It is not good enough solely to blame unionism for the border in Ireland — it takes two to make a border

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor
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Home rule for Ireland in 1912 would not have created a border, only an autonomous jurisdiction in the UK according to Seanán Ó Coistín (‘No, sorry – the Irish border really is a result of unionist demands,’ May 22).

Seanán makes home rule sound very innocuous if the demarcation line for that autonomous region is in the Irish Sea. But when, due to unionist influence, that line started to drift across the north east counties of Ireland it was described by nationalists as the mutilation of the Irish nation. So perhaps not as innocuous as Seanán claims.

Might home rule have become a stepping stone to full Irish independence? Devolution for Scotland in 1999 has not quenched the thirst of nationalists there for independence.

Two peoples one island? John Redmond, the Irish Party leader, regarded as blasphemy the two nations theory — that some in Ireland see themselves as British is considered misguided in certain nationalist quarters. Unionists were forced to arrange partition to protect their own sense of nationhood. Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan unionists reluctantly agreed with this in 1916.

This was not an outcome unionists sought. But Irish republicanism was not far below the surface and its dash for glory post 1916 resulted in the full international border we see today. It is not good enough to solely blame unionism for the border in Ireland. It takes two to make a border!

When two human perspectives collide over the same piece of earth this is what can happen. I am putting a unionist perspective here which was the point of my initial response to Seanán. Generally we are poor at acknowledging other perspectives.

In the last 100 years nationalists and unionists in Northern Ireland have shared the same history but there is little agreement on it. Would it not make future relationships better if we could agree a past that both sides can sign up to?

Now there’s a challenge.

Thomas Stewart, Belfast BT4