Britain loves to portray itself as ‘honest broker' in conflict here
Alex Kane is a kindly soul. He is not a bit perturbed about Leo Varadkar’s sentiments on a united Ireland. However, he has a couple of stipulations that he feels are important. He would like the reunification of Ireland to come by consent. He would like to see the reunification of Ireland command a degree of cross-community support.
Unfortunately he doesn’t say by the consent of whom or which communities he would like a degree of support from.
Does Alex understand and accept that when we use the terminology of reunification we agree that Ireland used to have 32 counties before partition, therefore the 26 other counties would obviously have a say in reunification as they have a lot of work to do and changes to make before accepting the partitioned six back into the fold.
Sadly, with partition there were none of the niceties of consent around at the time or indeed degrees of cross-community support.
Quite the contrary, the indigenous were hunted off their land, their birthright stolen from them, demeaned, disenfranchised, forced into poverty by an invading army and its hangers on who were waiting for payment made with land that was newly stolen.
Thereby were sown the seeds of sectarian hatred and the beginnings of a terrible conflict that would rip the six counties apart many generations later.
England, the British, they love to portray themselves as the ‘honest broker’ in the conflict here which, remember, is still very active in people’s minds.
The immense difficulties that we are going to face in the future are solidly of Britain’s making through their Plantation exploits beginning in 1609.
As with all other British colonial forays into different countries the British brought along the fiercely strongly held belief that they were the epitome of civilisation and therefore always in every way superior to the indigenous. These traits exist among many of the unionist community in today 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement.
We now have a community who, largely, did not want to integrate with the indigenous, would only work with them as their bosses, who wished for separate schools and houses of worship. Yes, all the evidence that they felt they were a better people.
In this little contrived sectarian statelet they formed a government, which put together reams of sectarian legislation aimed at bolstering their own power base as well as ensuring daily suffering among disenfranchised nationalist..
The avowed mentor and tutor, Great Britain, watched on impassively while the clock ticked down until 1968-69, then it all blew up in their faces.
The discrimination, the gerrymandering, the lack of housing for nationalists, the second-class citizenship. The fuse was lit.
Power-sharing post 1998 an unmitigated disaster
There is a fallacy being propagated by politicians like Colum Eastwood that the resurrection of the Stormont assembly is the panacea that will solve the health crisis here and other pressing social issues. The reality is that when the Stormont institutions were up and running that none of the parties were able to deal with the health crisis but more than that, since 1998 Stormont must be regarded as one of the most ineffective legislatures anywhere. Why would anyone in their right mind want a resumption of it?
It is clear that unionism wants only to share power if it can maintain supremacy over nationalism. It is endeavouring to make sure that should Sinn Féin re-engage in a power-sharing arrangement that it will never again be able to bring the institutions down. Therefore, if nationalism is being treated subserviently to unionism, as it has been, that nationalism cannot neutralise that position. And the free state government thinks that is not unreasonable!
Part of the problem with politics here is that people who have a badge placed on them are elected regardless of any qualifications to hold the position they are elected to. A recent example of that is the placing of a Kingsmill loaf on the head of a Sinn Féin MP on the anniversary of the Kingsmill killings. Could such a crass insult to the memory of those killed at that time be more oppositional to the stated aims of the party he represents? Looking back to some of his contributions to the party, his comedy seems to be what has often endeared him but hardly provides any solutions to difficult issues.
Let’s be serious, power-sharing post 1998 has been an unmitigated disaster. Attempts to revive it would only result in further poor government to the people living in the six counties. It is time to think of more realistic solutions, especially as a result of Brexit. The only solution is to focus on an all-Ireland solution.
Reunification is obvious answer
Many words have been written and spoken about the decision of Britain to leave the EU. Many people have been scathing of any suggestion that maybe we should draw back from a bad decision. They say the majority have spoken and their decision must be upheld.
A big factor of course is the Irish border, as to whether it should be, land, soft, invisible etc. I wonder how many of the electorate know that in 1918 a General Election in British ruled Ireland returned a large nationalist majority who had in effect voted to leave that union, but their vote was ignored by both the British government of the day and the unionists.
Democracy was turned on its head and partition was forced on the majority under threat of immediate and terrible war.
This decision had an awful effect on the Irish economy which in effect severed the mainly industrial north from the agricultural south.
This led to mass emigration and poverty and the effects have ruled down the years to the present day.
The obvious answer is reunification so that all those who live here by choice will start putting Ireland first, by working together as equals and rejecting foreign rule.
There will be a nationalist majority in a few short years who could vote the border out of existence.
That is why it’s surprising that the unionist leadership still haven’t learned that using the carrot rather than the stick on nationalists would make sense. Arlene should say, how soon do want an Irish language act; and Gregory should stop sneering and insulting the nationalist people of this part of Ireland. But I know they won’t, because it’s not in their DNA. They think they have a right to ride roughshod over us. They don’t.
Dungiven, Co Derry
Winds of change are blowing
Mr Burgess reflects – ‘Taoiseach is tilting at windmills’ (January 3) – on Leo Varadkar’s thoughts on the future shape of Ireland which he describes as “fruitless” and shows a “sterility of mind”. This writer spent two (whole) minutes reflecting on the taoiseach’s careful comments before concluding that he would have to wait “two years to get a hospital operation” and have to have his “children baptised in order to get them into school”. This is cockamamy stuff; brainstorm stuff. Is Mr Burgess not aware that we here is the six counties are on the receiving end of the NHS crisis; that those waiting for hip operations are being told there is a two-year waiting list? Is he not aware that multiculturalism is alive and well in Ireland?
Strikes me that one sees an unfortunate reversal to unionist ‘form’ pandering half-truths while facing the realities is out of the question.
I put it to Mr Burgess that at a visceral level unionists cannot countenance a republican or even a ‘constitutional’ (whatever that means) nationalist argument. While not overtly talking about ‘Rome rule’ the canards are peddled out.
I say this to Mr Burgess, the winds of change are blowing big time. Getting into an increasingly thin comfort blanket of ridicule and jibe is not a good idea. Wake up and smell the coffee.