Tuesday, March 06, 2007


The Union is far from "safe"

I enjoyed last night's edition of Questions and Answers on RTE. Usually I find myself bored with the show what with the constant talk of issues like health, education, crime, finance etc. but since last night's show was an election special for the North, I knew there was no chance issues like that would be discussed.

It was the usual fare really. "Why are you doing this?" versus "Well, why aren't you doing that?"

I thought the UUP's Danny Kennedy (pictured left) did well and he got in some funny shots at the DUP's Arlene Foster which are worth checking out. You can watch the show online here.

I like Danny Kennedy despite the fact he never got back to me with questions I put to him for an interview, even though he said he would. Though to be fair to him there's a hell of a lot of unionists in the same boat. Including believe it or not - Arlene Foster! Ah tis a funny world. Actually come to think of it, the Alliance party's David Ford agreed to get back to me too (which he didn't) and, yes, he was on the panel last night too. In fact, ignoring my views is probably the one thing these guys all have in common! Ah I crack myself up sometimes I really do. But I digress...

What I found most amusing from the show was the following comment from Danny Kennedy. Now this probably isn't word for word what Kennedy said since I'm basing it on memory but those who watched the show know this was the basic gist of it. Responding to a barb by Martin McGuinness towards Mark Durkan that the SDLP are a "partitionist party" Kennedy said...

"I'll help out Mark on this one because both the SDLP and Sinn Féin are partitionist parties as they have both signed up to the institutions. The Union is safe."

I was a bit surprised that his comment wasn't met with mocking laughter because that's the response I gave it. Let's share some simple facts shall we with Mr Kennedy, and for that matter any unionist who is under the misguided illusion that the "Union is safe"...

Fact #1 - Several recent polls have indicated that more and more Scottish people are eager to leave the Union. Furthermore, similar polls conducted in England have shown a significant portion of the English people would be quite happy to see them leave.

Fact #2 - We have gone from a situation where unionists would oppose the idea of a role from the south in the North's affairs, to a point where this role has been completely accepted and the necessity for an all-island dimension acknowledged.

Fact #3 - The economic turnaround in the south of Ireland has been so dramatic that we have gone from a point where unionists would scoff at the south's coffers, to a point where the North is reliant on the Dublin government to help its economic situation. Which, as it happens, it is doing with its "National Development Plan" that will see some €184 billion euro being pumped into NI.

Fact #4 - Ian Paisley and the bulk of the hardline unionists have gone from a point where they would shout "never, never, never" to the idea of sharing power with Republicans, to the point where they are on the brink of doing precisely that.

Fact #5 - The British government have become so exasperated at the intransigence of unionism and the continued waste of British taxpayer's money, that they are eager to bring an Irish dimension into future dealings with the North under a "joint stewardship" proposal.

Do all these things bode well for the Union? I think it's time unionists opened their eyes and viewed the evolution that's occuring all around them.

Too bad we snapped!
Those days are long over

In the very near future, if polls are to be believed, we will see a situation where the Union will have decreased dramatically in size. Scotland could very well decide to go it alone leading the people of England to contemplate doing likewise.

Where would that leave the people of NI? What are they to do if they are to be abandoned by the Scots and the English? Obviously the best option would be to come into the fold, to come into the warm bosom of their fellow Irishmen and Irishwomen, who have always had the people of the North's best interests at heart.

To say "the Union is safe" is both silly and stupid in equal measure. If the Union were really safe then there would be no need for unionist parties whatsoever. Unionist parties only sprung up in Ireland when the constitutional question reared its head. It is abundantly clear, even now in 2007, that the constitutional question in Irish politics remains unresolved. It is the unionist parties, ironically enough, who "haven't gone away you know".

There is only one way the constitutional question can be resolved. There is only one way the unionist and nationalist parties will fade away - the reunification of this country. When that day comes we can move forward as one people, one nation, together.

It is for these reasons the Union will remain far from safe. On the contrary the Union will remain on shaky ground.


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