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A number of things have been happening over the past few years which are beginning to have an impact on the relationship between Ireland and the UK, and may go on to have profound implications for the future of the EU, or at least Ireland's place within it. In the past an historic enmity between Ireland and Britain arising from almost a thousand years of invasions, wars, colonial occupation, famines, economic exploitation and neo-colonial struggle led the nascent Irish state to adopt an almost "anybody but Britain" attitude to foreign affairs: staying officially neutral during the Second World war and enthusiastically adopting the EU project as a means of reducing its economic dependency on the UK. The ongoing troubles in Northern Ireland merely added fuel to these flames.

However the success of the Northern Ireland Peace Process, the emergence of a much more self-confident (not to say arrogant) Irish Republic during the Celtic Tiger years, and the modernisation of the economic infrastructure and social attitudes as part of the European project has softened what tensions remained. Now even the Queen has visited Ireland; Martin McGuinness, former IRA Chief of Staff and now Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister has shaken her hand, and the Irish and UK Governments are increasingly allied on all matters of foreign policy - and especially so in relation to the EU. In particular, the seemingly endless Eurozone crisis is leading to a re-evaluation of whether closer ties with the UK may not be such a bad idea after all.

It has ever been thus, of course. Even during the height of Irish nationalist struggles against British occupation, many thousands of Irishmen (and a few women) served and died in the British armed forces in their various colonial wars and the first and second world wars. Those who deserted from the Irish Army to serve in the British army have only just been officially pardoned by the Irish state. Generations of Irish men and women emigrated to Britain and her colonies as well as the USA in search of work during the chronically depressed years before and following Irish independence - generally to do menial work, though some rose to position of influence within the British establishment. There have always been some in Ireland - often derided as "West Brits" or the Anglo-Irish - who saw a close relationship between Ireland and the UK as the natural order of things. But they were generally in a small minority, comprised mainly of protestants, dissenters, and a few (posh) "Castle" Catholics.

But what has changed is the attitudes of official, Catholic nationalist Ireland. The child abuse scandals have reduced the Catholic Church to a mere shadow of its former, triumphalist, self. The recent international Eucharistic Congress was a pale shadow of its predecessor in the 1930's which marked the almost total domination of Irish public life by the Catholic Church. Now most Irish people are embarrassed by the sectarianism of the past - both North and South.

More recently, whilst Merkel et al were insisting that Irish taxpayers should refund in full those German and other Banks and speculative investors who had lent recklessly to private Irish banks and developers, the British Government was helpful and remarkably devoid of shadenfreude, providing relatively cheap loans and offering practical and moral support.  Ireland and the UK may have differed on the Charter of Fundamental Rightsand on joining the Euro and there has never been a widespread Eurosceptic movement in Ireland, but on most EU issues the two governments now agree.

For instance, both countries have relatively large financial services sectors and have thus opposed Tobin taxes, and both support relatively low rates of corporate taxation as a means of attracting (mostly US) foreign direct investment. That both these policies might be objectively wrong in terms of promoting sustainable development is not the point I am currently making: It is the fact that the two states are increasingly acting in concert within the EU that marks a change in their strategic relationship.

It is of course not surprising that two states which share the same archipelago and a great deal of language, culture and history should have many interests in common. What has changed is that Ireland now sees the UK as an ally within the EU, whereas before it saw the EU as a strategic partner in reducing Ireland's dependency  on the UK. This change in focus is perhaps illustrated by the discussion on Gavin Barrett's article in the Irish Times entitled UK engagement with EU is central to Irish interests. I first came across Dr. Barrett at a seminar in Trinity College Dublin where he argued the case for Ireland passing the referendum on the Fiscal Compact and which I documented in The balance of anger and fear.

In the article Dr. Barrett argues that the UK has made a strategic mistake in failing to join the Eurozone and in not engaging more positively with the EU more generally. Britain has failed to maximise its potential benefits from the EU in consequence, and the resulting public disillusion makes it more difficult for the UK to be a more effective player within the EU in the foreseeable future. He argues that it is in Ireland's interest that the UK does become more positively engaged with the EU and that recent developments have shown the benefits of Ireland's more positive engagement.

It is not often that an Irish Times article generates much interesting discussion amongst its readers, but this article may be an exception. The dominant reaction amongst the 65 comments is to ask what planet Dr. Barrett is living on. Most (of the predominantly Irish) commentators regard the UK's decision not to join the Euro as an inspired dodging of a bullet rather than the strategic mistake Dr. Barrett alleged. Most commentators are also extremely sceptical that Ireland's positive engagement with the EU in recent times has yielded much more than the burdening of the state with an unsustainable level of debt within the context of an increasingly unstable and dysfunctional Eurozone which threatens to beggar us all if not rapidly and radically reformed.

