Time for a unionist debate on negative impacts of Irish unity

Comments about violence by Gerry Adams, seen above at Queen's University on Tuesday on the 20th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement, were surprisingly honest.   Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Comments about violence by Gerry Adams, seen above at Queen's University on Tuesday on the 20th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement, were surprisingly honest. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Mr Gerry Adams (Sinn Fein) has made some interesting statements in the media this week.

Mr Adams says in relation to counter-conduct / resistance that IRA violence prior to the Belfast Agreement was justified in the context of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

Letters to Editor

Letters to Editor

Asked if violence was a “legitimate means with which to reach one’s aims?” Mr Adams said: “I think in given circumstances. And the circumstances at that time in the north were that people were being denied their rights.”

Whilst unionists have been quick to confront Mr Adams’ forthright and surprisingly honest statement, given the recent increased push by the Dublin government, Sinn Fein, the SDLP and certain officials within the EU (during the Brexit talks) for a closer political and economic union between NI and the Republic, unionists should be equally honest and ask themselves what they will do if a united Ireland becomes a reality.

The options, for unionists are as follows:

1 - Wealthy unionists, those who own farming land and property, those who own businesses that depend upon co-operation with the Republic of Ireland and those who have a strong Irish identity will stay and possibly thrive in the new Ireland;

2 - Those unionists, who like Arlene Foster have strong Ulster-Scots/British roots, who feel unwelcome in the Republic and who are economically able, shall relocate to mainland Great Britain.

Some of these unionists will relocate in anticipation of a united Ireland in order to secure maximum economic benefit from the sale of any property they might own.

Other unionists will relocate after unification and in doing so may find that their property is devalued in a depressed economic/housing market (one that will stay depressed for a prolonged period).

Still other unionists who may wait to see the economic impact of a united Ireland on their jobs, incomes and standard of living, will eventually be forced to migrate back to England/Scotland;

3 - Other unionists who have strong Orange and Ulster-Scots roots may welcome the chance to return to their roots and increase bonds with family and friends in Scotland.

Paradoxically, an inward migration of Ulster ‘planters’ back into Scotland would put an end to any SNP Scottish devolution plans. For these Ulster unionists the threat of a unified Ireland will be a positive driver to return ‘home’;

4 - Other unionists and loyalists, people who for 50 years have been vilified in the media for their uncompromising stance against republican terrorism, will, I believe, be inclined to counter the conduct of the new Irish government and security forces.

Working class loyalists, those who perhaps live in social housing and depend (in part) on state welfare subsidies, those without economic security, those on low incomes and without the means to migrate to mainland UK, and those who feel aggrieved that 50 years of republican violence had been unjustly rewarded, will perhaps turn to violence.

Should unionist politicians condemn those unionists/loyalists who contemplate violence in an effort to prevent unification?

Should unionists simply peacefully surrender their British status, a status that has been in existence (in some form or other) for 400-500 years?

If Gerry Adams is of the opinion that republican violence through the 1970s to 1990s was acceptable, then I suggest that the minority unionist population within any forthcoming unified Ireland will have a legitimate right to violence in order to (a) prevent their loss of citizenship and (b) to reject ‘occupation’ of NI by the southern government.

Paradoxically, my PhD proposal (dated January 2018) to Queen’s University Belfast was designed to undertake academic research into this area of unionist subject identity and subject resistance to unification, however, there were no academics with the capability to supervise such a project.

Paradoxically in the last week, David Trimble, Arlene Foster, Rev Dr Paul Ferguson and Jim Shannon have all made statements about the subject area.

The time is right for unionist to open up a debate on the negative impacts of unification of all those within Ireland and Northern Ireland

Dr Edward Cooke, Mallusk, Co Antrim