The Irish Times this morning continues reporting bits of the survey it’s done regarding Irish politics and a united Ireland.The paper emphasise the impartiality of the research, with 1,000 people in the north and 1,000 people in the south questioned, and in addition focus group discussion. Today’s report tells the reader how much (or how little) each jurisdiction knows about the other.
It seems there’s an insularity within an insularity. Two-thirds of people in the south say they have no friends in the north, eighty per cent have no relatives there, and more than half haven’t visited the north in the past five years.
I’m assuming the Irish Times will consider the political implications of all this, but let me introduce a couple of talking points.
Why might it be that two-thirds of southerners don’t have any northern friends? Two obvious reasons are geography and shared experiences. If you live in a different part of a country, it’s more difficult to maintain friendships than if your friend is in the next street or the next town. If I’m living in Tyrone and you’re living in Kildare, we might have a friendship but the odds are against it. And since we are separated geographically, it’s unlikely we’ll have shared experiences. In fact, if you stop to think, the southern government and media for decades did their utmost to keep the north at arm’s length, until many southerners saw themselves as taking their life in their hands to venture to South Armagh or West Belfast or Derry. Yes, those days are over in terms of conflict, but not in all sorts of other ways. Sky television, for example, won’t let me have access to RTÉ, the national broadcaster, when there’s an international soccer game involving the Republic of Ireland. Michael D Higgins may remind people that he’s the President of Ireland, not President of the Republic of Ireland; but even southern nationalists routinely refer to ‘Ireland’ when they mean the Republic of Ireland. Which leaves a lot of northern nationalists without a country and in my own case, a sudden realisation that I’m married to a foreigner.
Why has the Irish Times conducted this survey? If you’re charitable, you’d say it’s that newspaper engaging in the kind of research work necessary as we move towards a border poll. If you’re a little less charitable, you might say it’s an attempt to stress how different the north is from the south, and if you’re interested in a united Ireland, you’d better thinking in terms of decades hence, not years.
The free state elites in FFG and RTE are hell bent on ensuring that Ireland ends in Lifford and Dundalk etc
The occupied 6 might as well be on the moon for all they care.
They are only interested in British occupied Ireland for the purpose of bashing the dreaded Shinners and as a means to criticize SF and wider republicans for all the violence.
It’s enough to make your blood boil
The deafening silence on issues like Aidan McAnaspie murder and similar British war crimes is sickening.