My point is that many of the commentators seem to be on the point of giving up on the EU and advocating a closer realignment with the UK instead - an argument that would have been extremely rare until very recently. It may be little more than a straw in the wind at the present time, but Ireland's love affair with the EU seems to be very definitely over if so many seem willing to embrace the Auld Enemy instead. Adopting anti-EU attitudes in Ireland used to be the preserve of Sinn Fein, Declan Ganley's Libertas, and an oddball assortment of small Catholic fundamentalist groups opposed to the liberal social reforms associated with the EU. There are many things I admire about the UK, but Euroscepticism isn't one of them. I hope we are not going to start following the British in that regard.

Originally posted to Frank Schnittger on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 04:48 AM PDT.

Also republished by Shamrock American Kossacks and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting diary (6+ / 0-)

    There will be major shifts in the near future.  Old enemies will see new coalitions.  Ireland has more in common in a time of deleverage with England than Germany especially if England is willing to be friendly.

  •  I think that perhaps you may be mistaken in a (18+ / 0-)

    few areas. They may be minor but they could be important. The nature of politics in the UK is dominance by the English. There are three major parties one far right one center right and one center. they are in matching order the Tories, Labour, and Lib Dems. The Scotish have made clear that they are sick of this and want independence of one sort or another. The major unionist party of Northern Ireland the DUP does not trust the English to not sell out their interests and the loyalty of unionism has never been without conditions (see the Ulster Covenant of 1912). The DUP and Sinn Fein seem to be happy to govern jointly and will happily accept British money but do not want to be told what to do.Full disclosure I am Norn Ironish.

    Now on the other hand the Republic has greatly benefited from EU membership. Irish banks fell because of hubris, an insane housing bubble and either incompetence or corruption on the part of Bernie Ahern and Fianna Fail and the bad decision to guarantee the banks. But Ireland is not the conservative heaven many Americans seem to think it is. It has a much more generous social welfare system for the poor and a health care safety net. The Celtic Tiger was an aberration of the Irish character. And there is a sense that they should never go back there again. So far the Irish have been able to meet targets unlike the Greeks. There is hope that the Germans may give Ireland a break if Ireland continues to meet targets. But the Irish have been aggressive at least compared to the US to tackle banking regulation and to hold people accountable. More needs to be done but it is not a matter, like in the US, that the poor shoulder the burden alone.

    I see Ireland strengthening ties with Scotland and Nortern Ireland but continuing to distrust the English. And especially David Cameron and the public school types in the Tory party.

    •  Cameron must go! (5+ / 0-)

      and take the Tory ideas with him.

    •  BNP would be the far right party. Tories in (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Zornorph, Shockwave, MBNYC, Loge

      Britain do not seem especially out there to a Yank.

      Where are we, now that we need us most?

      by Frank Knarf on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 08:33:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, the BNP is the fascist party. If you look at (6+ / 0-)

        some of the things suggested by Tory politicians in the past 3 years you will see a close resemblance between the Tories and Republicans in America. An increase in Euroskepticism, a tightening of the border, changes to citizenship law, cuts to the social safety net have been passed into law. Britain is the most servallied society in the Western world. The pinch is now being felt by Britain's poor and disabled and elderly.

        As the democratic party moved right under the leadership of Bill Clinton and the DLC, so Labour moved right under Tony Blair and New Labour. And in response Republicans and Tories moved further right. As an another example the the antichoice movement has spread to England and the right to choose is under threat for the first time.

        •  Why would anyone be ProEuro? (0+ / 0-)

          Unless, of course, you envision a United States of Europe, with residents of the German state playing alongside residents of the state of Spain in World Cup 2014, on the same team.  Come the Olympics, it will be the team from the US of Europe competing against USA and the UK.

          I really wish that ProEuro proponents would at least be honest of their vision.  

          Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

          by PatriciaVa on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 05:30:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No ProEuro proponents I am aware of (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PatriciaVa

            are proposing a unitary US of Europe on the lines of the USA. The EU is a Union of 27 Sovereign Member states who have pooled some of their sovereignty to set up joint institutions to promote some common laws, trade, worker mobility, human rights etc. Part of the reason the Euro is failing is because the ECB doesn't have the same powers of "Lender of last resort" as the Fed, can't issue joint Eurobonds like the Fed, and there are no Union level structures to redress gross economic imbalances within the Union. There is an argument currently going on as to whether those measures will eb required to save the Euro, and whether the Euro is worth the further integration this entails. But no one has ever suggested, or would want to see, German and Spanish footballers on the one team. They are so good they wouldn't have anyone worthwhile to play against!

