United fronts

De Facto

SEMANTICS ‘Powerhouses like Britain and the EU seem to disregard the importance of independence’.

National unity versus national independence


De Facto
Liamy MacNally

We often hear people say, ‘Be careful what you wish for’. There is a huge truth in that. Many Irish people pine for a ‘united’ Ireland. A lot of it is based on wishful thinking, a sense of romanticism or at least a little hope because sounds like ‘a good idea’.
But is it? What does unity mean?
Ireland has been united before. We were united under Britain for centuries. History tells us that it wasn’t the best of times, from either side. Successive British administrations spent their time stripping the country of all that it was worth, using everything it could to its own advantage. It’s called strategic interest.
On the other hand, successive generations of Irish men and women rebelled against the British administrations, usually unsuccessfully. Then 1916 came and went, a foundation stone for the All-Ireland Dáil. Yet, the 1921 Anglo-Irish Agreement split the country. The resulting civil war split the people.
While our current leading political parties appear to have a ‘united’ front, wait until election time. It wasn’t too long ago that Micheál Martin vowed he would never enter coalition with Fine Gael. But politics is a strange game, and game it is. Election time will spell out subtle and not so subtle differences. Regardless, unity is not the key issue, independence is.

Hounded
Powerhouses like Britain and the EU seem to disregard the importance of independence. There is a huge difference between national unity and national independence. How independent is Scotland as part of Britain? For many, Britain equals England.
We were ‘united’ under Britain and it didn’t go too well. Independence means what it says on the tin – independence. The notion of a country having its own independence is more important than the country being united. Independence is the most important aspect of nationhood. Unity in an independent country is its Holy Grail.
The 1916 Irish Proclamation referred to ‘unfettered control of Irish destinies’. We, as a country, cannot claim that now, as members of the EU. We bow to EU laws. The EU insists that EU law has precedence over national laws. Poland is the latest country to be reminded of this. The EU has also introduced a law that allows it to withhold funding to countries that do not comply. ‘Human rights’ is the great catchphrase of the EU to use against countries that do not ‘play ball’. These human rights are the ones defined by the EU, not ‘sovereign’ states.  
National currencies, interest rates and exchange rates are now in the gift of the EU not ‘independent’ states. In other words, the EU controls the economy. Countries like Ireland, and many eastern European countries, were dependent on small agricultural holdings to provide food for their people. Today these farmers are being hounded out of production in favour of big farming companies supported by the EU.

Loss of community
Community life is severely affected with the loss of people’s control at a local level. EU compliance is difficult for most people on small holdings with an ever growing reliance by the EU on bureaucracy. Loss of community is the price of bureaucracy. Put all that into the ‘independence’ and/or ‘unity’ pipe and see what colour smoke rises.
Then there’s Ukraine – the bread basket of Europe, thanks to its soil, described as among the most fertile in the world. We hear little about how the US and Western investment funds have taken over the country, apart from Irish MEP Mick Wallace questioning EU official Pawel Herczynski. He accused the EU of a failure of diplomacy as he outlined how Western supported vulture funds are trying to ‘plunder’ Ukraine’s agriculture and support Ukrainian agriculture oligarchs.    
Meanwhile, in Dáil Éireann last week, the three government parties supported a vote that will allow cuckoo funds to continue to buy up family homes. These cuckoo funds are best placed to outbid local people trying to get on the property ladder. It can also be done in such a way that they can avoid paying tax. And all this in a housing crisis.
How does that fit into any debate on national unity or national independence? Who is pulling the strings here? Independence Day dreams!