:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Irish News, a N. Ireland nationalist newspaper has also published an edited version of my letter here.

It must be a very rare occasion that both the nationalist Irish news and hardline unionist Belfast Newsletter publish almost identical versions of the same letter. I look forward to contrasting responses...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2022 at 03:33:58 AM EST
uh oh

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Jan 3rd, 2022 at 11:44:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Irish news has printed a response to my letter:

Letters Page

Irish reunification

In his letter about the circumstances of a united Ireland, Frank Schnittger fears that unionists might "demand the right of veto over any post-unification legislative proposals" (January 3).
A group of leading academics has already conceded this kind of formidable power to unionists during the border-poll process. The Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland, operating through University College London, published its final report in May 2021. With the aim of gaining unionist consent to Irish reunification, the working group proposes a comprehensive veto for the north over many key aspects of a united Ireland, including its constitutional form, principal political institutions, national symbols and major public policies. The working group's proposal violates the Good Friday Agreement and repudiates the democratic votes ratifying it.

MIKE BURKE
Ontario, Canada

I wouldn't characterize the report of Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland in quite those clear cut terms, but there is certainly a recognition that the result of a 50%+1 referendum cannot be an all or nothing affair, if the 49.9% are not going to be extremely disgruntled as a result. However, nationalists are entitled to ask "where was the concern for minority rights when N. Ireland was set up and governed in the first place?".

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 6th, 2022 at 03:20:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have drafted a response as follows:

In his response to my letter (January 3) about the process of Irish re-unification, MIKE BURKE (January 6)  cites the report of The Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland as proposing "a comprehensive veto for the north over many key aspects of a united Ireland, including its constitutional form, principal political institutions, national symbols and major public policies" and states that he working group's proposal violates the Good Friday Agreement and repudiates the democratic votes ratifying it.

I wouldn't characterize the report of Working Group (to which I made a submission) in quite those clear-cut terms, but there is certainly a recognition that the result of a 50%+1 referendum cannot be an all or nothing affair, if the 49.9% are not going to be extremely disgruntled as a result. However, nationalists are entitled to ask, "where was the concern for minority rights when N. Ireland was set up and governed in the first place, and what accommodations are unionists prepared to make to nationalists in the event of a narrow border poll vote in favour of a retention of the union with Britain?".

If unionists are not prepared to make significant concessions to nationalists in the event of a vote in favour of a retention of the existing union, they can expect few concessions if the result is a vote for a united Ireland.

In that eventuality, my suggestion is that the existing Good Friday Agreement governance institutions for Northern Ireland should be retained at least for a lengthy transition period, with N. Ireland Assembly members being appointed to the Irish Senate and empowered to pass or reject legislation insofar as it applies to N. Ireland. This should, of course, only apply to devolved matters currently within the purview of the Assembly. Matters currently decided in London should be transferred to Dublin with the transfer of Sovereignty in line with the Good Friday Agreement.

Direct rule from Dublin should only apply in the event of the Executive collapsing, as is the case with direct rule from London now. Northern Ireland's Westminster representation should be transferred to the Dail and increased in line with constituency population sizes in the south. The Good Friday Agreement makes no provision for a unionist or nationalist veto in the event of a transfer of sovereignty following a border poll, and it should remain a foundational document as part of our constitution, guaranteeing equality of esteem for all as part of the new dispensation in a united Ireland.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 6th, 2022 at 09:24:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Third letter down.
Vetoing nationalists

Baroness Hoey writes that "There are very justified concerns that many professional vocations have become dominated by those of a nationalist persuasion, and this positioning of activists is then used to exert influence on those in power", in a report on `Vetoing The Protocol' by Jamie Bryson.

It truly is `shocking' that an emergent Catholic majority should dominate student numbers and entry into professions previously dominated by unionists.

No doubt `Vetoing the Protocol' is all about putting a stop to that sort of thing.

They left out my second paragraph:
"The same concerns have been expressed about Jews and Blacks infiltrating the professions in other political contexts. "

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 11th, 2022 at 11:48:43 AM EST


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