Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ten years on

It's 10 years since the Belfast Agreement was signed. Remember those stiff speeches as each leader tried to apply his own spin? That day, apparently, the union was never safer, while the Brits were a step further towards going. Funny thing, compromise, but welcome all the same.
 
Reflecting on those days, Seamus Mallon offers an interesting perspective on the future too, in a piece by the BBC's Martina Purdy, daring to utter some thoughts I touched on a few posts ago. Martina writes, he suggested there may be federal or confederal arrangements in future. (Mallon verbatim: "I believe Britain will go, they will leave. I don't think that will result in a 32 county political arrangement."
 
Indeed, looking back twenty years from now, it may well be black-and-white politics which are confounded. Under 20th century Ulster logic, a British Northern Ireland or usurption into a 32-county republic were the only options. Still are for most people. And in a world of antithesis, such as prevailed until - arguably - the 1998 Belfast Agreement, such black-and-white views were logical and defensible. But all of Ireland has changed since then, and so have the UK and Europe too.
 
A third way? Gotta be. An independent Norn Iron or joint protectorate would be unworkable, but maybe a semi-detached Northern Ireland leading to a federal borderless Ireland would be a model worth exploring, but only only political hemp-smokers would suggest we're ready for that now.
 
Happy Easter to all.

14 Comments:

At 2:55 a.m., Anonymous bill said...

An autonomous province within the Republic might provide a good bridging device but ultimately unification will eventually take place. It may be a lengthy process.

 
At 7:32 a.m., Anonymous tony said...

Or a federalist union of sorts with Scotland. I know it won't happen, however such a scenario would smooth the transition in the six counties that so many Unionists seem loath to participate in.

 
At 6:35 p.m., Anonymous bill said...

Because of our links in both directions, a federation with Scotland would seem to make sense but given the Scot-ish tendency of late to treat us as some kind of offspring of theirs, not worthy of mention, and claiming anything of value that our people have achieved, I think, within that federation, we would get short shrift and soon disappear as a people. The cure might be worse than the disease.

 
At 9:57 a.m., Anonymous tony said...

Not quite sure what you mean there Bill.

Are you talking along the lines of the mis-designation of those who emigrated to North America, the Scots-Irish? Or a reference to Salmond and Paisley's friendship something in which you have spotted?

Glad you agree that Scotland and Ireland could forge stronger ties though.

 
At 6:08 p.m., Anonymous bill said...

Primarily the Scots-Irish thing. Alex Salmond is a very affable man and, I think, has much to offer Scotland. The good reverend is passing into history and can befriend whomever he wants. It has long been my view that some kind of pan-Celtic/Gaelic federation was a desireable thing. That could only happen if each component's identity and achievements were honoured and respected.

 
At 6:39 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

The people of the South have no reason to want any federation with Scotland. Don't forget things have turned out well in the South as an independent state. Taking on the 6 counties is natural but why do we need Scotland?

Of course we all think very highly of the Scots, and the Welsh, and the English in the Northern cities of England, but each country being independent is the best way forward for self identification and self respect. An Ireland/ Britain federation in time of war might be viable, as long as we aren't forced to follow the English if they start the war, as history shows was so often the case.

 
At 2:10 a.m., Anonymous bill said...

I picture a looser federation than the one you perhaps envision. My vision would have more to do with cultural and business interactions than actual governance. More like the old Commonwealth (throneless) than the E.U. We could work collectively on those things that were in our common interests for those who would so choose at any given time. Again, possibly a good bridge between the existing N.I. and future unification although MY Ulster has nine counties.

 
At 4:42 p.m., Anonymous tony said...

A kind of social union perhaps with close economic ties then Bill? Me I'd like a federal council of the isles. Anonymous, the Republic would not 'be taking on' Scotland. it would be a partnership of equals.

 
At 6:43 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scotland, even though they are highly capable people just like ourselves, have had the safety net of 50 million English people supporting them economically for a long, long time.

Once Scotland has learned how to be an independent country a mutually beneficial federation would be logical. But it already happens unofficially nowadays anyway because Ireland, the ROI, is basically as close to Britain as it can be outside of a political Union. So that would remain if the UK broke or when unification occurs here.

