Ireland's Future? We Want More Borders Not Less

Ireland’s Future is a new organisation that wants to spark debate about what a United Ireland might look like. They have been holding events around the country, including one in the 3Arena in Dublin last week attended by 5,000 people.

The talking shops are the brain child of a young student from a Belfast university, Peter Adair, a Protestant from a unionist family (and a surname shared with a former notorious loyalist terrorist, Johnny Adair) who has converted to a ‘soft nationalist’. His background gives the movement some apparent cross-community legitimacy and the conference also boasts celebrity Protestant speakers like actor Jimmy Nesbit, however it has been boycotted by Unionists and the Alliance Party.

Polls up north have shown that a referendum proposing the six counties be simply added to the Republic of Ireland have little hope of getting over the line so pragmatic nationalists are voicing alternatives at Ireland’s Future - trying to find ways that might tempt moderate unionists to bail on Britain.

In recent years the UK has been flushing itself down the economic toilet with one act of electoral self-harm after another. Nationalists hope that while the unseemly chaos of Brexit Britain unfolds they can come up with a reunification plan soft enough to convince moderate unionists to say goodbye to old Blighty.  

At some stage Britain will probably sober up, go on a treatment programme and get itself back together. That means United Ireland zealots need to make hay while reasonable unionists watch with horror at the bedlam unfolding across the water.

In fairness to them, Ireland’s Future are trying to sophisticate the debate around unification and move it from the simplistic 20th century ‘Brits Out’ philosophy to discussing constitutional propositions that might be acceptable to unionists.

That might mean proposing a more federal island with the How-Now-Brown-Cows retaining similar devolved powers at Stormont rather than facing the doomsday scenario of being ruled by Healy-Raes and Varadkars from Dublin. There have even been suggestions that Ireland could re-join a reformed Commonwealth to swing the moderate unionist vote.

PROC wasn’t invited to speak at the Ireland’s Future conference at Dublin’s Three Arena last week –  clearly showing that whatever constitutional change occurs, the rest of the island, will continue with its anti-Cork bias. Had we been invited, the audience, luxuriating in a sea of confirmation bias, would not be pleased with what we have to say on the matter.

the obligations of a contrary Corkonian would insist on suggesting that instead of less partition on our island being the answer to all our problems, maybe more partition is actually what we need. There is a strong argument that dividing the island more is actually the answer to all our woes and would be far more acceptable to unionists than trying to dress up direct rule from Dublin in a cloak of middle class yerra-yerra plámás.

The island of Ireland has never existed as a single independent political entity with one government based in Dublin. Pre-colonial Ireland was divided up into chiefdoms (and we’re not talking about being ruled by posh sailing club types here, feen) with a notional king sitting on a stone in Tara who nobody paid much attention to.  

It may surprise some readers that Munster, Leinster, Ulster and Connaught are not lines on a map concocted by D4 rugby chiefs (or sailing ones for that matter), but are, in fact, ancient kingdoms onto themselves complete with their own kings, laws, Gaelic dialects and traditions.

The bedrock of Irish Republicanism has been that borders are bad. PROC believes that borders are not the problem - we should relish lines on maps and draw more of them because it is within borders that different traditions, quirky customs and mad accents can flourish. Different is daycint.

Borders have got a bad name, but they exist for good reason. See, like, to get on with your neighbour you need a proper border between your gafs. It doesn’t have to be a solid wall, a hedge or a waist-high fence will do (as long as their stupid Jack Russell can’t sneak through and take a dump on your grass), to give you have a defined and legally respected space where you can do whatever weird stuff you want with nobody to bother you.

And then, if you like your neighbours you can invite them over for an all-night rave. And if it goes well you might even want them to call round more regularly or even move in with you (possibly at the expense of annoying another jealous neighbour, but that’s life!).     

PROC wouldn’t advocate a return to the ‘Munster Republic’ – a temporary state setup by anti-treaty forces that lasted little over a month during the civil war - but giving those parts of country that want more autonomy the independence they need to thrive will lead to far more harmony and equality on the island than tinkering with constitutional unity.

And more borders will help keep inhabitants of The Pale in situ too - the last thing anyone in Cork, Belfast, Limerick or Derry need on a warm summer’s day are bus loads of Dubs wrecking our buzz!

Ireland’s Future is unknown but nothing will bring different communities on the island together quite like a shared distain of Dublin.