Excellent opinion piece over on the Irish news-blog Slugger O’Toole from Gerry Lynch, a former Executive Director of the Alliance Party, a liberal Unionist group that receives limited electoral support from both communities in the North of Ireland. Lynch, who writes and blogs under the nom de plume “sammymorse”, could have been best described as a small “i” Irish Unionist. That is, he was someone who broadly favoured British rule over the north-east of Ireland for a number of political, economic or social reasons while expressing a mixed Irish and British identity of his own. The very type of person some Unionists claim first declared themselves “Northern Irish” in the 2011 census of “Northern Ireland” (though, as I and others have cogently pointed out – and as some British Unionists fear – the emphasis is clearly on the “Irish” in that declaration).
Now he seems to have abandoned Unionism – and Britishness. While initially stating his belief that the so-called “Union” (i.e. British rule in the north-east of Ireland) is or was safe, he goes on to state the following:
“Sorry to be so blunt, but I want out of the United Kingdom as quickly as possible. I know it’s lovely when you have a decent income in London or Surrey. I have spent and continue to spend an enormous part of my adult life there. But if Unionism means anything it means that Belfast is as British as Finchley. And frankly, on that score, Britishness #epicfails.
Many people I respect will disagree with me, and I mean no disrespect to them or their country – I realise that real existierender Britishness falls well short of what many Britishers would like it to be. I rejoice as much as anyone at what it is and means for Mo Farah to carry the Union Flag as he celebrates Olympic Gold, when English Cricketers stuff the arrogant Aussies and, by God, I fall to my knees in honour of what it meant for my partner to fight frightened skirmishes with the Japanese in Burma as a young man and sleep standing up exhausted against a tree, night after night. I have no wish to disrespect the flag he fought for as he himself fought death from malaria and dysentery on a Bangladeshi beach in 1943. There is a best of British – from Rolls-Royce jet engines to The Italian Job. As an Irishman of nationalist and anti-monarchist instincts, neither I nor my views have been treated with anything less than respect and willingness to understand in the deepest Home Counties Shires. Sadly, that is not what I get in Belfast. There is a worst of British and it is right on my doorstep.
So, when the inevitable border poll inevitably comes, I will be voting for a United Ireland. Of course, it won’t be an actually united Ireland, and it will have new stupidities foisted on it by Gombeen men, but could it really be any worse than this?”
That is just a snippet of a far more detailed and nuanced article that deserves a full reading. But when even a dyed-in-the-wool Alliance supporter and culturally British voter in the North of Ireland can see that the writing is on the wall is it not time to face up to the fact that we are now truly in the end game?
As I said before, “Northern Ireland” is 48% Protestant, 47% British, and that is the real motivation behind the anti-democracy protests by the separatist British Unionist minority in the north-east of the island of Ireland. Not the flying of national flags.