Ruth Dudley Edwards
Ahead of the referendum on Scotland’s independence.
Dublin-born writer Ruth Dudley Edwards writes:
“These days Scots, however, would do well to learn from the example of the island immediately to their west.
There, the people of the Republic of Ireland have mostly ignored the rest of the Celtic fringe, being obsessed instead with nurturing old grievances towards England (aka the Saxon, perfidious Albion, the old enemy and so on). Anti-Englishness was our identity: the evil country’s role was to take the blame for all our wrongs and accept our immigrants uncomplainingly. Ireland was thus a mean little country that I gladly quit in the Sixties – insular, sectarian and with a political class that allowed itself to be bossed about by a rigid and intolerant Roman Catholic hierarchy and drove out most of its writers and creative minds along with the jobless.
Such narrow-mindedness is a grim warning of what might await an independent Scotland.
In Ireland’s case, the narrowing stemmed from a revolution in 1916 that began the process of taking Ireland out of the United Kingdom, cutting off contact with the British Empire, silencing anyone who retained unionist sympathies and airbrushing out of history the 200,000 or so Irishmen who fought in the First World War. If they chose to stay, Protestants kept their heads down and said nothing about “Rome Rule”.
…For much of the 20th century, in its constitution Ireland claimed ownership of the entire island, ballads were sung about our divided nation and there was hero-worship of various members of the IRA who tried to bring about Irish unity by crossing the border and attacking police. This kind of aggressive, divisive republicanism should serve as another warning to Scotland. There will be a push to undermine institutions with unionist associations, and to foment a kind of class war. If the Scots Nationalists win next Thursday, how long will it be before they morph into republicans and call for a referendum on ditching the monarchy?