Sunday, May 3, 2009

Comment: Unionist Identity in Northern Ireland and the European Union

Great post by Eurocentric on his blog (The European Citizen: Hearts and Minds and Europe)

I left a detailed comment in response. I'm going to disable comments on all my "Comments" posts in future, as I want to drive traffic to other people's blogs. If you want to respond to what I've written - please do so on Eurocentric's blog!

Another great post!

I'm interested in your presentation about unionist nationalism in Northern Ireland (I'm giving a presentation on Tuesday about UK nationalism in general). Could I get a look at the notes for your presentation? Either as a blogpost or sent to me directly?

In return, I'll post the results of my presentation as well! :D

As to the rest of your post:

"Although the Republic doesn't really want NI until it can afford it"

I think this is a really interesting point. On the other side of the coin; when I was in Northern Ireland I heard people say that they don't think the UK really wants NI (too expensive to police and support economically) - but it can't afford to be blamed for any bloodshed that unification would bring.

And in Derry/Londonderry, I had an interesting talk with a nationalist about why a lot of Catholics don't support unification. His take (in Derry, at least) was that if the Republic took over government in the North (and hence welfare support), it would simply be unable to cope with the high levels of unemployment.

Northern Irish Catholic identity (i.e. I don't mean just "nationalist") is also a very interesting thing. Chatting with NI Catholics, I got a real sense that they have some mixed feelings towards Catholics in the Republic. There's sometimes a sense that NI Catholics have gone through something that people from the Republic don't really understand - they haven't shared in it.

In a sense, just as NI Protestants are alienated (or at least distinct) from people in Britain, NI Catholics are distinct from those in the South (I'm deliberately avoiding the terms "Unionist" and "Nationalist" to make this particular point - although I'm aware of all the problems of terminology. These are big, clumsy statements I'm making!)

"Irish reunification would be a lot easier and acceptable for unionists within a European context"

When I first arrived in NI, I really supported this idea. But after living there for a while, I started to understand how much unionists (in general) seem to hate the EU. It almost seems that any symbol of identity supported by one community automatically cannot be supported by the other.

These are only my observations after less than a year living in NI, so I could be completely barking up the wrong tree!

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