Malachi O’Doherty: Unionist support for Brexit showed little consideration for my Irishness

British with an Irish identity, but not so contentedly British to assent to being part of a nationalistic little Britain
British with an Irish identity, but not so contentedly British to assent to being part of a nationalistic little Britain

The writer and commentator Malachi O’Doherty wrote this on his Facebook account. With his permission we are reproducing it here:

I am a small ‘u’ unionist, in that I assent to being governed inside the UK. I do not have the identity concerns of a large ‘U’ unionist.

The commentator Malachi O'Doherty on stage at the''DUP annual conference at the La Mon House Hotel in Belfast in 2013. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

The commentator Malachi O'Doherty on stage at the''DUP annual conference at the La Mon House Hotel in Belfast in 2013. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

I have no regard for monarchy, would rather it was abolished, and I am not a Protestant. I am, for now, a British republican.

All of this is contingent on my material comfort and security, not much on identity. I do have Irish identity concerns. Usually I am completely at ease about being Irish.

I am rarely if every mistaken for anything else. But my Irish identity concerns kick in when they are demeaned or treated as if they do not merit any consideration.

That is what unionist support for Brexit makes me feel. I am not so contentedly British that I would assent to being part of a nationalistic and xenophobic little Britain, particularly one at odds with Ireland.

The Irish language has little relevance for me in this debate.

Come the border poll, my vote will be based on material concerns, as it would have done before, but also now on identity concerns.

Materially, I want a good health service. The state of the NHS would be the most likely decider for me.

But just as unionists often insist that their unionism is not dependent on material concerns, I don’t doubt that many Irish people will vote with no greater or lesser concern for their health and pensions than they would.

Malachi O’Doherty