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.