As a resident of Northern Ireland, who hailed originally from the Republic, I am following the independence debate in Scotland with interest. I am in my late 60s and have spent roughly thirds of my life in the south of Ireland, in England and in Northern Ireland.
The British Isles were known as the Bonnie Bunch of Roses in the old Napoleonic ballad. The bunch lost one of its blooms when Ireland opted violently out. Without Scotland, it would be reduced to a disintegrating nosegay.
But as an obvious secessionist ally, I find the Scottish silence on Ireland somewhat puzzling (not to mention Ireland’s seeming ambivalence on Scotland’s impending experiment).
Surely the trail blazed by its “Celtic” neighbour should be a clarion-cry for Scottish nationalists. Well, it isn’t, and the reason why it isn’t should be serving as a sobering warning to the Scottish people.
Ireland took a leap in the dark after 1916, a leap from which, in my opinion, it never quite recovered.
The sundering of the country has proven to be both divisive and debilitating. The unnecessary strains which Alex Salmond and his cohorts are inflicting on the people of Scotland are wholly self- imposed.
Like Ireland, Scotland an already proud nation, is bringing this on itself. Nationalism has been a self-indulgent disaster for Ireland.
It is a disaster wherever it raises its ugly head. It is a stubborn virus and hard to shake off. The ad hominem browbeating of the Left and its dated vocabulary should be resisted.
But all credit to the Scottish people for the rational way in which the debate is being conducted – would that that had been the case in Ireland.
I would appeal to the Scottish people to keep the bigger picture in mind. We all lost when Ireland left the Union. Had a settlement like that which Scotland can now avail itself of been available to Ireland, I am convinced that the vast majority of moderate Irish people would have accepted it. But it wasn’t.
The zealots on all sides knew better. And shame on those who withheld such a solution.
Scotland and its people are held in great respect and affection. The contribution of the Scots to a wide range of spheres has banked great resources of goodwill, both locally and internationally.
Why jeopardise these valuable relationships in an orgy of flag-waving? If you want to see flag-waving, you only need to come here.
I hope and trust that the “wiser angels” of the Scottish people will prevail.
Alba gu bràth.
Holywood, County Down