            "It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

            by Frank Schnittger on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 04:11:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Not sure where you disagree with me (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, ask

      Where I would (slightly) disagree with you is in your assertion that the poor haven't born the brunt of the austerity insisted on by the Irish Government and the Troika, and also in your assertion we have been more aggressive than the USA in tackling banking regulation. The Irish bank bail-out was c. 40%of GNP compared so c. 1% of GNP for the US bank bail-out - so there was a huge difference in relative scale. Also the US Government got most of its money back whilst we will be singing for ours. In addition no banker in Ireland has gone to jail - or is likely to in the future - unlike the US where there have been at least a few perp walks and some (token) fines.

      "It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

      by Frank Schnittger on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 09:32:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I doubt any banker in the US is perp walked (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Frank Schnittger, Shockwave, marykk, Debby

        Americablog today reports that the statute of limitations is running out for the bankers in the US. The American government did get most of its money back, but Dodd Frank is not going to stop another failure. The Irish bank bailout should not have happened. Fianna Fail will take decades to regain their reputation. But the US is a market maker and Ireland is a market follower.

        May I ask if you are in Ireland? I am an Irish citizen from my mother and a Brit by my father. I have been to Ireland so many times and my family has always considered Ireland home. So now that my wife and I are divorcing I am going to move to Ireland. I do not need a job as I am on Social Security disability. So can you tell me where you are in Ireland? My plans are to move to Donegal because I love the moutains and the sea. I could move to Northern Ireland where my father is from and I love it very much but I do not like where there UK has been going since 2001. I do have a "strong connection" to Ireland so its not like I am a Yank searching for my roots. I know what to expect and I love it.

    •  A major reason for Ireland-UK convergence (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Frank Schnittger, Shockwave

      on EU and other issues (at least in terms of the governing power structures): that "large" Irish financial sector is in fact largely an extension of the City of London. Ireland, like the Channel Islands and a number of small commonwealth like the Caymans, became in the Celtic Tiger years an offshore banking haven. That hasn't changed despite the post 2008 banking collapse.

      •  There is a major banking disaster going on (5+ / 0-)

        right now in all of Ireland. Ulster bank, owned by Royal bank of Scotland, has been having a computer meltdown lasting almost a month. Customers have been unable to get at their money for more than three weeks. And RBS is one of the worst offenders in the banking crisis all over the world. Fianna Fail should have kept Irish banking local and in local hands. But the lure of cheap money and land speculation was too powerful to be denied.

    •  Yes, and it is little wonder then that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Frank Schnittger, PatriciaVa

      recent surveys show Sinn Fein creeping further up in the polls in the South.  Whether they'll take advantage of this opportunity remains to be seen.  Also full disclosure, I am from the South but in the US for many years.  

  •  Ireland needs to be truly independent (5+ / 0-)

    Europe is dysfuntional. The Euro is stuck between the od multi-currency days and the future European nation days (if they ever bury all the past hatchets).

    Th UK is stuck between the od imperial days and the future "one more nation" days.  Furthermore, the UK may loose Scotland (they never forgot the butchery after Culloden).  And I don't blame the Irish for not wanting to unite with their former oppressors.

    Ireland should look around.  The world is huge but communications are easy. They can become the Chile of Europe (minus the Pinochet) and prosper by establishing bilateral agreements with the likes of India, China, Japan and Brazil.  No need to join a confused Europe or a resentful (and still arrogant vis a vis the Irish) England.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 08:48:42 AM PDT

  •  Ireland must find its own way. (5+ / 0-)

    The dreadful sectarian wars of Ireland were arguably the longest wars in history.  It will take at least a generation more for those horrors to truly die away, but die they will.  The Irish were put upon the earth to teach mankind the meaning of suffering, lest the rest of us start to whinge.

