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Loyalty June 4, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A solid piece by one of the more grounded unionist voices over the years, Alex Kane, in the IT on the issue of the Irish Sea “border” that Brexit has imposed. He argue that that border looks set to stay, despite unionist anxieties over it. And he argues that a number of events have led to those anxieties, if not exactly dissipating, at least being reduced. He points to the return of the Assembly and a Unionist First Minister and indeed the pandemic itself as all contributing to that reduction in concerns. The DUP response was telling too, that being a grudging acceptance of the reality of such a border.

But another aspect that he points to is also fundamental, one has to think, to all this:

The biggest problem for unionism, though, is that the ‘betrayal’ comes from its own parliament and prime minister. That makes it much harder to fight, particularly when opinion polls in England suggest that few tears would be shed if Northern Ireland ceased to be part of the United Kingdom. There’s another problem for them. This sort of ‘betrayal’ does raise a fundamental question: why is your loyalty to a government and broader union which doesn’t seem to care all that much about your fate or constitutional status?
It would be inaccurate to say that unionists are happy with a new border. But nor are they so unhappy or, indeed, so confident about their chances of success, that they will choose to pick a fight with Johnson on this issue.

The point isn’t that this will have unionists questioning their unionism, at least not as such. Attachment to the UK is much more broad based than the technicalities, or emotions, around the post-Brexit shake-out. Rather it is that Brexit has brought into sharp relief the power dynamics that actually exist.

Small wonder that Kane quotes DUP Executive Minister Edwin Poots saying the following:

“We’d have the advantage of actually having access to the [EU] single market and to the UK market and make NI an attractive place for inward investment.”

That may have been an unimaginable stance for him to adopt even six months ago. It may well be making the best of a bad situation, as he and they would see it. But it also happens to be true.


1. Joe - June 4, 2020

A teeny weeny step along the road that Conor Cruise O’Brien posited for unionism near the very end of his political career. He was, iirc, a member of a small unionist party led by the charismatic lawyer chap, Robert McCartney, originally from the Shankill. And the Cruiser made a speech where he said something along the lines that unionism and unionists might be better served by going into a UI than being a tiny, thorny constituent element of the UK.
Cue consternation of course in said party and the Cruiser resigning from same to save Mr McCartney’s blushes.

But, to get today’s debates up and running… maybe the Cruiser was right.


WorldbyStorm - June 4, 2020

Yeah, didn’t he say that Ulster should remain Ulster but within a UI. That the RUC etc would remain more or less intact etc. I’ve always thought that that was an interesting conceptual leap for him to make, however problematic many of us might find the detail, to acknowledge that an all-island context was the sensible one. But as you say, that has a logic.


2. Joe - June 4, 2020

And there’s a GAA club being set up in East Belfast. One pebble, then another, then a landslide.

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