Thoughts on Unity (the principle, not the games engine)

I am musing about the concept of unity.

I never really thought about Irish unity until recently. The Republic of Ireland has always been a foreign land, somewhere to visit, somewhere to holiday, but not home. It is a land populated by friends and good memories.

From what I can tell the province of Ulster has always been people apart. Reading the Ulster Cycle it was clear our myths and legends diverged.

The concept of Irish unity therefore needs to be on multiple fronts; cultural, economic, social and national.

The first issue is that as an outsider I see the Republic of Ireland as united. There may be issues with the haves and the have-nots, there may even be issues between the city folk and the rural folk, the people of the west and those in the east but they are one people, secure in their identity.

It’s not the same in Ulster. We have three cultures at war – nationalists, unionists and everyone else; corresponding roughly to the discrete identities of "Irish", "British" and "why does it matter?"

Our economies could not be more different. Ireland is a sovereign nation prepared to do what’s necessary. Northern Ireland is a province of subjects, beholden to London for any creature comforts.

There are other differences; the Irish are hungry for business, buoyant in their humour, liberal in their attitudes and optimistic in their outlook. The subjects of Ulster are self-deprecating, suspicious of outsiders, conservative, risk-averse, and pessimistic about the future.

Ireland is not haunted by the constitutional question. Beyond a few, the attitude of the Irish to a United Ireland seems to be "Aye, grand"

Northern Ireland is haunted constantly by this. We are categorised by either being for or against. Our media refuses to recognise the rest of us who ultimately could care less. And it’s holding up progress, it’s causing poverty, division and violence.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Unity (the principle, not the games engine)”

  1. There’s such an emotional attachment to the constitutional question that logic doesn’t have a bearing on the proponents of republicanism or loyalism.

    The question is how to we make the issue less emotive? The Good Friday Agreement certainly helped but how do you get people focused on the economic and cultural issues and away from the baggage of the past. It’s hard to give people opportunities if they live their lives with a chip on their shoulder.

    Matt, do young people’s opinions also fall along sectarian lines? Would a young CS graduate tend to vote DUP/SF? Is there even a viable alternative?

    Thanks for all your insightful posts.

    1. The Good Friday Agreement was the rock upon which we built the peace; and subsequently with the St Andrews Agreement and Stormont House Agreement and a hundred other little slices, they’re dismantling it.

      Young people who are raised in sectarian dominated ghettoes are subject to the same sectarian culture bias.

      I don’t like the idea that there is no viable alternative to sectarian parties. There are heaps of alternatives in every election. But for some stupid reason, people don’t think that casting your vote for a losing party matters as much as casting for a winning party.

      I read during the election that people are more likely to vote for a party that will win than one who has sound policies. Because we put emotional attachment into the outcome of a vote and not just in the input. So we have sports-fandom in elections, we have people who vote tactically (vote for the party that could win, if the front runner loses because we don’t like the front-runner).

      People should vote with their hearts. Obviously. But people are not great at managing odds, they’re not great at voting for the things that will actually help them.

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