    The most dangerous fire is the one you only think is extinguished.  Ireland must work to fully and finally separate itself from the Catholic Church, though they have made an excellent start.  We shall know this is done when Ulster is finally and truly of a mind to unite with the Republic and may God speed the day when this is so.  The fire is not completely out and while Ulster remains distinct from the Republic, the people of Ireland should be vigilant

    The European Union is undergoing wrenching transformations: unification and state sovereignty have proven to be incompatible, as they were in the states of the early United States before we enacted our Constitution.  Even then, significant obstacles such as slavery were swept under the rug:  they would resurface in the bloodiest war ever waged to that date.  I do not have simple answers to the problems of the EU, nor for Ireland herself.

    To my way of thinking, Ireland must finish the process of internal unification before it can be of one mind on anything.  And here is what should be its new national anthem.

    Ireland, Ireland lyrics.
    By ‘The Duckworth Lewis Method’

    Ireland, Ireland, damp sod of earth
    lost on the surf of the North Atlantic.
    Ireland, Ireland, mountains and mist,
    Vodka and chips, it’s so romantic.

    Joyce and Heaney, Beckett and Wilde,
    Bill O’Herlihy, Dunphy and Giles,
    Evans, Hewson, Mullen and Clayton,
    Westlife and Jedward the pride of our nation!

    Ireland, Ireland, once we were poor,
    Then we were wealthy; now we are poor again.
    Cows and horses, donkeys and sheep,
    Munster and Leinster, Connacht and **.

    Chinese, Polish, Africans too,
    Doing the jobs we don’t want to do.
    An Irish stew, a nation of nations,
    Working for peanuts in petrol stations.

    Ireland, Ireland, you are the best
    Place to the west of Wales and Scotland.
    Sometimes it’s heaven, sometimes it’s hell,
    But I’d rather be Irish than anything else.”

    People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.

    by BlaiseP on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 09:48:13 AM PDT

    •  I think most people on both side of the (4+ / 0-)

      border would just like to get on with life. Nationalists in the North are more concerned with justice from the government than having the status of being in the Republic. Having spent a lot of time in the North I believe that most people there are tired of politics. They just want to live in peace. The Loyalist movement is becoming more concerned about social issues like gay marriage and abortion and less with Catholic bashing. The UUP is dead, the DUP are in coalition with Sinn Fein and NI is closely following Scottish independence. I think we may see a bid of Northern Ireland independence from both the UK and the Republic.

      The Celtic Tiger made Ireland forget who she is. Or who she aspires to be. The deal Bertie Ahern signed allowing American troops to use Shannon Airport on their way to Iraq was a violation of Irish neutrality. Bertie explained it as a part of greater ties with America. Bertie wanted immigration reform in America because of the large number of undocumented Irish here. Did he get it? So the price of selling neutrality down the river was way too cheap.

      Ireland with wealth made Ireland corrupt. The economic problems Ireland has are as a result of the bank guarantees, not because of deficit spending. Ireland balanced her budgets until the bank bailout. But starting in the 90s the Irish economy became the plaything of international corporations using Irish government tax guarantees and benefits to avoid paying taxes. Many of those multinational jobs went east when a suitor country offered a better tax deal ie Poland, the Czech Republic, etc. Ireland became outside of farming and tourism a paper economy, hiding earnings from the tax man. See Krugman for an excellent explanation.

      •  That's insightful. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Frank Schnittger, lotlizard

        Nobody is sicker of the old scheme of things than the Irish themselves.

        Yet the thesis of this excellent diary is "Re-thinking Ireland's strategic relationship with Britain".   Strategy asks four questions:

        1. Who are we?
        2. Who are they?
        3. What does Done mean?
        4. What means are at our disposal to achieve that end?

        All else is tactics.

        Ireland must first rethink Ireland's strategic relationship with Ireland.  That process will lead to the answer to Question One.  All other questions remain in abeyance.   For as goes Ulster, so goes Ireland's strategic relationship with Britain.

        As you say, The UK seems to be detaching internally.  We see Scots and Welsh identities emerging, a healthy and entirely necessary evolution.  The best governments are congruent with the people:  give them the opportunity to express their own self-identification in a larger context and they will always consider themselves well-governed.

        Ulster is just now coming to terms with its own distinct identity.  Where there is no fuel, the fire goeth out, says the Book of Proverbs. The entire island deserves at least several decades to work out its own identity.  So long defined by martyrs, Ireland deserves to emerge into the land of the living, to keep fresh entries being added to the long litany of grievances.   At least a generation of peace would be a fine start.

        Bertie Ahern ought to tend his own flock.  Ireland's a strategic bit of real estate and if it makes alliances, those ought to start with the question of "What's good for Ireland?"  And that's Question One again.

