ON March 8, 1973, a referendum in Northern Ireland asked two questions: Do you want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom; (or) Do you want Northern Ireland to be joined with the Republic of Ireland outside the United Kingdom?
Nationalists boycotted the poll, knowing full well what the answer would be. But 591,820 people – about 57 per cent of the total electorate – voted to remain in the United Kingdom.
It’s actually a fair bet that had nationalists not opted for a boycott (but at that point in our recent history the old habits hadn’t quite died out!) the percentage in favour of remaining would have been higher, because there have always been Roman Catholics who have preferred the authentic mammon of the United Kingdom to the bogus gods of a Darby O’Gill theme park.