Northern Irish unionists fear post-Brexit land grabs

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jul/18/northern-irish-unionists-fear-post-brexit-land-grabs

Report identifies Zimbabwe-style seizures as key concern in the event of a united Ireland

Mike Nesbitt, the former leader of the Ulster Unionist party
Mike Nesbitt, the former leader of the Ulster Unionist party, was among many people interviewed for the report. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Some unionists in Northern Ireland fear Zimbabwe-style land seizures by Irish nationalists if the region joins a united Ireland, according to a report that lays bare anxieties about any Brexit-fuelled breakup of the UK.

Farmers and others with Protestant and unionist backgrounds worry that Catholic and nationalist neighbours would claim their land in a cultural, economic and political takeover by Dublin – “the mother of all fears”, the report found.

Based on interviews with focus groups and unionist representatives, the report was published on Thursday. It was compiled by Mark Daly, a senator with Ireland’s main opposition party, Fianna Fáil, to inform Irish policymakers about the implications if Northern Ireland votes to join the Republic despite opposition from unionists, as permitted under the Good Friday agreement.

“The reason for the report is to identify the fears and concerns,” Daly said. “Identity is a key one – will roads be renamed, will it become Bobby Sands international airport?”

Daly has his own fear: that Ireland will stumble into unity unprepared, unleashing grave, long-term consequences.

The senator James Wilson, who served with the British army in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, was commissioned to interview members of the Orange Order, a loyalist flute band and Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) veterans, among others.

Some expressed anxiety about losing land that was originally owned or farmed by Catholics displaced more than a century ago.

“There are real and genuine fears among the unionist community in Northern Ireland that the land would be taken from them, there would be retribution on members of the security forces and their community’s identity would be lost,” said the report, which runs to 55 pages, with another 200 pages of appendices.

Violent land disputes during the partition of Ireland in 1921 and the targeting of land-owning UDR members during the Troubles created a real fear of farm takeovers similar to those seen in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, said Daly. “It’s not theoretical. Anytime somebody says that and it’s not addressed, the fear grows.”

Other fears include loss of identity, nationalist triumphalism, retribution against former security force members, a return to violence, losing welfare and health care benefits, and rejoining the EU.

“For those who cling to the binary, and there are many unionists who do, the fear is that their identity is denied,” wrote one contributor, Mike Nesbitt, a former leader of the Ulster Unionist party.

Rev Kyle Paisley, the brother of the Democratic Unionist MP Ian Paisley Jnr, cited fear of swapping the NHS for the Republic’s uneven health care.

An unnamed UDR veteran painted a grim scenario of a loyalist uprising overwhelming the Irish army and police. “They would have to raise a Catholic gendarmerie, like the B Specials, and then you will have civil war, way beyond the Troubles II and more like Bosnia.”

There was also a strong resolve among some unionists to fight for their rights in the face of a united Ireland. “There is a lot of young loyalists out there who missed the war, champing at the bit for military glory. We need Northern Ireland to work. If it doesn’t, a united Ireland will certainly not work,” said one unionist.

Others viewed the Brexit chaos as a lesson to be learned. They saw the prospect of a border poll in the near future – with 50% +1 meaning their exiting the UK and joining a united Ireland – as a corollary of Brexit, which “filled certain cohorts of that demographic with apprehension and loathing”, the report found.

The report also stated that the Brexit referendum has demonstrated that a border poll “cannot be rushed or used for political gain” or jeopardise “the hard won peace we all enjoy on this island”.

Norman Hamilton, the former moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, said he felt those who were pushing for united Ireland “have little skill in, or interest in, uniting communities” which would be necessary for such a major constitutional change.

He said he feared a referendum in the foreseeable future “not least because of what has been learned – or not learned – from the recent referendum in the UK”.

Paisley said he believed unionists would reject a united Ireland not just on political or religious grounds but because of a lack of unity on the matter and the attraction of the NHS in Northern Ireland.

A unionist public representative told the researchers “any talk or discussion on a united Ireland by unionism is seen by many as tantamount to negotiating surrender”.

Demographic data shows Northern Ireland Catholics, who tend to be nationalists, will soon outnumber Protestants, who tend to be unionists. A majority – 56% – voted in the 2016 referendum to stay in the EU but Northern Ireland now faces a potentially ruinous exit, burnishing the appeal of a neighbour with EU membership, economic success and social liberalism.

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OP ED: Unionist fears must be addressed before referendum on united Ireland can be held

https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/mark-daly-unionist-fears-must-be-addressed-before-referendum-on-united-ireland-can-be-held-38323544.html

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Dail report highlights main fears of unionists under united Ireland

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/dail-report-highlights-main-fears-of-unionists-under-united-ireland-38322780.html

By Rebecca Black

Unionists fear losing identity, land, facing nationalist triumphalism and potential retribution in the event of a united Ireland, research suggests.

A report based on contributions from unionist politicians, loyalists, community leaders, former soldiers and clergy has identified seven key areas of concern.

These include a loss of identity, triumphalism by nationalists, retribution on ex-security forces, land being taken from unionist farmers and a return to violence.

The remaining concerns identified were around rejoining the European Union as well as the implications for healthcare, welfare and the economy.

Fianna Fail Senator Mark Daly is behind the report, which is titled Unionist Concerns And Fears Of A United Ireland.

Contributors include the Rev Kyle Paisley, son of the late DUP leader Lord Bannside; former Irish rugby international Trevor Ringland; ex-UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, and former Presbyterian Moderator Norman Hamilton.

Meanwhile James Wilson, a former soldier during the Troubles, conducted focus groups with the independent Orange Order, a loyalist flute band and Army veterans.

