What baffles me is who’s calling for it. About a week ago Gerry Adams made a speech in the Dail where, among other things, he requested the Taoiseach to support the notion of a referendum on constitutional change in Ireland. Translated, that means he asked for a poll about the border. No, ‘fraid not, Enda told him. There is no call for that at the moment at all at all. Last week also, Declan Kearney of Sinn Féin made a speech in Westminster (no, Virginia, not actually in the House of Commons chamber – in Westminster) in which he called, among other things, for a referendum on the border.
Both these requests were a bit surprising. Because as John Taylor has been telling us for about twenty years now, anywhere around 30% of Catholics are very happy where they are, in the United Kingdom. The Belfast Telegraph had a poll and they found that there were about four Catholics in the entire state in favour of a united Ireland. That Sinn Féin and anybody else who thought there was a will for a united Ireland was talking out of the back of his or her neck.
So there’s disagrement. Despite John Taylor, despite the Belfast Telegraph, Gerry Adams and Declan Kearney and presumably a lot of other people would like an official referendum on the subject. Well, count me in on that. And my surprise is that Enda Kenny and Peter Robinson and all of the DUP and the UUP (or what’s left of its badly-mangled semi-corpse) would be in favour of it. You’d also think that Gerry Adams and Declan Kearney would be trying to AVOID having a border poll, given that there’s only four Catholics in favour of it. Or 30%. Or whatever. Because the result would be a ringing endorsement of staying in the UK. Right?
Well, I don’t know. Neither does John Taylor or Declan or Gerry or Peter. Or the Belfast Tele. There’s only one way to find out: have the referendum. Let’s have the facts of the matter. If there’s a majority in favour of constitutional change, well, then everybody will have to read the bit in the Good Friday Agreement that tells us what happens next. If there’s a majority in favour of no constitutional change, well, then everybody will have to readjust their thinking or, if they believe in a united Ireland, ask themselves how they can persuade people. One way or another, we’ll know the truth. And then we won’t have to take Enda or Peter or John or the Belfast Tele’s word for it any more.
I always think it’s easier judging what a room looks like when you switch on the light, don’t you?
Im all for referendums but this is stupid and an expensive folly when funds are tight. Is it not more sensible to have the referendum when Nationalists are in a majority in Stormont. Im not saying all nationalists will vote for a United Ireland but a lot will be more likely to vote for it when they know its a realistic option which it most certainly isnt at the minute. The head countery from the 2011 census will probably reveal the catholic and protestant populations to be very close (factor in a huge number of migrants from catholic countries in the last 10 years circa 100000) and maybe thats what is getting SF giddy about the prospects but I personally feel they will be better waiting until 2025 when Stormont is likely to be more Nationalist than Unionist.
2025? Really, 2025? I personally think that you are very comfortable with whatever situation you are in.”Up the status quo” is probably your motto.Call for the referendum and let the chips fall as they may.The worse that could happen is that partition remains.But, the other option is….
Politicians are not too keen on letting the chips fall where they may.They rather like to know in advance where the chips may fall.
This seems like a risky tactic for Sinn Fein. No one expects a referendum to give a positive result just yet,but a result even worse than expected would be a set back for them.
So I’m not too sure that this is a genuine call rather than mere politicking.
2025 is a realistic figure have you looked at the stormont elections recently if you think there will be a nationalist majority next time round then you are dreaming and as for whats the worst that can happen well it can range from a disappointing result to giving the dissidents an excuse to continue as the ballot box isnt working!
The sooner the better bring it on.
‘Im all for referendums but this is stupid and an expensive folly when funds are tight.’ – we pay how much to have young men in Afghanistan fighting something they plan on leaving, is this not a waste? So, dropping money on sorting out a rather more important question is not a waste.
Is it not more sensible to have the referendum when Nationalists are in a majority in Stormont.’ – Nope.
‘Im not saying all nationalists will vote for a United Ireland but a lot will be more likely to vote for it when they know its a realistic option which it most certainly isnt at the minute.’ – yet are you saying that ALL unionists will vote for staying in the union? If so, why?
