DUP Boss Arlene Foster Would Choose Exile Over A Reunited Ireland

There were several interesting items in last Wednesday’s BBC documentary, My Dad, the Peace Deal and Me, featuring the Irish comedian Patrick Kielty and his examination of the negotiated end to the conflict which defined the United Kingdom’s legacy territory in the north-east of Ireland for some three decades. It was a very personal piece of film-making on the cessation of the so-called Troubles by the well-known celebrity, shaped in part by the death of his father at an early age, murdered by the pro-British gunmen of the Ulster Defence Association in 1988 (at the time, the UDA was in a unique position as Europe’s only legal terrorist organisation, the UK refusing to ban the grouping until 1992 during reciprocal backchannel talks with the Irish Republican Movement).

One noteworthy snippet from the programme was the claim by Arlene Foster, the leader of the separatist Democratic Unionist Party, that in the event of the disputed region voting for reunification with the rest of the island, she would likely leave the country. Presumably for a life of disgruntled exile in Britain. Of course, historical precedent for this response can also be found among the pro-union minority in the first half of the last century.

When the greater part of Ireland and the Irish people gained limited independence in the early 1920s, a significant section of the “southern unionist” community followed the United Kingdom’s colonial state as it retreated into the loyalist redoubt of north-east Ulster. Or emigrated to Britain and far flung corners of the empire (the classic example can be found in the record of the old UK gendarmerie, the Royal Irish Constabulary, some of whom transferred to its Six County successor, the infamous Royal Ulster Constabulary, or found places in colonial police forces across Africa, the Middle East and Asia). Similar migrations – or repatriations – took place in other territories of the “Commonwealth” as they experienced an end to British rule after World War II, the city of London and the neighbouring Home Counties filling up with the sorrowful flotsam and jetsam of imperial decline.

However, Foster’s turn of phrase in the television documentary, deliberate or not, might be of some significance:

“It’s a very hypothetical situation to be in but if it were to happen, I’m not sure that I would be able to continue to live here, I would feel so strongly about it. I would probably have to move.

It’s not going to happen so I don’t have to worry about it, I don’t think, anytime soon.”

While that “anytime soon” may have been just a throwaway line, one can’t help but wonder if even the most hardline and truculent of unionist leaders know in their heart of hearts that Irish reunification is an inevitability? If so, the reasons for the DUP’s evangelical belief in Brexit, and the militarised frontier it would inevitably bring to this island nation, become clearer. Ensuring the continued existence of the British colonial state in Ireland, however shrunken or emasculated behind its partition border, is the alpha and the omega of all unionist politics.

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20 comments

  1. On Reddit I believe this was characterised as a “win-win”.

    More seriously, Molyneaux’s analysis of the 1994 IRA ceasefire continues to reverberate in Unionist thinking. It appears there is now a belief that if the Troubles could be re-ignited through re-imposition of a border, it would drive voters away from supporting re-unification and thereby secure the 6 counties despite the clear demographic trend.

    Personally I do not think it is something that rational. Rather it is emotional and psychological – Unionism today comes across as a manifestation of cluser-b personality disorder writ large and the motivation to support Brexit is a mean-spirited, finger in the eye to Nationalism by installing a border on the island. Opposition to the ILA is dog-in-the-manger grade spite. Cancelling the Maze project, Liofa bursary, so much of the DUP the last ten years appears to be motivated by a desire to stick it to Nationalism, regardless of the consequences it has for the longevity of the Union.

  2. By ‘a significant section of the “southern unionist” community followed the United Kingdom’s’ you must mean all those Protestants the south evicted from their homes and land and were still evicting from areas like Armagh until the GFA was a done deal and IRA petrol, cigs and gas smugglers were told to stop the murders which of course they ignored

    1. Name a single “Protestant” evicted by the Irish State from his or her home anytime in the last ninety years because of his or her religion. Just one name, please, and the circumstances of the state-ordered eviction.

      1. 40,000 Protestants were kicked out of the south in the years after independence you name them. There is a documentary about one man who had to move when he was a child no doubt you can find it if you search. Its worth watching for the look on his daughters face. She didn’t look as though she was prepared to pay lip service to Irish fiction. The vicar lived in West Cork until his family were kicked out, perhaps Mary Lou MacDonalds grandmother knew them.

