In the morning I often think of a woman I never met. Natalia Jimenez Martinez was 30, living on the quays like me, and working in Castletroy. And like me and quite a few of my friends, she would cycle into work, crossing town and turning right at the Hunt Museum to head east on her bike. Except for one morning in 2014, when she was turning right like I do every morning, and she was crushed by a truck carrying medical supplies, and killed instantly. I think about Natalia, because I think about me and many of my friends who cycle every day along the same route, and I wonder when it’ll be me or someone I know who will lose their lives to a careless driver.
It’s time we acted.
We have a great cycle path along the canal and river out to UL. I use it every day, as do many others. We need to build on this and build a safe cycle network in Limerick. First step is an east-west spine through the city – a safe and segregated route through the city that you would let your child cycle on. There is a route that would connect primary, secondary and third level education establishments. There would be some inconvenience for car owners as the cycle route would take some road space away from cars, but there would be many benefits, and there are opportunities to improve facilities for pedestrians too by making footpaths wider.
The route would be a straightforward one, starting at the beginning of South Circular road and extending the entire length of the road on the left hand side, past Mary I, Scoil Mháthair Dé, St. Clement’s and Laurel Hill (and a block away from Limerick School Project and The Model), down Henry Street and around Arthur’s Quay, then turning right at the Hunt Museum along Charlotte’s Quay, joining up with the canal path out to UL.
It would need to look like this:
A two-way, fully segregated path that cannot be parked on. Wide enough that you can go two abreast and chat to your friend on your way to work. With signage that tells motorists to yield at junctions, with a raised level and tightened corners for crossing car traffic, and traffic lights where necessary. A quality piece of infrastructure that would get kids out of cars and onto bikes, solving much of Limerick’s traffic problems in one swoop.
More female secondary school students in Limerick city drive themselves to school than cycle according to the Central Statistics Office. This statistic saddens me. This route could change that.
There would be some outrage too of course. Some residents on the South Circular Road would no longer be able to park their cars right outside their houses. Most of the road would have to become one-way. Nobody likes change. There would be familiar calls for the cycle lane to go somewhere else (O’Connell Ave needs to be a priority for public transport and has a massive hill in the middle, going down the Dock Road would make no sense), or that it would be a waste of money, and a thousand other reasons. But if we’re serious about Limerick, if we want our home to be a serious European city that can attract people to work and to come on holidays, we need to stop the 1970’s thinking about roads being just about getting cars through as fast as possible, and think about all those secondary school students driving themselves to school.
I’ve spoken to a lot of families in Limerick who would love to cycle to work or school, and who would love to leave the car at home and cycle into the market on Saturday morning with the kids. Many don’t because they feel it’s too dangerous. With the right infrastructure we can change that. And once we build it we can extend it out all the way to Raheen Industrial Estate, and start work on a north-south spine between LIT, Caherdavin and Moyross, and Roxboro and Southill.
I’d love to work with anyone I can to make this a reality. Drop me an email (contact details here) if you’re interested in helping, and also check out Limerick Cycling Campaign’s ongoing work to make Limerick a better place for cyclists.
The young people of Limerick who marched demanding action on climate change deserve more than empty platitudes. We owe it to them to get serious about climate change, and to take action to lessen the burden on future generations. It’s shameful that our young people have to march because we as adults have neglected our obligations. With that in mind I’ve jotted down a few things that I think we can do right now here in Limerick, to answer the call from our young people to take action.
Dump the M20
The road between Limerick and Cork does not have enough traffic by European standards to merit a motorway. The M20 would cost a billion euro, money that we would borrow from future generations saddling them not with the bill for a misguided monument to regional aspirations, but the bill of dealing with the increased emissions that would result. The M20 would encourage unsustainable long-distance commuting by private car. We could use some of the money to upgrade the rail service between Limerick and Cork – the first train doesn’t get in to Cork until 9:30 and involves a 40 minute wait at Limerick Junction. To be clear, you cannot credibly support climate action and also support the building of a €1 billion motorway that isn’t needed.