        People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.

        by BlaiseP on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 12:08:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you for your kind response. (4+ / 0-)

          When Ireland first seperated from the UK Ireland fought a civil war that had in great part to do with the treaty with Britain and Ireland's obligation to Britain in the aftermath of the treaty. Initially Ireland's foreign policy was linked to Britain which was signified by the oath to the King. Essentially Britain had veto power over Ireland's relationship with other countries. Now this was in 1922 a good 17 years before the outbreak of WWII in Europe. So this dispute drove a conflict between pro and anti treaty forces. When Eamon De Valera became prime minister in the 30s Ireland pursued a rigorous policy of neutrality. There was much suffering attached to neutrality but it helped define the Irish nation. It helped Ireland to pioneer the nonproliferation treaty in the UN in the 50s. Ireland's refusal to join NATO helped cement Ireland's reputation as a nonaligned nation.

          I think, as an Irishman that Ireland is best served by a policy of neutrality and not being aligned. I think Ireland's survival as a small nation depends on not being sucked into the power games big nations are so fond of. What is good for Ireland is to stay out of other nations business.

          If I could, in a spirit of kindness, point out an error. Ulster refers to a nine county area of Ireland that contains the 6 counties in the North. Unionists refer to the 6 counties in the North as Ulster but to a Irish Republican those are fighting words. I only point this out so that you may avoid a flame war, not to be mean spirited or a stickler for detail.

          For those in the Republic the cessation of violence in the North means that there is little to worry about as far as thinking about the North. It is accepted as a fact of life and no one in the Republic is anxious of the Loyalists to become an Irish problem. They would prefer that the UK handle them. The Garda have their hands full chasing down drug dealers and fighting organized crime in Cork, they do not want to be responsible for the Loyalist drug gangs too.

          The riots in Belfast and Derry last night barely made the news in Dublin. The latest football news from England is more important. No exaggeration. The Irish want to be left in peace.

          •  I'm aware of Cúige Uladh/Ulster (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            marykk, lotlizard

            and its various meanings.  My own sentiments about Ireland are grounded in the belief that Ireland ought to return to the ancient cadence of Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connacht.  Be done with all foreign influences, and be Irish all of you.  :)

            People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.

            by BlaiseP on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 02:03:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well that would be somewhat diificult because (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Frank Schnittger, lotlizard, zinger99

              much of what you propose exisits in mythology and in the dreams of the original GAA founders but it is not going to happen. Irish is not going to replace English as the common tongue. Irish fans are not going to stop supporting Liverpool or Chelsea FC. Jedward is the face of young Ireland and they could give a shit less about some mythological dream about Niall and the nine hostages and the hill of Tara.

              That Ireland never existed and will never exist. Ireland depends on exports and tourism. Ireland can be neutral and nonaligned but it can not be isolationist. We need trading partners and we need industries that can provide jobs so no one has to emigrate. My mother's mother was an Irish language instructor and my uncles played GAA football for Kerry. They had to emigrate in order to find work. Isolated Ireland can not provide work for all her people. That is why trade is so important. Ireland needs to export more than she imports. And none of that has anything to do with ancient cadences.

              •  O I suppose you've seen your share of twee tourist (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lotlizard

                types and Yeats aficionados and the like, mooning about, cluttering up your land, lookin' for leprechauns and shamrock crockery to take home to Ohio.  I do not hold with such as these.  Ireland must look forward, not backward.  But Ireland must come from somewhere before it can go anywhere.

                As for that git Jedward, he seems to be proof of alien life on this planet.  While we're on the topic, I liked U2 much better before he decided he was Jayzus.

                Ireland must decide what it is.  This it has not done. If the word Ulster is enough to warrant a friendly enough but automatic snarl, then clearly that decision has not been made.  If I'm to be lectured on the subject of Uladh, may I return the favour and observe it will not be your generation who will reunite Ireland.  You've suffered too much to ever believe the cause of Ireland is anything but some wishful dream.  You dare not dream for you have been disappointed before.

                Eamon de Valera once said:  We, of our time, have played our part in the perseverance, and we have pledged ourselves to the dead generations who have preserved intact for us this glorious heritage, that we, too, will strive to be faithful to the end, and pass on this tradition unblemished.

                It is now your turn.  Be faithful enough, for you carry a great freight of treasure in that glorious heritage.  Nobody asks for you to swan about like Enya and sing songs about the Dealranh go Deo.  Ireland's greatest export was ever her people.  

