On the issue of the United Kingdom’s poisonous legacy colony in Ireland it’s rare to find a bit of non-apologist opinion in the pages of the right-wing Irish and Sunday Independent newspapers, but every now and again an article challenging the in-house consensus slips through. Joe Brolly offers some unusually realistic thoughts on the future of the UK-administered Six Counties and the running sore that is partition.
“Northern Ireland is a dysfunctional entity, a pretence.
The consensus that existed around the 1998 Good Friday Agreement has disappeared.
Unionism, in particular the now all-powerful DUP, has systematically squandered that opportunity. They have had almost 20 years to sell the idea of a fair, pluralist, respectful Northern Ireland. Twenty years to make us comfortable with the new state, to create a proper partnership, basically to do what they had signed up to do both in the Good Friday Agreement and later with the St Andrews Agreement.
At that point, nationalism, particularly middle-class nationalism, was open to the idea of a modern, pluralist Northern Ireland. Instead, they destroyed that consensus. Peter Robinson did his best to modernise their thinking and behaviour, and could clearly see what was going to happen if they didn’t.
…in the end he was overwhelmed by the bigots.
Since Peter’s resignation, the party, under the hard-line Arlene Foster, has gone back to being comfortable in its own skin, an old-style triumphalist, sneering, bible-thumping party of creationists, where the Irish language is something to make fun of, homosexuality is an abomination inviting the curse of God, gay blood is poisoned and cannot be donated, and the Catholics can wait in line.
Instead of them recognising, even tactically, that they should accommodate nationalists, they have chosen short-term electoral gain and gone right back to the old-style unionism that brought about the civil rights movement in the first place.
…the DUP, instead of showing a little leadership, have relentlessly mocked and sneered and vividly demonstrated to the wider Catholic population that doing business with them is an embarrassing waste of time.
Most of these nut jobs are fervent believers in creationism…
The result of all of this insanity is that a United Ireland is now inevitable. Within a decade, Catholics will be in the majority in the North and the statutory mechanism will be activated. But in the meantime, we will be in limbo. Maybe direct rule, maybe a pretence of a government at Stormont.”
Which leaves the post-colonial generation of alt-unionists in the Irish press, who spent most of their adult lives defending the division of our island nation, in full retreat, as the waves lap around their ankles, driven from land, to beach, to sea.