Build houses where kids can walk to school
If you build homes near schools (and shops, workplaces) you give people a choice. You don’t force people into a car. You allow people who can’t afford a car the same access as those who do. We will strengthen our towns, villages and cities by building homes in the centre of them, not in the outskirts. If we are to drastically cut our transport emissions we need to rethink the way we plan communities. Increasing density in the villages of County Limerick will make it easier to provide bus services, fibre broadband, and will make local shops more viable.
Stop car-dependent developments on the outskirts of the city
Limerick and Clare County Councils are planning a “Northern Distributor Road” to open up development north of Limerick City in Clare. UL are planning a “new town” in the fields of south-east Clare. LIT want to convert an abandoned Celtic Tiger shopping centre into a remote campus. These would all be car-dependent, emissions-heavy developments that would hollow out our city and be unserviceable by effective public transport. We’ve lots of free sites in the centre of our city. Let’s use them to build houses, shops, offices and educational facilities.
Expand community-run insulation programmes
Tait House Community Enterprise in Southill is a community-owned social enterprise that does free home insulation upgrades for people receiving certain welfare payments, and provides commercial insulation services for private homeowners, providing jobs and keeping money in the community. We need to find more ways to support organisations like this, giving people warmer homes and more prosperous communities.
Get serious about sustainable transport
The bus service in Limerick is of woeful quality, and although many of us gripe about Bus Éireann, the fact is that we have designed our city to facilitate the private car, and it’s no surprise when buses get delayed for hours in traffic jams. We need to take space away from the car and give it to buses, bikes and boots. A Luas-style service could easily be run between Raheen, city centre and Castletroy, if we reduce traffic lanes and give buses segregated space.
Complete the transition to wind energy
We can no longer justify burning dirty coal for electricity up the Shannon Estuary at Moneypoint. We need to expand windfarms, giving communities ownership so they have a stake, and further reduce our emissions from electricity generation.
Support local food enterprise
Agriculture is a huge source of emissions in Ireland. The main cause of this is a misguided national agriculture policy, but there are still things we can do about it in Limerick. We have some of the best grazing land in the world down this part of the country, and yet much of it is used to produce generic powdered milk for export, some of which is made into breast milk substitute and sold to developing countries. This is emission-intensive, low-value and low-employment agriculture. We can change this by encouraging local food businesses, especially in the dairy sector, to produce high-value desirable products such as cheese. This will provide more income, more local employment, and reduce the emissions per euro earned by agriculture in Limerick.
Listen, and act
The youth of Limerick have spoken in their numbers. We need to listen. They have asked us to act and we need to act. The time for whataboutery and dodging responsibility has gone. Let’s listen to the young people of Limerick and give them a better future, before it’s too late.
I played a small part in the 2018 abortion referendum campaign in Limerick. It was one of the most profound experiences of my life and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to take part. My memories are imperfect, but six months on feels like a good time to get some of them down. They don’t represent a comprehensive account of the referendum campaign in Limerick, just my personal experience.
I attended my first campaign event in February. I was invited to talk about my experiences canvassing for the Marriage Equality referendum three years previously. I don’t think anyone was in any doubt that this was going to be a very different campaign. I was pretty sure we were going to lose. That marriage referendum made waves around the globe but the margin of victory wasn’t exactly emphatic in the end: 62/38. At the start of 2018, the polls showed some indication of support for repealing the eighth amendment, but Irish referenda tend to narrow significantly in the last two weeks of campaigning. Chatting with political friends from various parties I couldn’t find anyone who was remotely confident this was going to pass.
I remember thinking how lonely the campaign was going to be. I was determined to play my own part, to knock on doors and ask voters to show compassion for people in difficult situations. But I certainly couldn’t blame anyone for not wanting to come out on cold evenings to talk with strangers about the termination of pregnancy. It seemed especially cruel to ask women to knock on doors to ask for basic reproductive rights that would be available to them in the majority of countries around the world.
