A question to be pondered in the Centenary Year of the Irish Republic
Over in the USA,
Bill O’Reilly, host of Fox News’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” is threatening to flee to Ireland if democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is elected president.
Mr O’Reilly is proud of his Irish ancestry, derived from his great-grandfather John O’Reilly. At 16 years old he fled from famine struck Clonoose, Co. Cavan with his twin brother, ending up in Brooklyn, New York.
Query: So exactly how Irish is his discendant, Bill?
Over on a Northern Irishman’s blogsite Harry Mc Avinchey, guest of Jude Collins, has stirred up a right old hornet’s nest as Republicans, Nationalists, Getalongerists and Unionists debate what being Irish means.
Personally speaking, I have long been convinced some form of “Binary Jurisdiction”
is the only way to satisfy the desires of northerners to be either Irish or British.
- Neither group can strongarm the other.
- Nationalists/Republicans waiting for demographic change is disheartening, degrading and demeaning.
- Unionists/Loyalists live in fear of losing their “Britishness” – i.e. all that is dear to them.
Query: What to do?
The next big step forward in finally providing an answer to the “Irish Question” will only come when individuals and communities (councils etc) are allowed to choose whether they want to live and work under the jurisdiction of the RoI or the UK government .
*People choose where they want to pay National Insurance contributions and are treated acordingly in the NHS, pension schemes, unemployment benefits etc.
*Salaries for those who chose the RoI could be paid in Euros but the cash dispenser would yield either Euros or Sterling.
*Council areas could decide to be policed by either PSNI or the garda Siochana or both.
*Schools could offer either or both curriculums and state exams, depending on demand, pupils’ interests and abilities.
*Anyone who switches to the ROI regime will give up voting rights in Westminster and Stormont in return for a vote in Irish national elections.
- The scheme would refer only to people in NI who would be given the opportunity to contribute to either state.
- It wouldn’t mean doubling up any system – merely extending one and shrinking the other.
- It wouldn’t be “a bureaucratic nightmare” as modern computer programmes would eliminate all the angst.
- I doubt if the ROI would object to receiving new contributing citizens, though it might be afraid of an increased SF vote. But the NI people would be free to vote for whatever party they wanted – FG, FF or whatever.
- The UK shouldn’t object, given its declaration of no “selfish, economic ” interests etc in NI. Furthermore the UK block grant could be adjusted accordingly, making it a win-win for the UK too
- Unionists should be very happy to have their own little Orange Stormont back. They could do what they want with it and their people as there would probably be few or no nationalists or republicans about the place.
- Dissident republican movements and Loyalist paramilitaries would wither on the vine
- If we agree the people are more important than holding on to a piece of land of no particular interest to the UK, this is the only way forward that satisfies the demands of national identity by everybody in NI.
Comment: In accordance with their own personal choice individuals living in NI would be included in either the RoI or UK. What’s not to like?
In the meantime while we’re waiting for that to happen, here’s a little contemporary video about what it means to be Irish
PS Some of these views of mine already appear as comments on Jude Collins’s blog.
We’ve discussed them on this blog in other posts including