QUB professor lambasted over UK ‘invasion of Irish Republic’ theory

A Queen’s University academic has been lambasted on social media for suggesting a Tory government might consider invading the Republic of Ireland if Sinn Fein achieved “electoral dominance”.

By Mark Rainey
Friday, 13th May 2022, 5:21 pm
Updated Friday, 13th May 2022, 6:30 pm
Leinster House, Dublin, the seat of the Irish parliament Photo. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Leinster House, Dublin, the seat of the Irish parliament Photo. Niall Carson/PA Wire

In an opinion piece penned for RTE’s Brainstorm site, Professor Cathal McCall said the two possibilities facing the UK would be to either accept such an electoral outcome, or “deride the republican victors as terrorists and bandits who are not fit for government”.

Prof McCall said: “Though the latter trajectory may seem fantastical, it is not beyond the realms of probability. The outcome could be that the British government would move to reclaim an island that some Tories believe belongs to Britain.

“After all, it was Britain’s 100 years ago and it still holds a part of it, so why not all of it?”

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The Queen’s School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics professor is a specialist on “European Union cross-border cooperation and conflict transformation, with a particular focus on the Irish border.”

His RTE article predicts the Tories will jettison Boris Johnson before the next general election, potentially opening the door for a new leader with “British imperial delusions”.

He also predicts “no heroic Ukrainian-style resistance” to the invasion.

“Should a Tory with British imperial delusions take charge, the odds shorten on a British reclamation of Ireland in response to Sinn Féin sweeping the electoral boards,” he said.

“Such a Tory Prime Minister, less than wedded to democratic principles, may well eye the size and purpose of the Irish Defence Forces and conclude that reclamation would be a doddle.

“No Provos roaming around the drumlins of South Armagh and Louth or lying in wait in the bogs of Tyrone and Monaghan to worry about either. No heroic Ukrainian-style resistance likely. And all done in the name of ‘peace and security,’” Prof McCall added.

Former News Letter political editor Sam McBride described the article as “crazy”.

He said: “This is easily the craziest academic article (published by RTE) that I’ve ever read: A QUB prof floating the idea that the UK might invade the Republic of Ireland because it dislikes Sinn Féin. A conspiracy theory even conspiracy theorists would baulk at.”

Among hundreds of other critical responses, Guardian Ireland correspondent Rory Carroll said: “Prof Cathal McCall can be a thoughtful scholar but he and RTE reaping justified scorn over this article positing a future UK invasion of Ireland.”

The Brainstorm initiative is partly funded by a number of academic institutions in return for having their work published by RTE, however, RTE retains “sole responsibility” for editorial decision-making.

Prof McCall has been invited to comment.