And yes it was small at the start. About six to ten canvassers for the first few nights. Not many canvassers for the third largest city in Ireland. The task felt impossible. We started two months out from the vote because we knew we had a lot of ground to cover. But at that stage in a referendum campaign, many voters aren’t fully engaged, they might only have a vague sense of what they’re going to be asked to vote on, and with a contentious issue like abortion, many were understandably reluctant to discuss it with strangers.
We trudged on. Three political parties had agreed to split the organising of the canvassing in the city into three: Jimi from the Social Democrats organised canvasses in the west of the city, Dave from Labour co-ordinated the east, and with my Green Party hat on I co-ordinated the north city. This involved an inordinate amount of poring over maps and spreadsheets which I think the three of us enjoyed more than we liked to admit, even if we did often find ourselves in the small hours of weekday mornings entering canvass returns or tracing an efficient route through an estate for the next day’s canvass. Members of Sinn Fein and Solidarity also joined us on the canvass. But most of the canvassers in Limerick were not party political and for most it was their first involvement in political action.
Canvassers knocked on the door in pairs, with at least one female in the pair. All canvassers had to attend training. We were as obsessed with not losing votes as much as gaining them. The people of Limerick are a polite and friendly lot, and the majority who answered their doors were lovely. But every canvasser experienced a small amount of uncivility, hostility and rudeness. And without exception our canvassers were polite, calm and dignified in return in response. We were not going to be provoked into losing a single vote. I should add that the vast majority of No voters we met were polite and reasonable. I respected (and still respect) their point of view.
A month into the campaign, numbers had risen a bit, we had gone from three canvasses a week to six. It was clear that this campaign was going to be a lot bigger than we thought. We kept totals of everything, number of doors knocked on, the proportion that answered, the number that were “hard” yeses and nos versus the “softer” voters and the undecideds. I remember the first time we had more than twenty canvassers in the third week when we canvassed Ballynanty, I think that was my first time thinking that this campaign was going to be something really big.
We were blessed with two incredible leaders, our chair Yvie and our deputy chair Jennifer, who worked absolutely tirelessly behind the scenes. They never once sought to be front and centre of the campaign, always wanting to empower others. They made sure a dizzying amount of small things got done, and made sure that we were always focused on the bigger picture. We would not have been half the campaign we ended up being without their leadership, and they taught me some very important lessons about leadership without ego.
There were an army of people behind the scenes too, whose work was often invisible yet vital. Fundraising, social media, volunteer management, designing badges and flyers, canvass organising, messaging and policy, training, much-needed aftercare for canvassers, there were so many jobs that people took on and gave up their evenings and weekends to undertake.
Everyone was stretched to breaking point. Most of us managed to burn out at least once during the campaign. The numbers of amazing people willing to campaign kept rising. We also had a fantastic group canvassing the rural areas. Canvassing with them made me realise that the old clichés of the rural/urban divide on social issues in Ireland was redundant – people in country areas were just as engaged, informed and willing to listen to our arguments.
We also joined up with groups from other counties: we ran a joint canvass with the Clare campaign on the northern outskirts of Limerick, we helped a group in Charleville get started and canvass around South Limerick and North Cork. Paul Bowler from Kerry came up and helped to run training for male canvassers (which we quickly christened “manstraining”, to rhyme with “mansplaining”).
As a group we were from very different backgrounds and age groups, but I think we were similar in surprising ways. Most of us were quiet, and maybe even a bit shy. Most of us were incredibly nervous the first time we went canvassing and very few of us were ‘naturals’ on the doors. Yet I think we were all deeply motivated by a sense of justice and empathy for people in the most difficult of situations.
I can’t imagine how difficult it was for campaigners whose lives had been directly affected by the eighth amendment. Whether they chose to disclose their stories or not, I cannot begin to imagine the courage it took to open up their hearts to strangers, to encourage them to think about people in impossible situations.
