Ireland: United it stands?
There’s prosperity in Londonderry, Belfast and in so many of Northern Ireland’s towns and villages that throughout the Troubles was for ever absent.
Derry itself has an air of confidence as it bids to become a ‘City of Culture’.
Amid the joy on the Derry streets yesterday, the applause from a Nationalist crowd for a British Conservative Prime Minister as he apologised for one of the worst collisions between people, army and the state to have occurred in any Western Democracy in our time, I found myself asking a question.
What I have seen in more than thirty years of coming here has been the development of a burgeoning, educated, wealth creating middle class.
A class that in past times in the Nationalist community you only found replicated south of the border.
But today ‘south of the border’, has an altogether novel air.
It is an air of dispossession, unemployment and flight to other countries to deploy the skills that once fuelled the Celtic Tiger Economy. The balance has tipped.
The question now is whether the thrusting nationalist middle Class – offered the unthinkable – whether to stay with the Union, or two join the Republic of Ireland would actually vote ‘yes’.
Culturally, Derry and the other urban concentrations of Nationalists are Irish. But socio-economically they bask in the pound sterling – glancing south at Euro zone suffering cuts, deprivation and hardship as bankrupt Ireland battles to surface from the crash.
Despite the discovery of Cameron, there is no love affair with London, but for now, not only are the Northern Irish more at peace with themselves, they are at peace with where they are.
On the fringes of a Britain, that even when the cuts come, will fund them more generously that the south ever could.
It’s an intriguing conundrum and in this moment in their turbulent history it’s hard to divine when if ever, the majority will ever opt to become part of a United Ireland.