Could Lack of Emotional Attachment Spell the end of Northern Ireland? – by Michael Lagan


John Alderdice, Former leader of the Alliance Party in NEI came out with quite the statement earlier this week (for an Alliance man) – “The English public’s attitude to Northern Ireland has changed profoundly over the past quarter of a century and there is now no emotional attachment to the region.” and the North is on the “inevitable trajectory…towards de facto joint authority” and the recent elections highlight how the pace is quickening.

More than a little of that blame must be laid squarely at the feet of the DUP through their disastrous handling of Brexit, the Protocol, and the Windsor Framework.  The DUP, in all their wisdom (or lack thereof), are clearly still of the opinion that no matter what the British, Irish, EU, US, or any other government or administration might say, there is still room for negotiation of the Windsor Framework.  Realistically, the most the DUP and their hangers-on will get are scraps of legislation passed through Westminster internally and while the DUP may have been kingmakers in the past and could demand what they wanted, you can be sure Rishi Sunak will not make the mistake of allowing the DUP to be in that position again for fear his government will turn out like that of Johnson or May…or indeed Truss.

He has witnessed firsthand what a mess they made of Brexit (and make no mistake, it was the DUP who wanted the hardest possible Brexit) and everything else they touched connected to it through sheer greed, extremism, and downright sectarianism.  With Sinn Fein being the largest party in both the Northern (non-existent) Executive and in local councils the path of travel is clearly laid out in what people in NEI want, that being a more progressive, forward-looking government with MLAs and Councillors willing to work together for everyone here.  The old ‘Northern Ireland’ ain’t coming back and Unionism will never again hold ultimate sway over anything in NEI.

So what do the English think about all this?  Look at it this way, when an Irish person goes to England, whether they’re Northern Irish, or Southern Irish…we’re all ‘Paddies’.  Whether you’re Loyalist, Nationalist, Republican or Unionist, in London, Manchester, Liverpool or Plymouth – we’re all Irish, Paddies, or Micks.  In fact, when Jamie Bryson congratulated the England Ladies’ football team on winning for “Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, it was pointed out to him in no uncertain terms by multiple England fans that ‘Northern Ireland’ has its own team and “Sit down Paddy”.  

The English are fed up with NEI, and more specifically they’re fed up with the North’s version of Unionism.  Yes, you’ll always have those from England who will see ‘Northern Ireland’ as part of the UK (integral or otherwise) but many are simply fed up hearing about these British people from ‘Norn Iron’ who burn flags on the 11th Night of July, relish in sectarian parades celebrating oppression and suppression of their neighbours and are generally more extreme in their views than the likes of Combat 18 and the National Front both of which Unionism has links to.

With regard to Brexit, England has moved on.  Yes, there are issues with it and the majority have now voted through polls that they would rather be in the EU but they have moved on.  However, due to the DUP and NI Unionism, NEI is still in the midst of sorting out Brexit and by extension the Protocol and the Windsor framework.  Ian Paisley Junior claims it will be an “ice age” before Stormont is back up and running here because essentially the British government won’t give in to their demands.  This place is not working because of the DUP, it isn’t working because for once the British government isn’t bowing to Northern Irish Unionism and standing its ground on a deal between themselves and the EU and saying very clearly to the DUP, the deal is done and it isn’t being renegotiated.  No, the UK has had enough of NEI and more specifically Northern Ireland’s brand of British Unionism.  When Republicans and Nationalists become more statesman (or woman) like than Unionists the direction of travel is clear for NEI.  The next step, if the DUP refuses to go back into Stormont is shared power between the UK and the South or unity…and Unionism brought this on themselves.

2 Responses to Could Lack of Emotional Attachment Spell the end of Northern Ireland? – by Michael Lagan

  1. Kieran McCarthy June 4, 2023 at 1:13 pm #

    The short answer is yes Michael. We can already see a marked decline in an attachment to the state by some from within the unionist community. there is much to suggest that decline will accelerate as the debate continues. I believe its also safe to assume and without exaggeration that we’ll have in the not too distant future, republican led administrations in both parts of this island.

    So based upon the above, I am now going to stick my head out and make two predictions. 2025 is the year when large scale activity amongst the political and civil classes island wide, where we’ll see the establishment of a citizens assembly, followed by debate, engagement, exploring of ideas and exchanging of papers from amongst those with opposing positions to the debate, etc.

    Then, three or four years after the announcement of the polling date itself, the people of the island of Ireland, will go to the polls on a sunny day in 3032, and finally bid good riddance to partition and hence forth will have decided their own destiny.

  2. Another Jude June 4, 2023 at 7:22 pm #

    I think a lot of English people believed the nonsense they were told by their political leaders, much like with Afghanistan or Iraq or whatever conflict ‘their boy’s’ were involved in. Once the Good Friday Agreement kicked in, they just felt well that’s another of our endless wars over.