You probably know who Michael O’Loughlin is. I’ve never heard of him, or not until I read an article by him in today’s Irish Times titled ‘We need to stop talking about a united Ireland’. Like God, Michael’s mind moves in mysterious ways.
It appears Michael visited Belfast in recent days, and was impressed by how much it’d come on. Only then, he came on the Ormeau Road, he says, where he found streets festooned with Union flag bunting and red hand of Ulster banners.
‘Whenever I see a union jack, be it in Belfast or London, I feel a certain atavistic revulsion for the “Butcher’s Apron”, so I can easily understand how the unionist community has the same reaction to the Tricolour. As such, it can never, under any circumstances, be the flag of a united Ireland. The fact is, the very idea of a united Ireland is already a flawed and self-defeating concept.’
Well now. The reference to the Butcher’s Apron, Michael, is because the British had an empire that straddled the globe and imposed itself with violence and frequent barbarism on what it saw as lesser breeds without the law. Ireland has never had an empire, so while unionists may detest the Irish tricolour, it has to be for other reasons than that Ireland had a bloody empire. Besides which, of course, proponents of a united Ireland have repeatedly said that everything – national anthem, a new constitution, a new national flag – will be the subject of consideration and agreement.
Michael goes on to compare Ireland and Catalonia, with limited success. But he knows what he likes. And dislikes.
‘ If a Border poll in Ireland were to result in a 51 per cent majority for nationalists, would this lend legitimacy to the concept of a united Ireland – would it become more of a reality? Does it never occur to supporters of a Border poll that they are just replicating the behaviour of the people who founded Northern Ireland as a sectarian state 100 years ago?’
This, alas, is the point where I leave Michael’s argument. The establishment of a united Ireland would be the polar opposite of the establishment of NEI, which was the division of Ireland. There is a difference, Michael.
If a border poll were to result in 51% majority for nationalists, that’s what’s called democracy at work. It’s also what the Good Friday Agreement, an international treaty, guarantees. Yes, many of us would like a bigger majority vote, but a majority is a majority. Unless like Boris Johnson you’re cavalier about signed agreements and dismissive of democracy.
So are you, Michael?