Malachi’s right – a “United Ireland” would serve no purpose

23 years on from a “United Germany”, Malachi O’Doherty is right to say there is no prospect of a “United Ireland”.

I hope Malachi does not mind my repeating something he wrote here:

“The paradox is that the ideological content of Unionism and Nationalism has become irrelevant while the division of community under these labels is deeper. The tension is more toxic while the causes have lost substance. I doubt if this could have been foreseen. The orange order of today would have appeared laughable a generation ago, arguing that it is only defending its culture. Back then it saw itself as a bulwark against all challenges to the Union; it was letting the Taigs know their place and wasn’t embarrassed about that, indeed thought it a perfectly sensible thing to be doing. And republicanism was about the predestined right of Ireland to be united, catholic and gaelic. Consent had nothing to do with it. Today we have communities that have inherited their coherence and their animosity for each other from a past when things were much clearer and simpler. And, tragically, we have a political system that is based on preserving those community boundaries.”

I myself had previously written:

“Firstly, in fact this part of the world has always been the scene of strife, being essentially where the Irish, Scottish and English meet. As you say, that makes the “nation state” a rather meaningless concept here.

“Secondly, it remains a tragedy that Europeans overall have still not learned that the “pure nation state” is no longer viable. The brutal carving up of Yugoslavia, for example, has merely sown the seeds for constant conflict.

“Thirdly, that brings us to the concept of a “United Ireland”, which in 2013 is meaningless by the same logic. The underlying concept is that the Irish nation should have their homeland, and the British (or alternatively the English and Scottish separately) theirs. But it is obvious that drawing the boundary at the Irish Sea would be entirely arbitrary, since there are British (Anglo-Scottish) people in northeast Ireland. No one has ever seriously attempted to offer a “United Ireland” on grounds other than that it happens to suit Irish Nationalists, but unless somebody can come up with such an offer, it cannot possibly take place – for the simple reason that, in a context where people in either jurisdiction on the island can be as Irish as they like, shifting the boundary between the Irish and British States (which is essentially what a “United Ireland” means) has no practical purpose other than suiting one side and not the other.

“(A sovereign Northern Ireland, deliberately designed as a multinational state, actually makes more sense, but just happens not to suit anyone politically or economically.)

“All of that is before we get to the economic and legal complications of merging two jurisdictions whose laws have been separate for a century and whose economies have been separate for even longer, and whose laws and economies merely continue to diverge ever more markedly.”

That is why, as Malachi said, it’s not going to happen. Health, jobs and education anyone?

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3 thoughts on “Malachi’s right – a “United Ireland” would serve no purpose

  1. chris roche says:

    Mulroney says:
    Surreal!
    As the ‘good’ ship United Kingdom sinks Titanic-like into the Sea of Oblivion, First Mate Ian Parsley tries to reassure his battered unionist bent by clinging onto the pathetic West Brit straw called Malachi O’Doherty!
    All to no purpose, Parsley! Ethnic origins are irrelevant in this debate. The people of the Republic are effectively Celtic Anglo-Saxon Scandinavians, and yet common-sensibly regard themselves as Irish because they were born in Ireland, a country comprising four provinces and thirty-two counties! There are only three things certain in this life: Death, Taxes, and a United Ireland. In two years there will be a Catholic majority in the Six Counties, and the Catholics in that depraved little statelet will continue to vote for Sinn Fein because the unionist parties are composed of Neanderthal anti-Catholic bigots. So by 1916, the people screaming for a united Ireland will be the Protestants, who are being treated like dirt by the Six Counties’ ruling party__ SINN FEIN!

  2. boondock says:

    I cant see why an autonomous Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom is good but an autonomous Northern Ireland in any future United Ireland is bad

    • Essentially because it doesn’t “solve” any problem.

      First, it’s *not* a “United Ireland”; Ireland remains split, Northern Ireland continues to exist (when the whole essence of Nationalism is that NI had no right to exist).

      Second, there’s no precedence in Ireland. Unlike the UK, Ireland is a unitary nation-state. (The UK is a devolved multi-nation state.)

      Third, having NI alone devolved (from 1921-72) was destabilising; in fact, even now, *not* having an English Parliament causes problems. Why on earth would a new all-Ireland state want this same problem from inception?

      Having a fairly evenly divided NI, incorporating power-sharing, inside the UK but with cross-border bodies, an open border and the option of Irish citizenship is the balanced option we consistently return to.

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