 
At 3:00 a.m., Anonymous bill said...

An enlarged community might include the Manx; Bretons; Basques; borderers; Welsh; Cornish; Devonish etc. at least culturally. It could make for a very interesting mosaic. It would certainly enlarge our somewhat parochial view of what we really represent. Whereas the Commonwealth had their "Britishness" and the Crown as a common thread, our common thread would be our Celtic/Gaelic background. (I hope b.u. doesn't mind us highjacking his blog for a conversation. Thank you b.u. for the forum).

 
At 11:54 p.m., Blogger B.U. said...

You know where this is leading, don't you? Add England and you'd have the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland MkII. Sorry, this Celtic confederacy business has no tangible benefit and is unwanted by the people. Any urges in that direction are well covered by the Council of the Isles or whatever it's called. In the real world of political government, a federal Ireland holds the most promise, but still requires something of a mood-shift among Ulster Protestants (9 counties).

BTW, use this blog for discussion, by all means, but don't use the phrase Scotch-Irish. The ony thing that's Scotch is, well, Scotch. It's Ulster-Scots. I thank you.

On a tangent, I've never bought into this Ulster-Scots malarky. One half of my genes come from that neck of the woods, but the rest of me - thankfully - is Fermanagh/Leitrim, distinctly non-Ulster-Scots. No offense of course. Or should that be "nae offinse lack".

 
At 8:14 a.m., Anonymous Tony said...

Wouldn't dream of mentioning Scotch as opposed to Scots BU. Of course we are off on a tangent, but all things begin with people discussing them. The English represent a a Cukkoo Britishness of the germanic variety, I shouldn't think their dominating presence would be wanted

Bill

Possibly a social/cultural expansion could eventually be on the cards in such places you mention. Although the Cornish have so lost their way as to not even recognise that many of their festivals are even 'Celtic' I cite the abby oss in Padstow I think. The Welsh are more loyal to the idea of an English dominated Britain than the English themselves strangely. Sadly colonial mindsets rule, education will change things. History lessons in the UK is almost exclusively English history, this must and has changed in Scotland anyway.

anonymous

I could be unkind to you here considering that you seem to be parroting myths about Scotland. I would recommend that you educate yourself somewhat before commenting about this subject. First of all, a small nation of five million primarily through her natural resources in the north sea, carried the UK whilst Thatcher was destroying all of our heavy industry during the 70's and much of the 80's. Even now Scotland after London brings in the biggest income and we are not subsidised at all(London figures heavily inflated by being centre of many companies etc, all payrolls recorded there). Just because we are taking in more per person does not mean that WE as a nation are subsidised. Let us have control of our own money, problem solved!

What do you mean by "Learn to be an independent country?" Are you suggesting that a country that has produced so many innovations and great men/women. A country whose sons now currently run UK inc. would somehow need to learn how to run our country. Naivety or jest?

 
At 9:29 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

"a federal Ireland holds the most promise"

yeah, for nationalists.

Unionists are not interested in any form of all-island state be that a full blown anschluss or something less than a unitary Irish Republic. Now can we get back to the real world and decide how this part of the UK is run for the benefit of those who live here? Or do we need a lesson in consent for slow learners?

 
At 11:22 p.m., Anonymous bill said...

I'm so glad to hear a Unionist talk about consent. I does my heart good. Hold on to your hat because "consent", as a majority concept, is about to pull the rug from under Unionism very shortly. Soon, in the real world. Britain, (read England), doesn't have a use for Northern Ireland now and wants rid of it, including those troublesome Unionists. The word scupper comes to mind. I remember all those British "citizens" trying to flee Idi Amin in Uganda who found out their British passports were useless. "Britain" wouldn't honour them. Again, the word scupper comes to mind. WE, (yes, WE), should have been brokering a deal to protect OUR interests long, long ago instead of being distracted by our "Britishness". Ian Paisley got what he wanted out of it and now he will be out of it. The word scupper comes to mind or put differently, "bugger you Jack, I'm inboard".

 

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