This Union

 

 

 

 

 

Next Generation Series

A while back This Union asked for articles from younger writers, the next generation. Rather than have established(ment) political statements on repeat, we want to try to gauge a range of views from younger writers and commentators. Contributions have been stored ‘on file’ for a while, trying to find a gap in the endless Brexit headlines to break out onto a more fundamental track that will remain on the political agenda past Brexit (if Brexit ever ends….).

Next week, starting Monday 19th August, we will post a series of articles that provide individual perspectives on The Union.

The five articles offer personal perspectives and make different arguments, reflecting the individuals’ particular background and experience.

There is a case that instrumentality and identity driving mono-ethnic nationalism provides short-term political gain but at a longer-term diminution of economic potential and social cohesion. The greater case is an open an outward looking society offered within the Union. This is reinforced by the view that when all strands, instrumental, non-instrumental, citizenship, allegiance and affinities are integrated coherently case for the Union is strongest.

There is a case that wonders whether The Union and devolution of powers to regional institutions are compatible or desirable, which is a debate to be had if only around the range and nature of relative powers within a United, though disparate political, Kingdom, particularly post-Brexit.

While nationalism has the advantage of appealing to a moment that ‘ends’ and denotes a new beginning (a soaring dove of endless possibilities), whether an United Ireland or Independent Scotland, and is a challenge to the status quo. The case for The Union can sometimes seem dull by comparison; “keep calm, and carry on”. Perhaps this has been aided by a series of uninspiring technocratic central Westminster Governments – it will be interesting, past the hype, how a full energy Government lead by the current Prime Minister Johnston might reset that balance.

The case is presented that the need for deeply laid and long-run stamina to promote The Union. That might need a ‘project’ or ‘concept’ that our series of short essays are unable to address, but perhaps others will pick up on that theme and take on that challenge going forward.

We start on Monday with a short local Northern Ireland perspective to kick things off, the most personal of all the articles, a basic case for This Union.

Where we might be, or not. Who knows?

 

 

 

 

Brexit, of course.

Legacy – a series of essays

 

 

 

 

 

 

The News Letter has sent an email to registered readers providing a summary of its recent series of essays on the Legacy proposals currently the subject of “consultation”.

The premise in publishing the series has been simple: has been a scandal the way in which the whole weight of the British state has, at great expense to UK taxpayers, turned in on its own security forces who prevented civil war here in Northern Ireland (the introductory stories to the series list the current imbalance against security forces).

It is “Time to stop the terror legacy scandal” (August 20th). The series was backed with a strong Morning View editorial.

Inevitable, for 100 years

 

 

 

 

Since the foundation of Northern Ireland nationalism has seen the existence of the Province as temporary and therefore refuse to ‘accept’ partition. Partition, in nationalists’ eyes, was(is) means through which Britain maintained a presence in Ireland for its own ‘selfish and strategic interests’; and Unionists were (and still are) their ‘patsies’.

Legally speaking partition was to be temporary: this was the position of the London Government, quite possibly to avoid an argument. For Northern Ireland to be close to a century old, must therefore clearly depress nationalists. Instead of viewing Northern Ireland as a success, it is therefore essential to label it as a ‘failed’ entity based on historic grievance laid at the door of political Unionism.

To imagine that Northern Ireland would be still in existence nearly a century later, would would have been simply ‘unbelievable’ in 1920.

DITCH THE DOGMA – DO THE DEAL

 

 

 

 

 

In the imagination of remainers, the Tory European Research Group is a cadre of irreconcilable Brexit ultras, determined to wrench the UK from the EU in chaotic fashion. It’s ironic then, that the ERG’s latest paper is one of the calmest contributions to the Irish border debate, delivering low-key, rather technical solutions to practical problems raised by the frontier, rather than overheated rhetoric. 

Foundering on the Rocks of Reality

 

 

 

 

 

 

Republicans and nationalists call for a United Ireland, yet the thinking on what that might look like has to date seems crude, naïve, or non-existent. Irish mist-ical aspiration is preferred to the harsh realities of rational thinking. Philip Larkin asks some uncomfortable questions.

A crude reality

With increased discussion in social and political circles on the topic of the inevitability or otherwise of a united Ireland, the central object of this article is to examine what the true ramifications of creating a new state of Ireland will be, specifically from the viewpoints of northern nationalism and the population of the Republic of Ireland.

Gerry Adams twirling around the Northern Ireland public spending numbers

 

 

 

 

 

The former Sinn Fein leader, Mr Gerry Adams was recently arguing how Irish unity had become more an issue of “when” rather than “if”.

A critical plank of his argument was that Northern Ireland is not in fact as heavily subsidised by the UK Exchequer as many of us think: he believes the actual level of spending here is lower and as a result the gap or deficit between public monies spent and revenues raised by taxes in Northern Ireland is smaller than we are often told.

Amongst other things, if he is right, Irish unity could become more affordable. Mr Adams’s argument becomes something of a fiscal dance of the seven veils. With each sentence a few more billions come off!

Bold statements, bald facts

 

 

 

 

According to Brian Feeney: “Reality is that a century of partition has left the north much poorer than the south.” (£)

No one can deny Brian Feeney loves a sweeping statement: “Irish unity will be beneficial to all on the island” – everyone’s a winner  – he says, based supposedly on a report by Paul Gosling and Pat McArt. This may be the same as the report reviewed earlier on This Union, as the claims are as strange as ever. Or it could be from A New Union: A New Society – Ireland 2050 which does credit Pat McArt and appears on Gosling’s website in June, using the earlier report for economic points.

In fact, that The economic impact of an all-island economy published earlier this year assumed unity would be accompanied by quite a major reduction in public sector jobs and spending in Northern Ireland – despite the significant impact that could be expected on the NI economy from this cut, there was no accompanying indication on how the private sector might be able to compensate as local spending power diminishes, significantly. Besides…

‘Burn everything British, but their coal’

 

 

 

 

 

Of all the nationalist oppositions to Brexit, in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland or Scotland, perhaps also the trans-nationalist EU, Sinn Fein’s opposition is perhaps the most cynical.

Legacy. The Past in the Future.

 

 

 

 

 

A seminar held on Saturday 3 March in Belfast examined the coming legacy legislation that will govern Northern Ireland’s approach to the past. In an Editorial, the Belfast News Letter described it as “a rare event” principally because those attending and speaking gave scrutiny of legacy structures has was not overwhelmingly positive to the 2014 Stormont House proposals. The important point made as to what might follow this initiative was made:

“These vital voices have not received anything like the coverage they deserve on legacy, as aggressive pro-republican factions make the most noise. But London seems determined to implement Stormont House, so critics will have to engage fully with the consultation process.” 

A huge challenge lies ahead. As part of that process This Union hopes to be able to publish a number of the papers that were presented to the Seminar, or articles from the speakers based on what was said on the day. These are not uniform, and contain a range of views. No-one at the Seminar expected absolute unanimity. This was a place to explore and share thoughts on the issue.