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In response to one commenter on Slugger (who obviously hadn't read Andy Pollak's speech), I posted the following summary of his proposals and my response:


I wasn't writing a review of Pollaks speech, that has already been done by Allan LEONARD (Mr Ulster) on Slugger.  I was writing a response to it on the assumption that readers had read his speech or Leonards account of it. For those who only read the title of Pollaks speech, here is a summary:

Pollak envisages a united Ireland with a constitutional system somewhere along the spectrum between federalism and confederalism, with some continuing role for the British government, and guaranteeing unionists their British ties and identity through

  1.  a power-sharing regional government and parliament to continue in Belfast with only a few major powers such as foreign affairs, defence and some taxation now held by London being transferred to Dublin
  2.  Irish membership of the Commonwealth;
  3. the reactivation of the British Irish Council;
  4. an agreement with London that a number of Northern politicians will continue to sit as British legislators in the House of Lords;
  5. a reversal of the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement safeguard to protect nationalists to apply to unionists instead giving the British government the equivalent right to intervene to protect their community;
  6.  an overhaul of the Irish Constitution to remove or tone down any remaining elements influenced by 1930s-style Catholicism and nationalism and to include elements recognising the British identity of Northern unionists (for example, their loyalty to the British monarchy);
  7. a new flag (he suggested the symbols of the four Irish provinces, or more provocatively, the present tricolour with a small Union Jack inserted in the orange band, in the way Australia does with its flag);
  8. a new, non-militaristic national anthem (perhaps the all-Ireland rugby anthem Ireland's Call);
  9.  a new system of non-sectarian state education (including an end to compulsory Irish) and a new free, single-tier health service without Catholic Church involvement.

While some of the above is uncontroversial, much of it would be rejected by the Irish people if the results of a recent opinion poll in the Irish Times are to be believed, which also found that the Irish people would not accept significant increases in taxation or reductions in public services to pay for re-unification.

Pollak interpreted this as the Irish people not being ready for re-unification and not having thought seriously about the issue.

My response is:

  1. The above is not what the Irish people signed up to in the GFA and joint membership of the EU. It is unfair to accuse the Irish people of not having thought about the problem just because the DUP and UK government have trashed all elements of the agreed solution.
  2. That said (and here I agreed with Pollak) The form of Brexit chosen by the UK government and the DUP has created a new situation for  which we should prepare, as it could result in a trade war with the EU resulting in a serious depression in the UK which could create a new dynamic in UK Ireland relations.
  3. However the Irish people are under no obligation to accept conditions they don't like, and indeed could vote against re-unification if there is an attempt to impose them as part of the reunification process. You don't solve a problem of a disaffected minority by disaffecting the vast majority.
  4. Because neither unionists nor the current UK government will engage in planning for a united Ireland, any proposals on the lines Pollak suggests are purely speculative in any case, and could have minimal impact on any border poll while potentially jeopardising southern support for that form of UI.
  5. I have challenged Pollaks assertion that no one in the south has given serious thought to how a transition to a UI could be managed by outlining a proposed process including a lengthy transitionary period of joint authority and funding and continued Stormont institutions to allay fears that the financial impact could be seriously negative, at least in the short term, and that unionists would have no time to adjust to changed realities.
  6. My main fear is that a border poll could be sprung on us without notice or a jointly agreed approach to any transition to a UI as I consider a carefully and effectively managed transition to be essential to maintaining peace and assuring greater prosperity for all in the future.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 7th, 2022 at 10:57:15 AM EST

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