                People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.

                by BlaiseP on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 05:18:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  "Ireland must decide what it is."??? (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Loge, zinger99

                  Ireland has decided what it is. It is a sovereign independent state within the EU and the Eurozone and with close economic and social ties to the UK and USA. The Good Friday Agreement (ratified by 94% in the Republic, and 71% in the North) ratifies that Northern Ireland remains part of the UK until such time as a majority of its electorate decides otherwise. Within all of that the political landscape is changing with the Ulster Unionist Party and Fianna Fail in decline and Sinn Fein and the DUP on the rise. My article is intended to raise the possibility of an enduring shift in our attitudes to the UK and the EU and there is a sense in which all countries are evolving. But whatever gave you the notion that Ireland doesn't know what it is? Does the USA? Does the UK (especially with the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum)? Does it make sense to speak of any country having a unanimous sense of itself? I would imagine Obama's sense of the USA is quite different from Romney's. The differences in Ireland, are, if anything, less profound.

                  "It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

                  by Frank Schnittger on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 04:39:51 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  My response on Ulster was intended to spare (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  zinger99

                  you the experience of a flame war. As my family still lives in the North and I have spent much time there I thought I would, in a friendly manner, save you some trouble. I should not have bothered.

                  How much do you really know about Ireland? If you think Jedward is one person then you obviously do not read Irish newspapers or visit the RTE website. And Ireland's destiny is no longer in the hands of the sainted Dev. What did Dev do to further the cause of unification? Nothing. He was to busy rewriting the Irish Constitution with priests as advisers to please the Catholic Church. As for his policy of high tariffs  and agricultural self-sufficiency well that was a disaster. The economic war with Britain caused much suffering and emigration. My mother emigrated from Kerry because of this. In fact all of her brothers and sisters had to emigrate because of this.

                  As for Ulster, well let me tell you about Ulster. No Irish government ever seriously proposed unification. My father emigrated from Ulster because he hated the only job he could in the North, working on the railway. We had a long family connection to the NIR going back to the early 1840s. My uncle worked there until he retired. My father who was 5'10 went out for the police. He was told he was too short, but the height requirement was actually 5'8". He got the message. I have cousins in Belfast on the Falls Road who lived there during the riots. Broken windows and teargas were a daily fact of life. I have friends near Drumcree in Portadown. If you do not know what Drumcree is you should look it up as a part of your education in being Irish. Suffice to say it is an example of Loyalist action against Catholics. I know well the realities of life in the North. When father moved back to Ulster in the 1990s British troops would frequently guard the road from Loughbrickland to Poyntzpass and crouch behind bushes in father's front yard. How many roadblocks have you been through. Have you looked down the barrel of a British gun. I have and I want peace. Peace in Ireland.

                  A reunified Ireland without the consent of the unionist and Protestant community is an Ireland not worth having. It is for the people of Northern Ireland to decide that issue and no one else. The Good Friday agreement makes this clear. Dev's idea of Ireland is dead. It started to die with the Mother and Child scheme and ended with the sex abuse scandals. Dev's idea for Ireland was very similar to Jefferson's idea for America. A land of pious happy farmers. Did not work then will not work now. Ireland needs to provide a life to every one of her sons and daughters so no on has to leave. There is a big difference between Joyce going into exile and my mom, at 16 and seasick having to leave home because there was no life for her there.

                  •  My family is Irish and I've worked in Belfast (0+ / 0-)

                    and their Dublin call centre, both onsite and remote, for Oracle.  

                    It's no accident the Duckworth-Lewis Experiment bleeped out Ulster.  For crissakes, Jedward is a joke.  I used the singular, hoping you'd get the joke.  They're twin brothers.

                    No joking with you, it seems.  I repeat myself in saying Ireland will not be united by your generation.  If only you lot could see your quarrelsome selves as you are seen.  It's beyond absurd, the way you carry on.

                    Seamus Heaney said it best

                    From The Frontier Of Writing

                    The tightness and the nilness round that space
                    when the car stops in the road, the troops inspect
                    its make and number and, as one bends his face

                    towards your window, you catch sight of more
                    on a hill beyond, eyeing with intent
                    down cradled guns that hold you under cover

                    and everything is pure interrogation
                    until a rifle motions and you move
                    with guarded unconcerned acceleration—

                    a little emptier, a little spent
                    as always by that quiver in the self,
                    subjugated, yes, and obedient.

                    So you drive on to the frontier of writing
                    where it happens again. The guns on tripods;
                    the sergeant with his on-off mike repeating

                    data about you, waiting for the squawk
                    of clearance; the marksman training down
                    out of the sun upon you like a hawk.