We didn’t only just have our own fears to deal with, we had the fears of voters to deal with as well. Fear of sexuality, fear of women, fear of talking about anything that goes on “down there”. The taboos and silence that surround so many aspects of sex and pregnancy. The grief of people who had suffered miscarriages. The voters who found themselves, unexpectedly, talking on their own doorstep about their own abortions, sometimes after decades of silence.
Through it all we trudged on. Over 25,000 doors knocked across Limerick City and County in two months. Hundreds of amazing canvassers, young and old, men and women. At the end we were an army. The last week of the campaign, we almost ran out of areas to cover. We organised a leaflet drop of every door in the Limerick City constituency. For the last day of the campaign, I took the day off work with my friend Niamh to cover the few corners of the county that we hadn’t reached, starting at 9am and 30,000 steps later finishing half-way up a mountain at the opposite end of the county at 7pm.
Of course we won, after the profound shock of the exit poll, which nobody quite believed. Some people even tried to claim that the result was a foregone conclusion. But in Limerick, like around the country, we knew it was a victory hard-won, by the some of most incredible people I’ve ever met.
I am deeply thankful to all the repealers in Limerick for the privilege of being able to campaign with them.
I want to write down properly my memories of the campaign to repeal the 8th amendment sometime. It was an exhausting, yet special time. I met a huge amount of wonderful people, some of whom I’m quite sure I will be friends with for life. But right now, nearly three months after our historic victory, it’s time to think about what’s next. And for me, the answer begins with politics. I’m one of those (possibly naïve!) people who believes in the power of politics. Those of us involved in the Repeal campaign who were members of political parties may have been vastly outnumbered by those who weren’t. But I believe we were involved in a fundamentally political activity: changing the minds of voters.
Less than 20% of Limerick’s councillors are women (the Dáil has a roughly similar proportion of women). Possibly related to this statistic: many of our councillors are not doing a good job at working towards an ambitious and inclusive Limerick. If I can do anything with what political experience I’ve gained through the years, I’d like to help get a woman elected to Limerick Council.
The good news is that I’ve found an amazing candidate to support for election in Limerick City: someone who is serious about the very serious task of representing voters: someone who is willing to work hard for families in our city and who wants to do their bit in bequeathing a better city to future generations. And even though I can’t say who she is at this stage because of the need for Green Party selection conventions and other procedures, I’m excited at the prospect of doing what I can to help her meet with and listen to the voters of Limerick.
Why write about this now when I can’t say who the candidate is? One reason is that I wrote pieces very early on about why I got involved in the Marriage Equality and Repeal the 8th campaigns as well as the last general election: getting my thoughts down was helpful early on before the maelstrom of the campaign took over. And the second reason: maybe you’d like to help. Political campaigns don’t always just reflect the minds of voters: as the Repeal the 8th campaign showed, sometimes they can change them. Being involved at the start of a campaign, when numbers are still small, can be a really special thing. We need more women in politics, and we need better representation in Limerick if we want a better city. If you feel the same, and you’re also wondering what’s next after Repeal, I’d love to work with you. And if maybe you’d prefer not to work with me, or you support a different political party, the good news is that most political parties will be running at least one female candidate in Limerick. I’m sure they, like us, would be very grateful for your help.
Thanks to everyone who helped with the tally. The tally for Limerick City is also available.
