The Scottish independence referendum is a week away, and one recent poll showed a swing toward the Yes side, stirred a vigorous debate the implications for Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Here’s a sampling of opinions:
Eamonn McCann writes in The Irish Times that Westminster is embarrassing itself trying to hold on to Scotland, but wouldn’t give a flip if Northern Ireland wanted to break away. “The political establishment in London couldn’t care less about the North.”
The Irish Examiner says a “yes” vote for Scotland would pose a major risk for Northern Ireland. Nothing will be the same afterward, regardless of the outcome. “Profound change will come. If the referendum passes, an immediate constitutional crisis occurs. There is no clear pathway forward, and the questions for now unanswerable, are myriad. In the event of defeat, greater devolution is now certain to follow. Like the ‘Irish Question’ the issue of Scottish independence is unlikely to go away.”
The Telegraph, in England, suggests that a “yes” vote could reawaken sectarian violence in Scotland similar to that in Northern Ireland. “If Northern Irish sectarianism had sprung from the dispossession of Catholics by 17th-century Protestant planters, Scottish sectarianism came from too large and fast an influx of Irish Catholics in the 19th century. … Such hatred has diminished with prosperity and with relative calmness in Northern Ireland, but there are many Scots who are terrified that independence will exacerbate old tribal resentments. An Orange order parade in favour of “No” is due to take place on Saturday in Edinburgh. It may well be counterproductive, especially if some of their less disciplined members fall out with nasty elements of the “Yes” campaign.”
The Belfast Telegraph says the “Better Together” campaign against Scottish independence “has made the same sort of mistakes that unionism has made over the years in Northern Ireland: far too much criticism of their opponents and not enough effort to set out the value and merits of their own beliefs. … If Northern Ireland and unionism are to survive, then the pro-Union lobby needs to be ready for the border poll and coherent enough to avoid the catastrophic errors and complacency of Better Together.”
Robert Fisk, writing in the Independent, details the similarities and the differences between Scotland’s nationalist effort and those of Ireland in the early 20th century. He says, “there is life after independence from the UK. The day the British left in 1922, the Union flag came down, the Irish Tricolour was hoisted over Dublin Castle – seat of their Britannic Majesties for hundreds of years – a UK Governor General (who was of course Irish) took his seat, and anyone lucky enough to receive mains electricity could turn the switch by the dining room door – and the lights came on, just as they always did.”