ITV’s James Mates, in his reaction to Catalonia’s recent Assembly Election, wisely noted that in fact Catalonia was leading the charge towards a referendum on independence, even though it was the Basque Country which had had the terrorist campaign about it.
He then rather reversed his point by suggesting it was a bit like Wales having an independence referendum before Scotland. No, James, it is like Scotland having one before Northern Ireland – which is what is happening! He was generous enough to accept this point in response to my note directly to him on the subject.
For the point, both in Spain and the UK, is obvious, it is fundamental, and it needs to be shouted from the rooftop – terrorism failed. ETA’s grubby and pointless campaign of terror delivered 800 deaths – but in fact the Basques are now further away from independence than the Catalans! The IRA’s unnecessary conflict saw 3,600 deaths, more than half committed directly by them – polls show a whopping 7% of Northern Ireland’s population would vote themselves out f the UK tomorrow, whereas in Scotland it will be at least a quarter and quite possibly nearer a half!
The lesson must instantly be learned. You do not win hearts and minds through bombs and bullets. Batasuna must admit that; Sinn Fein must admit that; we all must emphasise that – and then, democratically, we can work together to make our homelands peaceful and prosperous.