                    And suddenly you're through, arraigned yet freed,
                    as if you'd passed from behind a waterfall
                    on the black current of a tarmac road

                    past armor-plated vehicles, out between
                    the posted soldiers flowing and receding
                    like tree shadows into the polished windscreen.

                    Arraigned yet freed.  That's what you are, Ireland.  Too bitter to believe you might actually be free.  You live in a prison of your own making, locked from within.  Nobody can free you but yourselves.

                    People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.

                    by BlaiseP on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 09:06:22 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Is there a compeling reason to reunite? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Frank Schnittger

                      You do not address any of the issues I have raised. With EU membership the border is meaningless. The M1 runs smoothly into the A1, smoothly except for the tolls. Taking over the administration of the North is a job the Republic does not want to take on. The situation that Seamus refers to is something I have seen very up close and personal. I have seen the bombed out buildings in Newry and Warrenpoint. The spot just outside of Banbridge where the Miami Showband massacre happened. But those days are over. Peace walls are opening even as we speak. The Irish language is alive and well in the North. We have great hopes for Belfast I town I love well that it we be a beacon of art and culture and history that will attract visitors from all over the world.

                      We see ourselves free. But we need to be free enough to avoid being entangled in geopolitical power games. The British army has left mostly, the towers are down the helicopters no longer prowl the skies. And if you are a victim of crime you stand a good chance of getting justice.

                •  How much do you really know about Ireland? (0+ / 0-)

                  My response on Ulster was intended to spare
                  you the experience of a flame war. As my family still lives in the North and I have spent much time there I thought I would, in a friendly manner, save you some trouble. I should not have bothered.

                  How much do you really know about Ireland? If you think Jedward is one person then you obviously do not read Irish newspapers or visit the RTE website. And Ireland's destiny is no longer in the hands of the sainted Dev. What did Dev do to further the cause of unification? Nothing. He was to busy rewriting the Irish Constitution with priests as advisers to please the Catholic Church. As for his policy of high tariffs  and agricultural self-sufficiency well that was a disaster. The economic war with Britain caused much suffering and emigration. My mother emigrated from Kerry because of this. In fact all of her brothers and sisters had to emigrate because of this.

                  As for Ulster, well let me tell you about Ulster. No Irish government ever seriously proposed unification. My father emigrated from Ulster because he hated the only job he could in the North, working on the railway. We had a long family connection to the NIR going back to the early 1840s. My uncle worked there until he retired. My father who was 5'10 went out for the police. He was told he was too short, but the height requirement was actually 5'8". He got the message. I have cousins in Belfast on the Falls Road who lived there during the riots. Broken windows and teargas were a daily fact of life. I have friends near Drumcree in Portadown. If you do not know what Drumcree is you should look it up as a part of your education in being Irish. Suffice to say it is an example of Loyalist action against Catholics. I know well the realities of life in the North. When father moved back to Ulster in the 1990s British troops would frequently guard the road from Loughbrickland to Poyntzpass and crouch behind bushes in father's front yard. How many roadblocks have you been through. Have you looked down the barrel of a British gun. I have and I want peace. Peace in Ireland.

                  A reunified Ireland without the consent of the unionist and Protestant community is an Ireland not worth having. It is for the people of Northern Ireland to decide that issue and no one else. The Good Friday agreement makes this clear. Dev's idea of Ireland is dead. It started to die with the Mother and Child scheme and ended with the sex abuse scandals. Dev's idea for Ireland was very similar to Jefferson's idea for America. A land of pious happy farmers. Did not work then will not work now. Ireland needs to provide a life to every one of her sons and daughters so no on has to leave. There is a big difference between Joyce going into exile and my mom, at 16 and seasick having to leave home because there was no life for her there.

      •  Fascinating discussion by you and BlaiseP. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Frank Schnittger, Debby, zinger99

        Points raised by both of you resonate on so many levels.

        The longing for independence is not confined to Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. In Hawaii too, there are folks who hold fast to a vision of Hawaii regaining her independence. Why should Hawaii be the plaything and military outpost of a (increasingly poorly governed and economically corrupt) North American polity with completely different interests and history, they ask? The old bogeyman argument, "If it hadn't been for us, you'd all be speaking Japanese" doesn't water much taro in the Islands anymore.

        The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

        by lotlizard on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 01:00:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It makes sense. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger

    Norway is staying out of the EU.

    There's been conversations about the old "arc of prosperity" from Scandinavia to Britain.