Senator Daly has described his report as the first of its kind by a Dail or Senate committee.

He said the “mother of all fears” that he heard in the 18 months spent compiling the report was that unionists fear their home would effectively become a foreign state.

Senator Daly urged the heeding of the advice of former SDLP deputy leader Seamus Mallon that “nationalists need to show generosity if they’re ever going to persuade unionists of the benefits of a united Ireland”.

He has also urged the Irish Government to address these concerns by establishing a New Ireland Forum 2 to look at all issues regarding a united Ireland.

Under the 1998 Belfast Agreement, a referendum on Irish unity can only be called by the Northern Ireland Secretary if there is evidence that a majority in the province would support a united Ireland.

Senator Daly said the implications of unification should be examined and known before a border poll is called.

“The Brexit referendum has taught us an important lesson,” he said. “You do not hold a referendum until every probable outcome has been examined and prepared for, where possible. The hard-won peace we all enjoy on this island is at stake.

“The holding of a referendum without proper preparation and engagement, particularly with the unionist community, would lead to the fulfilment of the warning ‘policy neglect seldom goes unpunished’.

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Research shows unionists fear united Ireland

Mark Daly’s report has examined the fear unionists have of a united Ireland

http://www.irishnews.com/news/northernirelandnews/2019/07/18/news/research-shows-unionists-fear-losing-identity-land-facing-nationalist-triumphalism-and-potential-retribution-in-event-of-u-1665479/

Rebecca Black

UNIONISTS fear losing identity, land, facing nationalist triumphalism and potential retribution in the event of a united Ireland, research suggests.

A new report based on contributions from unionist politicians, loyalists, community leaders, former soldiers and clergy has identified seven key areas of concern.

These include a loss of identity, triumphalism by nationalists, retribution on ex-security forces, land being taken from unionist farmers and a return to violence.

The remaining concerns identified were around rejoining the EU as well as the implications for healthcare, welfare and the economy.

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly is behind the report, which is titled Unionist Concerns and Fears of a United Ireland.

Contributors include the Rev Kyle Paisley, son of the late DUP leader Lord Bannside, former Irish rugby international Trevor Ringland, ex-UUP leader Mike Nesbitt and the former Presbyterian moderator Norman
Hamilton.

Meanwhile James Wilson, a former soldier who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, conducted focus groups with the independent Orange Order, a loyalist flute band and army veterans.

Senator Daly has described his report as the first of its kind by a Dáil or Seanad committee.

He said the “mother of all fears” that he heard in the 18 months spent compiling the report was that unionists fear their home would effectively become a foreign state.

Senator Daly urged the heeding of the advice of former SDLP deputy leader Seamus Mallon that “nationalists need to show generosity if they’re ever going to persuade unionists of the benefits of a united Ireland”.

He has also urged the Irish government to address these concerns by establishing a New Ireland Forum 2 to look at all the issues in relation to a united
Ireland.

Under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, a referendum on Irish unity can only be called by the secretary of state if there is evidence that a majority in the north would support a united Ireland.

Senator Daly said the implications of unification should be examined and known before a border poll is called.

“The Brexit referendum has taught us an important lesson,” he said.

“You do not hold a referendum until every probable outcome has been examined and prepared for, where possible.

“The hard-won peace we all enjoy on this island is at stake.

“The holding of a referendum without proper preparation and engagement, particularly with the unionist community, would lead to the fulfilment of the warning ‘policy neglect seldom goes unpunished’.”

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Loss of identity among unionist fears over united Ireland, report suggests

Loss of identity among unionist fears over united Ireland, report suggests

Unionists fear losing identity, land, facing nationalist triumphalism and potential retribution in the event of a united Ireland, research suggests.

A new report based on contributions from unionist politicians, loyalists, community leaders, former soldiers and clergy has identified seven key areas of concern.

You do not hold a referendum until every probable outcome has been examined and prepared for, where possible

The remaining concerns identified were around rejoining the European Union as well as the implications for healthcare, welfare and the economy.

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly is behind the report, which is titled Unionist Concerns and Fears of a United Ireland.

Contributors include the Rev Kyle Paisley, son of the late DUP leader Lord Bannside, former Irish rugby international Trevor Ringland, ex-UUP leader Mike Nesbitt and the former Presbyterian moderator Norman Hamilton.

Meanwhile James Wilson, a former soldier who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, conducted focus groups with the independent Orange Order, a loyalist flute band and Army veterans.

Senator Daly has described his report as the first of its kind by a Dail or Senate committee.

He said the “mother of all fears” that he heard in the 18 months spent compiling the report was that unionists fear their home would effectively become a foreign state.

Senator Daly urged the heeding of the advice of former SDLP deputy leader Seamus Mallon that “nationalists need to show generosity if they’re ever going to persuade unionists of the benefits of a united Ireland”.

He has also urged the Irish government to address these concerns by establishing a New Ireland Forum 2 to look at all the issues in relation to a united Ireland.

Under the 1998 Belfast Agreement, a referendum on Irish unity can only be called by the Northern Ireland Secretary if there is evidence that a majority in the province would support a united Ireland.

The Brexit referendum has taught us an important lesson

Senator Daly said the implications of unification should be examined and known before a border poll is called.

“The Brexit referendum has taught us an important lesson,” he said.

“You do not hold a referendum until every probable outcome has been examined and prepared for, where possible.

“The hard-won peace we all enjoy on this island is at stake.

“The holding of a referendum without proper preparation and engagement, particularly with the unionist community, would lead to the fulfilment of the warning ‘policy neglect seldom goes unpunished’.”

Comments Off on Loss of identity among unionist fears over united Ireland, report suggests

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