On Saturday, Irish nationalism had an internal conversation with itself at the Waterfront Hall.
The event, to reiterate the common ground among participants of the awfulness of Brexit, seems from reports to have had a self congratulatory air, as one speaker after another was met with thunderous applause for denouncing the UK plan to leave the EU.
Unionist villainy over Brexit was not the only the offence on the charge sheet: supposed victimisation over the Irish language was also cited and other suppressions of ‘rights’.
Mary Lou McDonald told the gathering: “There are no ‘little Irelanders’ here and we will not tolerate the narrowness of the Brexiteers or policy of isolation imposed by Brexiteers.”
Ms McDonald is a smooth talker who knows how to appeal to a crowd, so perhaps she privately accepts that little Irelanders were at the heart of Saturday’s event. Her party is obsessed with the goal of removing NI from a nation of 70 million people, that might conceivably flourish outside the EU supra-national entity, to one of six million people, that could not easily thrive outside a larger umbrella.
Indeed republicans’ single minded fixation with this destination of ‘national unity’ is such that their movement’s own longstanding Eurosceptic instincts have been cast aside in the belief that embracing the EU makes an exit from the UK more likely, particularly post Brexit.
This newspaper does not remotely share the politics of the Workers Party, as outlined in the letter opposite, but at least they call out the sort of self righteous Irish nationalism that gets on its high horse about British nationalism.
Leaving the EU is a complicated and difficult process, not least because of the ridiculously short two-year exit window under Article 50. But short of staying in the EU, which it cannot accept, London will face nationalist opprobrium in Scotland and NI. It must not lose its nerve on account of that uproar.