April 25, 2017

The terrible ignorance of Ireland's unionists

Northern Ireland is the subject of a "terrible ignorance" by the people of the Republic of Ireland. This allows misunderstandings to linger and suspicions to fester. There are stereotypes of what an Irish protestant is like, as I wrote here, but these are incorrect. I wrote in my article, 'A Terrible Ignorance':
"Not only did Ireland of the twentieth century airbrush the constitutionalist tradition, they erased the avatar of a loyal Irish-British person and burnt the hard-drive. 
My Irishness is not singular and prescriptive, I’m Irish and British. Two buckets are easier carried than one, so I stand in-between. 
The unorthodox views of the northern protestant are never considered by the south. The Irish suffer willed amnesia when it comes to the loyal Ulstermen and women who are British and Irish."

Diarmaid Ferriter wrote:
"What will remain problematic in any move towards unity, however, is dealing with the reality of an Ulster unionism that may be much weakened, but cannot be ignored or coerced."
Stephen Collins wrote that over the last 100 years Irish nationalists from John Redmond to Gerry Adams and Michael Martin have failed to consider the complexities of Ulster unionists in the north of Ireland. He said:
"There is no doubt that Brexit has put the future of the UK into the melting pot... However, by moving immediately to campaign for a united Ireland nationalism has repeated the old mistake of underestimating the depth of unionist feeling. The louder the demand for a united Ireland the stronger unionist resistance will become."
Collins also wrote:
"If history tells us anything it is that the one way to ensure a united Ireland does not come reality is for a pan-nationalist front to demand its implementation. 
John Redmond’s campaign for Home Rule foundered at the final hurdle because he underestimated the depth of Ulster unionist resistance until too late in the day. His belated attempt to accommodate it destroyed his authority over nationalist Ireland. 
Irish republicans went one better and refused to recognise that Ulster unionism posed any kind of obstacle to an Irish Republic. That blindness made partition inevitable and copper-fastened it for a century. 
A fascinating seminar on the Mansion House last weekend, organised by the Collins Griffith Society, heard from historians how Redmond’s Irish Party was dealt a fatal blow at the South Longford byelection of 1917 for even considering a temporary form of partition. 
The irony is that the Sinn Féin victors in that byelection, who denounced Redmond for his moderation, effectively ensured that partition would become a reality with the hardest of hard Borders between the two parts of the island."

Andy Pollak wrote:
"The Easter Rising commemoration in [2016]… It seemed to me, as a Northerner who is a Dublin resident, that it was essentially a celebration of the birth of the 26-county Irish national state. The North – or Northern Ireland – was nowhere to be seen and rarely, if ever, mentioned."
He also wrote:
"In these circumstances I hope that the people of the Republic of Ireland will reconsider a closer constitutional relationship with the people of the North, and vice versa. I stress that this is a personal hope: I see no evidence of it at the moment. One problem is that, whether it is in London or Dublin, nobody is interested in Northern Ireland these days; few people feel any warmth towards the Unionists in particular, and everybody wants to stay well clear of the North’s age-old and unchanging (or changing at a glacial pace) internecine quarrel. Stories about continuing unionist bigotry and stupidity only reinforce this determination. Two recent examples: the non-attendance by unionist political representatives in Derry at the funeral of the much-loved Catholic bishop, Dr Edward Daly; and an account from mid-Ulster of a unionist-minded farmer who explained that he had put an annual EU farm payment of £100,000 in jeopardy by voting Leave in the Brexit referendum because it would ‘consolidate the border’."

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