I was accused the yesterday of “not respecting the aspirations of Nationalists”.
Which is odd, because on this blog alone you will find:
- a detailed and practical means of enabling all Irish citizens, including therefore anyone in Northern Ireland, to vote in Irish Presidential elections;
- a detailed and practical debate about the delivery of an Irish Language Act; and
- a detailed and practical outline of potentially attaining, er, a United Ireland.
The really messed up thing is you will find none of those from actual Nationalists! You will struggle anywhere in all of the Internet to find any concrete, practical, detailed proposal or even debate-starting outline for any of the above from a Nationalist commentator, and certainly not from a Nationalist Party (random demands or proposals which involve Unionists waking up one morning and suddenly realising they are Irish count as neither “detailed” nor “practical”, for the record!)
I have even met representatives of Nationalist parties in a purely personal and voluntary capacity to discuss all of these, particularly the first two (deliverable as they are within the confines of the current Agreement) – and have happily done so anywhere from a leather-seated coffee house to the Felons’ Club.
As it happens, I also spoke strongly at a major conference in Dublin last month, attended by the Tánaiste and Scottish Minister for External Relations, of the legitimacy of Irish Government intervention during the EU referendum in defence of the interests of Irish citizens in the UK (most notably in Northern Ireland where citizenship is automatic) and of cross-border trade and leisure. My intervention was by invitation but, again just to be clear, was entirely voluntary. I may have missed it, but I don’t recall any actual Nationalists making this point publicly.
So I politely contend that I fully respect Nationalist aspirations, and indeed have acted purely in a voluntary capacity to try practically to fulfill them. Could it be, in fact, that it is Nationalists who are not so good at offering the same respect they demand?