Results are also available as a CSV file.
|Galbally Community Centre1||138||102||57.5%||42.5%|
|Galbally Community Centre2||157||107||59.5%||40.5%|
|Ardpatrick Community Centre||140||124||53.0%||47.0%|
|Kilmallock Girls N.S.1||313||154||67.0%||33.0%|
|Kilmallock Girls N.S.2||191||140||57.7%||42.3%|
|Kilmallock Girls N.S.3||137||113||54.8%||45.2%|
|Kilmallock Girls N.S.4|
|Dromin Comm. Centre||155||125||55.4%||44.6%|
|Pallasgreen Comm. Centre1||175||146||54.5%||45.5%|
|Pallasgreen Comm. Centre2||116||106||52.3%||47.7%|
|Hospital New School1||107||66||61.8%||38.2%|
|Hospital New School2||197||152||56.4%||43.6%|
|Meanus Community Centre||220||128||63.2%||36.8%|
|Ballingarry Boys NS1||177||126||58.4%||41.6%|
|Ballingarry Boys NS2||155||100||60.8%||39.2%|
|Rathkeale Girls NS1|
|Rathkeale Girls NS2|
|Rathkeale Girls NS3||115||146||44.1%||55.9%|
|Coolcappa Comm. Centre1||170||102||62.5%||37.5%|
|Coolcappa Comm. Centre2|
|Fedamore Community Centre1||189||111||63.0%||37.0%|
|Fedamore Community Centre2||149||114||56.7%||43.3%|
|Cappagh (Nantinan) NS||228||180||55.9%||44.1%|
|Templeglantine Comm Hall||267||200||57.2%||42.8%|
|Gin Halla Ceol Corbri1||224||167||57.3%||42.7%|
|Gin Halla Ceol Corbri2||193||195||49.7%||50.3%|
|Knockaderry Comm Hall||155||128||54.8%||45.2%|
|Courtenay Boys NS1||236||157||60.1%||39.9%|
|Courtenay Boys NS2||138||90||60.5%||39.5%|
|Courtenay Boys NS3||226||152||59.8%||40.2%|
|Courtenay Boys NS4||144||87||62.3%||37.7%|
|Scoil Iosaf NCW1||212||154||57.9%||42.1%|
|Scoil Iosaf NCW2||281||203||58.1%||41.9%|
|Scoil Iosaf NCW3||256||128||66.7%||33.3%|
We’re just starting week 4 of the Limerick Together for Yes campaign and it’s going great. We have canvasses 5 nights a week and stalls in town at the weekend. The people of Limerick have been warm and welcoming and open to our message.
But there’s been an absence from the campaign. An absence of men.
Here’s a photo from one of our canvasses in Limerick. Only one man, and he travelled in from Clare that night (you’re a legend Ronan!). We urgently need to correct this gender imbalance. Although we’re campaigning for a woman’s right to choose, we shouldn’t just leave it to women to make the ask to change the constitution. By standing with our sisters we can show our support and solidarity, and help knock on as many doors as possible to ensure safe healthcare for women who are pregnant.
I’m running a men’s training session on Wednesday 11th April at 7pm in the Absolut Hotel with the legendary Paul Bowler from Kerry. Our goal is to ensure all men attending will feel more confident and prepared when engaging with members of the public/friends/family/partners in discussions about the campaign to repeal the 8th. To come along, just email [email protected] – and while you’re at it you can sign up as a volunteer on the Repeal LK website.
Women of Limerick are knocking on doors asking their fellow citizens for control over their own bodies. As men, the least we can do to help is to stand with them.
I’d like to see the eighth amendment removed from the Irish constitution. I feel strongly enough that I’m going to be out knocking on doors and campaigning as much as I can on this referendum.
In some ways I’m completely unqualified to have an opinion on this, let alone go out campaigning on it. I’m a straight white man in his late thirties. I’ve been married for 11 years, but my wife and I can’t and won’t have children. I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone less qualified to write or speak about women’s reproductive rights than me. Yet it is precisely for that reason that I want to stand with women who are campaigning for this referendum.
