December 09, 2013

#WhitePaper - What's the case for a united Ireland?

In the spirit of Whitepapers (i.e. Scotland's Future: Your guide to an independent Scotland) I'm asking: What's the case for a United Ireland? What would a United Ireland look like? This is a rolling "White Paper" series I'm kicking of right now. Why? Because nobody else is doing it. Because nobody - again I say nobody - is able to actually make a reasoned case, or actually tell me what a United Ireland would actually look like, save that partition is an abomination, the original sin and that unionists are illegitimate colonists. When Salmond et al. came out with his considered and thought out proposal which he has put to the people of Scotland, I muttered, jeez if I were a nationalist/republican I'd be writing a White Paper pronto.

Well I'm pre-empting that. Doing that with my "White Paper" blog series which will make the case for not having a United Ireland. I submit to you that this is timely development and I ask you to join me in this mission.

To get things moving I think it necessary to understand the current state of affairs in the Irish republic. The usual criticism is the €200m public debt. That's a bit cheap. I want to hear more. So, what's the story of the Republic of Ireland right now and in recent history?

Let's begin by looking at The Growing Up in Ireland study which began in 2008, the same year Fianna Fáil implemented their No Bondholders Left Behind policy. The nation-wide study is following a representative sample of 11,000 children as they grow up in the post-Celtic Tiger Ireland.

Ironically since 2008, a great many children in Ireland have been left behind. Fintan O'Toole outlined a few startling facts in The Irish Times here. His headline was that "The gap in health between the best-off and worst-off children has doubled in the three years after the bank guarantee." Here's his main points:

"One child in every four is living in a home where nobody at all has a job (In 2010, 22 per cent of all Irish households were jobless; the next highest proportion in Europe – the UK – was 13 per cent)."
He said of this:
"This will have a devastating effect on their chances in life. Where there is no work, there is poverty – two- thirds of those in consistent poverty are in jobless households. And poverty taints everything. It is the ultimate form of child abuse."
He also said of the blanket guarantee all private bank liabilities:
"For the children who were nine months old in September 2008, [the blanket bailout] is as much a part of their inheritance as the DNA in their cells. While the banks were getting one kind of guarantee, many of them were getting another – a guarantee of all the disadvantages that flow from poverty. The policy of No Bondholder Left Behind is also a policy of Many Children Left Behind."
I ask: do unionists, young and old, want to take on this liability? Do they want to share in the filthy spoils of corruption, mismanagement, fiscal recklessness? Do they want to share in the vast debt the Irish government has bestowed on the Irish population?

"In 2008, 44 per cent of children were in families who were having difficulty making ends meet. By 2011, when the study looked at them again, 61 per cent were in such families."
"In the Growing Up in Ireland study, just 14 per cent of mothers in the top tranche of earners said the recession has had a “very significant” effect on them. The equivalent for mothers in the bottom tranche was 34 per cent."
"The starkest reality is that the health of the children in families where there is no work declined very substantially after the bank bailout. In September 2008, 79 per cent of these kids were classed as “very healthy”. By 2011, just 67 per were very healthy."
Patrick Murphy made the point that Ireland is only united in poverty. He said in The Irish News here:
"An Ireland united, not by a common concept of nationhood, but by deprivation. That's why we thought you might like to reconsider your position in Irish politics."

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