Jim Allister, leader of the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV), recently had this to say about the establishment of genuine cultural and linguistic equality between the majority communities in the north-east of the country, as reported by the pro-union News Letter:
“One of my fears would be that such was the DUP’s desire to get power that they would pay a price that shouldn’t be paid,” he told the News Letter.
“It could be that we’d end up with something called the Language Act rather than the Irish Language Act. It might make some meaningless nod to Ulster Scots as well.
But if it gave the recognition that Sinn Fein was demanding to Irish then it would be a noose around our necks financially and another part of the de-Briticisation of Northern Ireland. Because that’s really what it’s all about for them.”
Of course, what the North Antrim MLA is actually referring to is the “decolonisation” of Ireland. But then, to use those words he would have to admit that the contested territory of the Six Counties represents the last anachronistic remnant of Britain’s colonial state on this island nation. Not that the government of the United Kingdom itself had any hesitation in referencing this historical fact when was it arguing the lesser constitutional status of Scotland before 2014’s independence referendum.
26. From 1603, when the Stuart King James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne, Scotland and England (and its colony Ireland) shared the same monarch.
36. We note that the incorporation… of Ireland, previously a colony, under the Union with Ireland Act 1801 (GB) and the Act of Union 1800 (Ireland) did not affect state continuity. Despite its similarity to the union of 1707, Scottish and English writers unite in seeing the incorporation of Ireland not as the creation of a new state but as an accretion without any consequences in international law.
Jim Allister’s belief that there is a campaign working towards the “de-Briticisation” of the UK-administered north-east inadvertently recognises that the region was in fact originally Irish and not British. He should probably sit down and think about that…