On a day when the Uk Government has officially started the process of leaving the European Union, seemingly blind to the multitude of implications for its citizens I can’t help but wonder if we will be anywhere near ready to provide answers if a border poll debate was happening now.
I also believe recent events both externally and internally have accelerated the need for discussion. The U.K. decision on Brexitt will have a huge influence on a border poll, the march towards Scottish independence will also have a huge influence, the recent election results again bring a sense of urgency to the discussion.
looking at the scale of work involved for the UK in leaving Europe it is enormous. So enormous that all of the resources of Whitehall can’t give credible answers, or anything better than guess work to the government who are selling this.
If we are to promote unity as an attractive, viable choice we must be able to produce evidence based data that is better than guess work. If we are to win a border poll we need to be able to answer the questions of what a unified Ireland will look like, how it will work and how we will merge two completely different forms of government. We need to know how we will merge health, education, welfare, justice, policing, public services, infrastructure and the economies. That’s just for starters but it’s an indication of the job of work that needs to be done.
All of this needs to begin now and that’s before we even consider how we seriously accommodate the culture and views of those who identify as British. I believe that’s a separate job of work that is every bit as crucial and can only be done with the inclusion of all the complex versions of unionism.
I know many of the big parties will say we’re already doing this and I know from experience that some are. Well they’re doing some of it but they must realise they can’t do this alone.
What I’d propose is that if each of the various advocates are seriously prioritising Irish Unity then they need to consider a coalition. Not electoral pacts or party mergers but a coalition of people. Politicians, academics from various fields, community and social activists, legal experts on constitutional law – north & south, legal experts who specialise on various issues. We also need to reach out and include all forms of nationalism/republicanism – from the moderates to the militants. Catholic conservatives to liberals, socialists.
The people who claim to want Irish Unity come from all walks of life. To name the obvious is a starting point – Sinn Fein, People Before Profit, Workers Party, IRSP, RNU, SDLP, Fianna Fáil & Fianna Gael. It is impossible to bring these people under one coalition in terms of ideology or the day to day running of the country, it would be equally impossible to be ready for the transition to Unity without all being involved.
The militants may say they won’t involve themselves in constitutional politics, Sinn Fein and other parties have they’re own agendas but they all have a common cause in seeking unity. Like I said if the real priority is unity then who wants to be the first to say no to such a coalition. Who is putting politics or ego above the bigger objective. There are loads of reasons not to do this and only one reason to do it, but despite our differences there is common ground on the objective and on many of the social factors. The common ground on social factors extends to unionism and the work needs to begin sooner rather than later.