Thursday, September 08, 2005


Thursday Thoughts: Treason?

I came across this letter in the News Letter from 'BE' in Belfast and I felt compelled to answer some of the points mentioned as I think it raises some important points for those like myself who want to see a United Ireland. Permit me to answer some of the points raised...

"Irish nationalists seem to think that they have some kind of legitimate and divine right to demand and achieve a so-called united Ireland. However, they do not have such a right."

We may not have a 'divine' right, but we have a legitimate right to demand a United Ireland, in the same way unionists have a legitimate right to oppose the idea.

"A united Ireland is in fact and reality the annexation of Northern Ireland into an all-Ireland Irish republic."

This is an important point raised. I don't agree with this. Many people, both unionists and nationalists, seem to think of a United Ireland as the Republic simply swallowing up the North. We've heard some unionists say '6 into 26 won't go'. The reality is however, a United Ireland means the end of 'Northern Ireland' and the end of the 'Republic of Ireland' and the establishment of an entirely new State - Ireland.

"Moreover, Northern Ireland's annexation into an all-Ireland Irish republic would be a blatant act of ethnic cleansing perpetrated on the British people of Northern Ireland, because it would involve the removal of British citizens from their own country into another country."

No, it wouldn't be ethnic cleansing nor would it involve 'the removal of British citizens from their own country into another country'. These British citizens would live on the same road as they always have and go to the same schools and jobs that they always have. There would be no 'ethnic cleansing'. The right of Britishness to exist in Ireland would have to be guaranteed without question. That is why I favour the Republic rejoining the Commonwealth - to prove that we acknowledge and respect the Britishness that exists on the island.

"Ireland is an integral part of the British Isles and as such is part of the territory of all the inhabitants of the British Isles and is not the sole and exclusive territory of the inhabitants of Ireland alone"

The author of this letter doesn't see the irony in this statement. Earlier he/she attacked nationalists for seeking to 'annex' the North, yet here the author has effectively annexed the people of the Republic. To say ' part of the territory of all the inhabitants of the British Isles' is both inaccurate and unhelpful and part of the reason why I dislike the term 'British Isles' and why I would favour the term 'IONA' - Islands Of the North Atlantic. The future of this island will be determined by the people on this island which is what the Good Friday Agreement has ensured.

"The setting up of a breakaway separatist republic of Ireland was in fact an act of high treason to which the British government of the time turned a blind eye.

"It still seems to be turning a blind eye to the threatened act of high treason contained in the persistent demand from Irish nationalists for a united Ireland."

To use the logic of the great Sir William Wallace, how is it an act of treason to want a United Ireland when nationalists do not acknowledge the right of the British to determine Ireland's future? Surely the only treason for nationalists would be to abandon the aim of a United Ireland? Besides, it's a non-issue now. As mentioned, the GFA means that the people of the island alone will determine the future of the island which makes sense.

"Some would try to argue that the issue could be settled by some kind of head count in the form of a referendum. However, this would still involve the process of ethnic cleansing."

I don't understand this point unless the author feels that a United Ireland would lead to unionists being intimidated or killed. I don't see this happening. Yes, unionists suffered terribly in the Irish Free State in what became one of the State's dirty little secrets but Ireland is radically different now and has become multi-cultural. As well as that, the right of Britishness in Ireland will have to be respected before unity can come about, so I don't see a problem as happened in the twenties with the Free State.

"Would any British government dare hold a referendum to, for example, decide if all Muslims or all coloured people should be expelled from the UK? Why then, should a referendum be held to determine if British citizens living in Northern Ireland should be expelled from the United Kingdom?"

The analogy here used by the author is deeply flawed. No one will be expelled from Ireland if the Irish people North and South vote for unity. To suggest that would be the case is scaremongering of the worst kind. A referendum on Irish unity would be about determining whether or not the people of this island would be governed by a single government or not, not about 'expelling' people.

Overall, I think this letter is a good example of the mindset of many a unionist - fearful. And who can blame them? Perhaps I'd be fearful too if I grew up in a society where I was in danger on a daily basis.

The key thing for Irish nationalism is not to dismiss people like the author of this letter. The onus is on Irish nationalism to prove that it has evolved to a point where it can acknowledge and appreciate views such as these but to find a way to accomodate these views in a new united Irish State.

This all-Ireland State must respect people like the author of this letter. It must respect Britishness. It must offer as little change and disruption as possible. People must go to the same schools, workplaces, parks, pubs etc as they always have.

It's time to pave the way for this all-Ireland State by working towards removing all remnants of anti-Britishness from Ireland. Britishness exists. Deal with it. If you want the border gone, you must. For it too exists. It is a constant reminder of the failure of people on this island to move on.

Removing the border shouldn't be some great struggle, some mighty effort...instead it should come off smoothly, as simple as a woman removing her scarf.

It's time to move on from archaic notions of territory and treason and do what's required - evolve.


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