In 2014 we saw ourselves as a small nation in a David-versus-Goliath fight. Realistically, in the beginning we did not expect to win. One theme repeated frequently at the time was that we just wanted to be a nuisance, that we wanted to have a bit of craic, upset the apple cart, and maybe – if we got lucky – give the English political establishment a bloody nose. We saw ourselves as a pesky younger sibling trying to make a point. But something changed. At some point in August 2014 it dawned on us that we might win – that we had a real shot of securing independence.
Xavier Bettel, we can be sure, speaks for the vast majority of European leaders. The United Kingdom’s shambolic handling of its departure from Europe is a serious matter. Not only does this threaten the health and well-being of ordinary people in the UK, it poses a serious risk to the peace and security of Ireland – an EU member state, it promises serious and far-reaching economic consequences for the United Kingdom and the European Union, and creates – by damaging the integrity of the institutions which have preserved peace and coöperation since the end of the Second World War...
Britain is making these preparations because Britain’s domestic political and military leaderships understand what will happen – not what might happen – when food and medicines are cut off from the continent and when the stockpiles are exhausted (which will succumb to corruption). Brexit, the Brexit we now face, presents the United Kingdom with certain unavoidable realities; war in Ireland and a renewed and intensified IRA bombing campaign in England, food and medicine shortages, civil disorder, and widespread rioting over England, Wales, and Scotland.
Stuart Campbell came remarkably close to saying this in his recent interview with Alex Salmond when he said “we will all grow old and die before we have a second referendum” if we continue on with this policy of asking and asking ad nauseam permission from a British government which we have effectively handed the power to always say: “Now is not the time.” Ultimately, what this means is that the independence movement in Scotland and its political leadership are pinned down in their constant reference to England – to the will of Westminster and the English state.
Ireland’s struggle for independence was not a violent struggle. The 1798 rebellion of the United Irishmen was not an act of violence, and neither was the 1916 Easter Rising. Following the logic and the sound moral reasoning of Scotland’s Claim of Right, that it is “the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs,” and the United States’ Declaration of Independence – “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…”
Britain is not going to face the prospect of this level of economic chaos without controlling Scotland’s resources, yet neither can it risk Scotland continuing to upset the Brexit dream and the hoped-for creation of the Great British tax haven. In short, London really does have to have its cake and eat it if any of this is to stand a chance of working. So, how can Westminster get rid of Scotland and keep its paws on our resources at the same time?
Lyra McKee’s murder was, as a journalist, as President Higgins said, “an attack on truth itself.” It is also very much an attack on Ireland’s truth. For as long as Derry, Down, Tyrone, Armagh, Antrim, and Fermanagh remain under the control of the British state, separated from the rest of Ireland, so long as Britain keeps part of Ireland subject to the priorities of England in Westminster, and ignored, dominated, and neglected, there will always be the potential for a return to violent conflict. People’s lives will always remain under the shadow of violence and the horrors of war.
Risking making the greatest understatement of the decade, it’s fair to say that we are in a mess. Given that both the government and the opposition are committed to leaving the EU, and given that right-wing mobs are now gathering around Westminster with placards depicting executions and advocating political violence – a sure indication we have reached a pre-revolutionary phase of this unfolding shambles, there will be no re-run of the Brexit referendum and there will be no so-called People’s Vote. Those ships have sailed. Whether we like it or not, we are now heading into the abyss.