‘The head countery from the 2011 census will probably reveal the catholic and protestant populations to be very close (factor in a huge number of migrants from catholic countries in the last 10 years circa 100000) and maybe thats what is getting SF giddy about the prospects but I personally feel they will be better waiting until 2025 when Stormont is likely to be more Nationalist than Unionist.’ – getting giddy? They’re calling your bluff chap. We all know the constitutional status won’t change for a while, but why not periodically see what people think? Please don’t pretend we don’t do this everytime we have an election, this is just a bit more focused…
‘So, dropping money on sorting out a rather more important question is not a waste.’
Footballcliches it is an important question but when we all know the result then whats the point.
‘yet are you saying that ALL unionists will vote for staying in the union? If so, why?’
If a unionist doesnt want to stay in the union then they are no longer a unionist lets not beat around the bush we are talking about religion and pretty much every poll/survey has support amongst the protestant population for a united ireland around 1-3% compare that to the catholic support for the union anywhere between 20 and 50%.
The only reason existing unionists would opt out of the union is if there was a third option ie an independent Northern Ireland but that wont happen as it would split the vote
My big arguement is most people sit on the fence or go with the flow and back the status quo however if Stormont had a nationalist majority then a number of these catholics would start to back a United Ireland. The problem for unionism is these catholic unicorns are pretty fickle and will change their minds if things are going that way or if it affects their bank balance. The other big thing is nationalism only needs to win the poll once.
Now is not the right time for the referendum I would guess that although 43% vote for Nationalist parties the Pro UI vote would only get about 30%. Over the coming years catholics will become the majority in the poulation, more seats at stormont, council level and Westminster will become green and the Republics economy will bounce back – When these things happen then a referendum should be held!
But why not have a referendum now to test the water and get a proper and accurate reading of how people feel about this constitutional change. Who says that it couldn’t be done periodically say every 10/12yrs. It has been promised it the GFA.
Another important point is that the poll could be used to show physical force republicans that there really is another practical political alternative to violence.
Maybe but it may also show the dissidents that a UI through the ballot box is a long way away and only encourage the nut jobs!
Doesn’t matter how long off it is the point is that there is a viable alternative to physical force
Anonymous (?) apologies for the delay with the reply, about to rock on to Aus so naturally, I’m somewhat preoccupied, but let’s go over a number of your points.
‘Footballcliches it is an important question but when we all know the result then whats the point.’
But we don’t know the result as the question has not been asked, now do we?
‘If a unionist doesnt want to stay in the union then they are no longer a unionist’
yet you go on to say
‘although 43% vote for Nationalist parties the Pro UI vote would only get about 30%.’ therefore I ask, are 13% of Nats not Nats at all as they vote to remain in the Union?
Granted, that would tie in with what I have said before about Nats being pragmatists while unionists are dogmatic and irrational human beings 🙂
Ye olde argument of ‘we know the result’ when we don’t is a poor one. It also is slightly undemocratic, after all, we ‘know’ the results at certain elections at every level, then why have elections in certain constituencies when the results are foregone conclusions?
There seems to be a lot of tilting at windmills here.The reality is that without the agreement of the British and Irish governments,no border referendum will be held.The utterances from Declan Kearney on this may serve to heighten his profile in advance of his possible entry into politics via the Westminister seat of Mid -Ulster.
Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement a border poll has to be held every 7 years once the first one has been called.
Belfast Telegraph online poll
Should we have a poll on a United Ireland?
Interesting debate on the same subject going on at BangorDubs blog.
Kearneys “possible entry into politics” lol, good one. I think you’ll find that man entered into politics quite some time ago and much to the disdain of other more “conventional” political parties; he has much more clout in Sinn Féin policy making than most of their elected reps
I stand corrected.I should have said electoral politics.Up to this,I gather he has been one of the men behind the scene devising policy.Are you ruling out his entry into formal politics with a popular mandate?If it suits Sinn Fein,that could be the way to go.