I am an incredibly lucky person. I am a straight, white male. I was born in a relatively rich country. I received a good education, most of it free of charge. I am a beneficiary of most of the structural inequality in this country, because I am on the winning side of it. I live in a country where women are paid less, where people who grow up in disadvantaged families are themselves more likely to suffer disadvantage as adults, etc. etc. And (bear with me!) sometimes that’s difficult. It’s not my individual fault, right? I’m doing the best I can to be a decent person, occasionally succeeding, and while I didn’t create my genetic, historical and social good luck I can’t really do anything to reverse it either. But I can empathise, and imagine. Imagine what it is like to not have the rights and privileges that I enjoy by accident. And, in particular, imagine what it might be like to have the fricking constitution inserting itself between me and my doctor on what is the best for my health, life and well-being.
It is just awful that Irish women not only have had to put up with an incredibly draconian reproductive rights regime, but that, over the next two-and-a-bit months, they have to go out to the Irish people and ask and say please. Ask and say please for rights that they would enjoy in almost every other developed country.
I think it is time for Irish men like me, with our privilege and our luck and our sorry-but-what-can-you-do demeanour to stand up. Stand beside the women who are campaigning for control over their own bodies. Stand up and say please to the Irish voters who will ultimately decide on their rights.
If you’re lucky like me, then I hope you’ll join me. I’m involved in Repeal LK, the local campaign in Limerick to repeal the 8th amendment. There are similar campaigns starting up all around the country. I somewhat gingerly came to the first few meetings, not sure if I’d be welcome to join the fight, and worried that I might say the wrong thing. I met a group of funny smart courageous people, mostly women, who are operating with no funding, affiliated to a national campaign which is also short of people, time and money. I was welcomed, and educated, and encouraged. We have an introductory event in Limerick on Monday March 12th. Maybe you could canvass, fundraise, or even just donate. It’s going to be a tough campaign. All support will be gratefully appreciated.
I know there are many people, some of whom are my friends, who disagree with my views on abortion, and I want to do my best to respect those views. I’m sure what I’ve written here may sound tone-deaf, patronising or even insulting to women. I know I’ve a lot to learn.
With rights and privilege come a responsibility to fight for those without. Offering to help out in this referendum campaign may not atone for the rights and privilege that I have been gifted, but it feels like a start. If you’re lucky, like me, you’d be very welcome to come and put your shoulder to the wheel.
Today there was a story in the Irish Times, headlined ‘Bruton wants lessons in coding for primary school pupils’, announcing that the Irish Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, was considering the introduction of programming into the national curriculum for primary schools.
I’m passionate about programming. I run a software company. I program in my spare time, for fun. I co-organised a hackathon in Limerick with the sole purpose of programming for fun with other people for an entire day. I am a host on a podcast with two other programmers where we talk about, among other things, programming. I’ve also spent some time teaching maths and science in secondary school. And I am convinced that the idea of teaching primary school children to program during the school day is nonsense.
The assertion by tech companies that they can’t find programmers is a myth
The Irish Times articles cites lobbying by some tech companies that they can’t find good people. This is a complete myth, a combination of (a) tech companies not wanting to pay programmers decent wages (b) tech companies being really bad at recruitment and (c) tech companies not being willing to take graduates on and help them develop appropriate modern programming skills. I recruited a graduate developer two years ago for my company Reg Point of Sale, and I came across countless IT graduates who still couldn’t find a job six months after graduating, because all the job adverts were looking for 2 years experience. If tech companies would spend their own money investing in people, rather than whining at the government to spend our money, they wouldn’t have a problem.
It’s also worth noting that even if the plaintive cries about a skills shortage from the tech industry were true, it’s not clear how teaching a bunch of eight year-olds how to write for loops would help.
Teaching programming would require a huge continued capital investment
Compulsory programming on the primary school curriculum would be incredibly expensive. I’m sure some of these tech companies are salivating at the prospect of juicy hardware, software and support contracts, involving proprietary solutions that will obsolete quickly.
We will be teaching skills that will be obsolete by the time these kids graduate
Take the average ten year-old in primary school: the twelve years that will pass before this kid graduates from college is an aeon away in tech terms – especially in programming languages. The concept that a primary school kid could learn skills now that would be useful to the tech industry in twelve years time is not consistent with the rapid change associated with tech and programming.
