Given recent events in the United Kingdom, with Brexit representing a glorified if long delayed sulk by the British at having their imperial toys taken away, renewed talk of a united Ireland is very much in the air. And very much raising the ire of the Wannabe Brit tendency in the news media who fear seeing any further reduction in the nation’s historical ties with our former masters to the east. As long as Greater England’s first and last colony exists somewhere on this island, however diminished, the Ascendancy fetishists can still hope that we may eventually return to… Well, no one really knows what, not even themselves. But whatever their aspirations, the glut of anti-unity and pro-partition articles and opinion pieces over the last several months makes it clear that there are still a few barks left in the revisionist dog.
As it happens most of the “realistic” or “hard-headed” arguments made against reunification, as opposed to mere ideological postulation, are built upon weak stuff. Here is former RTÉ journalist Tommie Gorman:
A new proposition gaining popularity is “the game is up for unionists, Northern Ireland is a failed state and it’s time to push for a united Ireland”.
The RTÉ/TG4 poll, conducted alongside the May local and European elections, suggested 65% of voters south of the border would back a United Ireland if a referendum were held tomorrow.
Had the respondents or indeed the pollsters ever heard of the system of Motability or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) cars?
Motability is the scheme providing motoring to over three million disabled people and their families in the UK, Northern Ireland included.
Google search any of the main garages in Northern Ireland and it will explain how participants in the Motability Scheme are entitled to a new car every three years, replacement tyres, free insurance and road tax, no cost servicing and repairs, free breakdown cover and two named drivers for the vehicle.
One significant dealer in Northern Ireland says at particular times in the year 25% of his car sales are through the scheme. He also points out that the recipients are receiving no more or no less than their entitlements under the scheme.
Would the DLA system be part of the new Ireland? If yes, who would pay for it?
Would it not be the same people who pay for the free all-Ireland travel subsidy for pensioners? Or any of the other allowances that have been brought into effect by the authorities in Dublin and underwritten through the general system of taxation?
Of course we all know that the UK enjoys a significantly better health service than we have in Ireland and that this needs to be addressed in any debate about reunification. It simply can’t be ignored or we run the risk of the failed Scottish independence referendum of 2014. Or worse: Brexit. However, there is also no doubt that the UK-run Six Counties is one of the most impoverished regions of the United Kingdom and the European Union in general, with the public sector subsiding most aspects of the economy. Far from being an exemplar of the benefits of British rule, the North of Ireland is a basket case, politically, economically and socially, and has been in that condition since its inception in the 1920s. As a straightforward legacy of colonialism “Northern Ireland” offers no real and lasting benefit to its inhabitants beyond those who place national identity above their own personal well-being or that of their children. And when you have an open and festering wound that needs remedial surgery no amount of free plasters and lollipops is going to fix it.