    Even some minor rumblings from folks on the fringes about a Scandinavian Union of sorts, that might include an independent Scotland, and could easily include Ireland as well. Especially considering the fact that the Nordics have routinely been closer to the US than to Europe, mostly because of cold war tensions in the Baltic.

    They're happy to be part of Nato and enjoy trade ties with the US. Denmark, Iceland, and Norway have been helping us out in Afghanistan.

    That's mostly a pipe dream right now.

    If the Scots choose independence in 2014 and the Eurocrisis isn't over yet, on the other hand, the possibility of an alternative to the EU grows significantly.

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

    by OllieGarkey on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 10:52:17 AM PDT

  •  It's probably wise (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger

    for Ireland to steer a middle course for a couple of years.  

    The EU Core Countries are bogged down assimilating/integrating Southern Europe for several more years, that is true.  And UK is devolving to its political parts and sliding down to some post-Empire economic bottom and starting over of its own, at which time it will become more of an EU member and need EU help.  

    It's probably not a bad thing for the English-Irish relationship to become more peaceable and equitable in the meantime.

  •  I'd been thinking the same thing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger

    After seeing the articles about the Queen's visit with Mr. McGuinness, and wondering about the bigger picture. Thanks for filling me in.

  •  Interesting argument. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger

    I'd just note that Ireland is a net beneficiary of EU subsidies for agriculture and infrastructure, courtesy of Brussels (or more accurately the German -- and British -- taxpayer).

    That said, though, a closer relationship between London and Dublin is an unalloyed plus for both. Both countries, not just the Republic, are becoming more secular and, in the process, maybe ready to leave their bloody past behind them. Personally, it's my experience that, accents aside, it's not the easiest thing to tell apart the British and the Irish; they have more in common than they realize, I think.

    Fuck me, it's a leprechaun.

    by MBNYC on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 03:15:45 PM PDT

    •  Ireland was well on the way (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MBNYC, IreGyre, marykk

      to becoming a net contributor to EU coffers when the crisis struck. The role of "EU subsidies" in Ireland's development has been somewhat overplayed - there were a lot of other factors as well.

      "It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

      by Frank Schnittger on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 03:24:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  For all her faults, Thatcher was so Prescient... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    soros, zinger99

    ...in closing the door the Eurozone.

    Why any leader would willingly give up monetary sovereignty is beyond me.  The UK would be selling 10-year debt at 5%+ had it committed the mistake of joining the EZ.

    Instead, it's paying 1.55%.

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

    by PatriciaVa on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 05:26:54 PM PDT

  •  I don't think you can truly analyze how the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger

    Irish feel about Britain and the E.U. by judging the comments in the comment section of an online newspaper article.

    Open comment sections of newspapers often attract the weirdest people.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 05:30:53 PM PDT

    •  It's a stretch, I know (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Loge, Lawrence

      to attach too much significance to the comments on one Newspaper article, but I am a regular reader of the Irish Times and familiar with the arguments (and many of the commentators who make them). It struck me that I had never before seen so many (otherwise v. diverse) commentators express disillusion with the EU and advocate what amounted to UK Eurosceptic positions. I did say in my article that it might be just a straw in the wind, but I wrote the article because I felt it signified more than that. As a participant in all the recent referenda debates, I am struck by how the political landscape in Ireland may be changing in relation to both the UK and the EU and I felt it might be useful to write a short article articulating that position. It is now a mainstream position for Economists to oppose the Euro, in particular, and that has not been the case in Ireland before.

      "It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

      by Frank Schnittger on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 04:24:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, it's also just kind of popular to bash the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Frank Schnittger

        Euro right now, in general, but I'm not sure that this will last.

        As long as David Cameron is in control of England and shoves neoliberalism down everyone's throat, I really don't see Ireland becoming too close to England.

        In fact, I'd be more inclined to see Scottland move away from England.

        "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

        by Lawrence on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 12:59:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not a Euro basher, quite the contrary, but (0+ / 0-)

          The Euro has deep seated structural problems which the main players (chiefly Germany) seem unwilling to resolve. Chief of these are an ECB which lacks key Central Bank functions of lender of last resort, issuer of joint debt (eurobonds), and a mandate which includes growth/employment as well as inflation. Also the EU lacks the automatic balancers and fiscal transfers which occur in a genuine Federal State such as the USA. If England were to leave the EU Scotland might well vote to stay in and thus become a separate state, but I can't see either happening in the short term.  However if the Euro truly implodes, then all bets are off.

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