We could actually end up with less people in tech
Consider a child who has a natural aptitude for problem solving and logical thinking that suggests they might enjoy programming. But what if the teacher doesn’t have a strong grasp of the material, or the myriad of other reasons why a young child might not have a good experience learning a difficult technical craft like programming. Suddenly this child gets it into their head that ‘programming is hard’ or ‘not for them’, even though if they had been exposed to it at a later age, they might have found some of the joy that some of us derive from programming.
We do need investment in primary education, but in things that are useful to a child’s development
If the Minister for Education has some spare cash burning a hole in his pocket, it’s not as if other priorities don’t exist – for example investing in teaching core literacy and numeracy in primary school which has only marginally improved in 35 years, or doing something to attacking the unconscionable difference in education outcomes for kids from poorer backgrounds compared to those from more comfortable backgrounds.
Programming is great and you should try it right now!
Adults have infinitely more problems that can be solved by simple computer programs than children do. So why don’t you pick up Learn Python the Hard Way, and if you get through that, start on Automate the Boring Stuff with Python. If you’re lucky you’ll experience an enormous thrill as the computer starts to do your bidding. Maybe the Minister himself might try his hand at a few if statements while considering whether to foist this stuff on our nation’s children.
I think programming is a great thing to learn. Just not for all primary school kids during the school day. I hope the Minister reconsiders his plan.
Like others, I’ve spent the last week in shock over the UK’s vote to leave the EU. I was born and raised in Ireland but my parents are British, and I have lots family and friends over the water. I was just so gutted and saddened when the Leave result was announced early in the morning. In fact the next day I drove over to South Wales to exhibit my Reg point of sale app. Staying for a few days in a part of the UK knowing that the majority of people around me wanted to Leave was just depressing.
Over the last few days, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been making brave attempts to ‘keep Scotland in the EU’ – but even if there was another independence referendum, it’s difficult to see how Scotland can Remain. Spain will always veto any attempt to admit what they would view as a ‘sub-nation’ to the EU because of concerns about Catalonia’s independence ambitions. Meanwhile over in Ireland we are worried about an uncertain future.
But for those of you in these isles who are full of despondency: don’t worry. I have a plan.
(Your post-Brexit despondency will be lifted if you sing along with the headings. Trust me.)
A country that’s part-British but without the xenophobia
What if Ireland formed a union with Northern Ireland and Scotland, which would then enjoy continued membership of the EU by inheriting Ireland’s seat? We could be one nation together, with significantly devolved powers as currently exist in the Stormont, Holyrood administrations, complemented by a new devolved administration for Dublin. We’d have to have a new federal parliament for HibernoCaledonia, probably in Belfast.
With one stroke we could solve the political status of Northern Ireland. Unionists would not be smothered by a perfidious South intent on dismantling their culture. Nationalists would see a ‘nation once again’, just with an extra bit added on.
If we joined together we’d be bigger than Bulgaria
Population of the Republic of Ireland: 4.6m
Population of Northern Ireland: 1.8m
Population of Scotland: 5.3m
Total population of HibernoCaledonia: 11.7m
HibernoCaledonia would have a GDP of over $567bn, making us the 35th largest economy in the world by that measure. We would be the headquarters of some impressive international companies such as Ryanair and Royal Bank of Scotland, and the new country would be able to challenge for significant inward investment. We would be the pro-European powerhouse of North-Western Europe, showing the world that internationalism and tolerance is still alive and well in these isles.
I know it sounds like a joke but I’m deadly serious. Our three countries face an immense threat with the prospect of Brexit. In our own ways, we would all benefit from the more pluralistic administration that a union would bring. It would put to bed once and for all the Northern Ireland question, which otherwise will continually threaten the peaceful future of the province. The Remain side were right, we are Stronger In. Let’s join our hands and work for a shared European future.