Political Editorial

Brexit vote an Indy opportunity for all Celts

The peoples of Scotland and Ulster are openly debating leaving the UK, whilst this is nothing new, the worrying news for Loyalists is that many within their own communities are looking to vote for Independence.

In Scotland we saw a massive amount of people join the SNP after the failed referendum, many of whom had voted ‘No’ on the back of ‘Vows’ and ‘Project fear’. Since then we have heard an endless amount of testimonies of those who wish they could change their vote.

If Scotland didn’t have a majority wanting to leave then, it surely does now.

In Ulster Brexit could be the game changer. Who would ever think that Martin McGuinness would be able to campaign in Protestant areas of the 6 Counties to join Eire for their own good? With the option of a United Ireland in Europe or a Union with England and Wales he has the opportunity to do just that.

The politics of Northern Ireland has been gradually changing as the demographics of the 6 Counties has been changing rapidly since the peace agreement in 1998.

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As can be seen in the last 15 years (10 of which are represented in this census) the Protestant population of Ulster is receding quickly. There are in fact 15,369 Protestants less in the period 2001 and 2011.

Contrast this to the 59,571 extra Catholics and you can see that this demographic realignment will eventually lead to a Nationalist majority. Now there is the slow burn option of waiting until the demographics tick over, but the true battle field is in the middle ground.

Whilst many who associate themselves as Catholic and Republican/Nationalist or Protestant Unionist/Loyalist will never change their stripes, the middle ground of those who state no faith have begun their own political movement through Alliance.

Here the opportunity exists to pitch a United Ireland from a progressive point of view to voters who will never vote for the SDLP or far less Sinn Fein. The sectarian divide is slowly ebbing away as there are now adults born in 1998 who voted at the last assembly without ever having known the troubles.

If a border poll could assume 40% would back it from the Catholic community, how many of the 16.9% of people who are agnostic or Atheist could it count on? Indeed, how many young Protestants now disenfranchised of their European citizenship could be wooed to vote for a United Ireland?

I have often heard the Loyalists say that many Catholics would vote to remain in the event of a border poll for their own self interests. This holds an element of truth, or did. But now the tables have turned. I mean who wants to have the Pariah passport of Europe?

By the queues outside the Irish Embassy desperately trying to get Irish citizenship, the answer appears to be not many.

Scotland and Ulster have a duty to their peoples to give them an opportunity to remain as European Citizens. The decision of the English people to try and destroy the great project of peace, consensus, free trade and freedom of movement was not endorsed either side of the Irish Sea.

It is time to go back to the polls, not with nationalist pride as the motto, but with European Citizenship and pragmatic relations between communities as the emphasis. The olive branch must be offered anew as it was a generation ago on Good Friday.

With the lessons of the failed Indy referendum and an emphasis on not just progress but not wanting to regress, there exists an opportunity to pitch Independence again to the Scottish and Irish peoples. That pitch would be that a vote for Independence is in fact a vote for conservation of the rights they currently have.

Who would have thought that in a conservative electorate, that the Nationalists would be offering stability through Independence. The facts are, that Nationalism is offering just that.

 

 

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