Wednesday 14 November 2018

Dan O'Brien: Any unified, all-island state will have to be partly British

If unity is ever to have any chance of happening without strife, the Britishness of the minority will have to be reflected in the new state, writes Dan O'Brien

"In blunter terms, the all-island state would have to be partly British. One of the many questions around reunification is how far we in the island’s majority tradition would be willing to make the state we live in partly British."
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

The reunification of this island has moved up the agenda. Brexit has made the holding of a border poll more likely in the medium term. More northern nationalists, who voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, favour a change in the status quo. At the margins, some internationalist-minded unionists may become less attached to the union with Britain.

The Brexit effect, combined with long-running demographic trends which will soon see an end to protestant/unionist majority, makes an end of partition somewhat more likely. That means more discussion of the matter is warranted. Discussion of unification should include not only the usual suspects - Sinn Fein and those sympathetic to that movement - because when it comes to the minority tradition on this island, their republican credentials, as republicanism is understood outside these islands, are not strong.

Underneath a veneer of fashionable inclusivity is a hard core of illiberal anti-Britishness. As such, Sinn Feiners are far from convincing persuaders for unification. They are, in fact, quite the opposite as they continue to celebrate acts involving the taking of unionist lives in the pursuit of a united Ireland.

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