        1. “40,000 Protestants were kicked out of the south in the years after independence…”

          No they weren’t, there is zero historical evidence that the Irish state organised any such mass expulsion of Protestants in the 1920s, and that is why you can’t name anyone forced out of the south on the orders of the Irish government for reasons of their religious identity. It simply never happened.

          On the other hand, the Northern Pogroms organised and encouraged by the unionist regime in Belfast led to the violent expulsion of 25000 Roman Catholics and so-called “Rotten Prods” in 1920-22. The historical records of those expulsions are plentiful and not subject to doubt.

          1. Read Peter Hart’s book. In 1922, Protestants were 12% of the population of the south: by 1972 that was 3%. Most of these people who left were driven by the massacres that occurred in 1922, and by the fact that the were simply not considered welcome there afterwards: outside of the Cavan Monaghan border area and a few upper middle lass areas of suburban Dublin, a 300 year old southern Protestant tradition simply cease to exist in a couple of generations: this (and the total economic and social failure of the southern state) was what fuelled the unionist paranoia.
            Charlie Haughey once famously described Northern Ireland as a failed political entity and he had a point: the southern irish state can only be described as a failed social and economic entity: the very fact that a gangster like Haughey could end up running the place is in itself a fairly serious indictment of any society: the comparisons with Rhodesia turning into Zimbabwe are fairly obvious.

            1. Is this the same Peter Hart who based some of his claims on the eye-witness account of a person who was already dead and buried in the ground on the day Hart supposedly “spoke” to him? Hart’s claims have been widely rubbished. His books aren’t even featured on any third level reading lists anymore. His own hubris destroyed his reputation and thankfully so, otherwise we’d be taking his fake history as Gospel.

              One might as well quote David Irving on the history of WWII.

      2. If you think the Irish free state and subsequent republic were not hostile to its protestant/unionist/loyalist population then you are a genuine intransigent piece of shit. You offer nothing, please don’t bother visiting north as we have enough wilful ignoramuses

          1. Yes, plenty of small minded black prods here interested only their own pious narrative, don’t need more of their polar selves to give them credence

    2. The unionists who left the 26 counties after partition in 1922 did so of their own free will. Many of them were so bitter that they could not come to terms with living under the rule of those they had persecuted and committed genocide and countless war crimes and crimes against Humanity, as in their eyes the natives were inferior savages. Now the evil empire is mostly gone and now the unionists in the occupied north east only have Brexit and the serious trouble that will cause to maintain their little colony.

      1. Genocide? That lie wont work anymore the 2009 banking disaster was caused by Irish Catholics and it proved the Irish way of dealing with high unemployment is kick the young out not keep them on the dole until the situation improves. Its also a fact that the Irish were in every branch of the British empire and among the most thieving of the land grabbers in countries like the USA Brexit doesn’t need Ireland Ireland needs the British

        1. That Irish Catholics in the USA have committed sins, there is no doubt; but to attribute this sins to their Irishness, and not their flawed human nature, just like the rest of our species, is by definition racist.

          Now, there is a difference between acknowledging our shared, flawed natures as humans, and embracing and espousing an ideology that celebrates racism and sectarianism – that proclaims that one group of people is superior to another based on historical military victories, old-fashioned Social Darwinism, or just plain ignorance.

          Caiṫfiḋ muid mórán obair a ḋeanaṁ…

  3. I hope she goes to England then, because we don’t want the likes of her and her cronies in Scotland. We’ve got enough of these sort of Orange people here already.

  4. I hope that hundreds of thousands of decent northern protestants will stay. Liberal middle class and labour-orientated workers anyway. We need them to decatholicise the rest of the country. Protestants invented Irish republicanism and assumed that they would lead that American style republic. It’s only after the British established the RC church with Maynooth in the 1790s that they could be led to believe that Home Rule would mean Rome Rule. The bigots can go ‘home’, if it’ll accept these Irish “colons”.

    1. “We need them to decatholicise the rest of the country.”

      And there you have the billy bigot brigade mentality.

      Thankfully that mentality will be outnumbered and out educated in an inevitable shared and united Ireland in the next 10 years.

  5. There was ethnic cleansing in Pomeroy. As to Foster, quote time “We would rather eat mealie meal* than have majority rule” * mealie meal was the staple diet of poor blacks. (Botha).

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