Before I get to the main business of the day, allow me to linger briefly on last night’s game. First of all, I’m ashamed of myself for being glad England lost. Not only is it verging on racist, it’s also self-contradictory. Because I love the England players. I love Gerrard with his worried little frown, and Sturridge with his big perfect face and Sterling with his comic-book hair. I even love Rooney, who has a face like a well-spanked bum and who is bursting with talent that he just can’t seem to get out of himself. But you’d need a heart of stone not to rejoice in Suarez’s goals. The way he took the first, angling it in the opposite-of-obvious direction and pushing his neck-muscles to send it beyond Joe Hart – sublime. And then the second one, with everything dependent on it, he touches it, draws back his foot and it’s in the top of the net. All this from the man who was reviled in Britain for his racist taunts (and they were racist, those who know tell me) and arm-biting tactic (although I’d far sooner have an arm chomp than a career-threatening tackle). Suarez is a case of arrested development – a big boy who just loves his football. Last night he produced not one but two things of beauty that are, although heart-breaking for some, a joy forever.
Now. Where was I? Oh right. It’s been suggested to me by a man called PJD that we should try to take a sustained, thoughtful look at the whole notion of the present union with Britain and the case for a re-united Ireland. Note those words ‘sustained’ and ‘thoughtful’. No verbal arm-biting or racist taunting allowed. That’s not to say the case on either side can’t be made with passion and conviction: it can and I hope it is. But there’ll have to be a word limit and the case must be made in a respectful way. I suggest we start by stating our two top reasons for wanting to maintain the union or to have a re-united Ireland. Once we’ve all done that, we can begin to inter-act and argue with opposing cases. But first of all, your two main reasons for wanting the status quo or a constitutional change. Let me start, if you will.
1. I believe that a grown-up people should be in charge of its own affairs. When we’re children, we need wiser heads to make all sorts of decisions for us; when we are mature, we owe it to ourselves to act as grown-ups. To have the man who lives next door, whatever his financial wizardry, arrange your affairs for you or make decisions for you is to remain in a state of constant infancy. Even the Irish people were to make a hames of running their own affairs I’d still want them to do so, rather than a neighbouring power.
2. I think the partition of this island has been a disaster. It has produced in the north a state that gerrymandered and discriminated, until eventually the lid blew off and the thirty-year period of civil unrest ensued. In the south it produced a Church-dominated state that fumbled in a greasy till, that drove hundreds of thousands of its people abroad to look for work, and that engaged in corruption and back-handers on a scale that was shameful. In a re-united Ireland, I believe the hard-headedness and the drive of northerners could enrich the south enormously, and I think the more relaxed, warm and gregarious nature of the southern Irish people would help smooth our northern tetchiness and quickness to anger.
OK – I’ve done a word-count and that’s just 600 words. Even though I think it’s too long, I can hardly ask readers to work on a smaller canvas – unless they want to. So let’s take until five o’clock this evening. Until that time, you have the opportunity to put forward two succinct reasons you would offer for wishing to remain a part of the UK, or that you’d offer as reasons for constitutional change. And remember – no interaction until 5.00 pm. Only when everyone has had a chance to make clear his/her own reasons plain will productive interaction be allowed.
Go to it.