The former deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, John Taylor, has taken to making the headlines in recent years after a prolonged absence from frontline politics. Beginning with suggestions that an independent Scotland should be partitioned, with “loyalist” regions of Glasgow and the south remaining in the United Kingdom, he has moved on to arguing that Irish northern nationalists have no right to expect equality with unionists in the UK-administered north-east of Ireland.
His latest remarks spin off a deeply irresponsible statement by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, putting forward the odd notion that any referendum on reunification would require a super-majority in the Six Counties in order to be passed (with an implication of a minimum 70% or more threshold). This of course flies in the face of the Irish-British peace accords of the late 1990s and early 2000s, which effectively ended three decades of conflict in the north of the country. The Good Friday or Belfast Agreement of 1998 makes it explicit that the British legacy colony will cease to exist when a simple majority vote of 50%+1 is achieved in a democratic plebiscite. It was this guaranteed mechanism for political progress which brought relative stability to an otherwise ungovernable region. Arbitrary changes to it, as put forward by the Fine Gael leader and others, are utterly reckless and invite a return to gerrymandering and bloodshed. Simply put, if a super-majority becomes a mandatory requirement for unification, then it is in the interest of militant unionism to suppress any potential nationalist turnout knowing that a lower count would nullify even a majority pro-reunification result.
Speaking to the union-supporting News Letter, John Taylor, in his faux-aristocratic guise of Lord Kilclooney, illustrates how some unionist leaders will exploit the dangerous theories being thrown about by Leo Varadkar.
Peer: Tiny majority for united Ireland would spark civil war
He said the bulk of the Catholic community vote for nationalist parties for “reasons of community division and not because they actually want a united Ireland”.
He added: “Assuming we were wrong on this, and there was a 50.1% in favour of a united Ireland, in no way would one dare have a united Ireland.
“Because the reality on the ground in Northern Ireland is there would be civil war.
“You cannot force Northern Ireland out of the UK by a 1% majority. Can you imagine the loyalists in Belfast taking it quietly? I couldn’t.
If such warnings are listened to, then violence or the threat of violence by a separatist pro-British minority in Ireland, in support of Britain’s anachronistic colony on our island, will once again take precedence over notions of democracy or the supremacy of the ballot box.
To coin a phrase, they promise war and call it peace…