I’ve been sitting on the following post for a week or two and wasn’t going to bother posting it at all until I read Gerry’s post on ‘Identity Crisis‘. He raises a very important point that (re)unification would be as painful for nationalists as it would for unionists (by “nationalists” I presume he means all uz green coloured Irish, personally I wouldn’t describe myself as a nationalist). The NI constitutional question always follows the same line with nationalists trying to persuade unionists of the merits of a UI and the arguments always take into account concessions which the Irish State would need to make. Ok, of course certain changes would be needed down South but just how far do they expect us to go? As far as redefining our identity to “to create an all-Ireland state which is in some way British”? How big a price are people down South willing to pay for a United Ireland? Do we actually want a UI that badly?
There’s only so much I’m willing to pay and this is where I twist the question around. What’s in it for me?
The delectable Jo recently asked the question Unity – why? and I’d also like to know why. Like most of us down South (I assume) my reasons for wanting a United Ireland would have been based simply on emotion but this emotional desire has been slowly eroded over the years, especially during this time that I have been living abroad and have had the chance to visit many countries around the world. The addition of a family to my responsibilities has also affected my position obviously. So for me it’s no longer a question of what price I would pay for a UI, I’m now in a position where I’d be asking what can Northern Ireland bring to the table? Why should I vote for a United Ireland? My support is not a given, as much as I’d be delighted to share a country with anyone from any community North of the border (with notable exceptions) there’s only so much I’d be willing to give and I would certainly be expecting something in return.
I like to think of myself as a reasonable buachaill, our flag, anthem, constitution – we can change those. It’s when we get onto issues such as the Irish language, national identity or economic issues that’s where we’d hit some stumbling blocks.