Scotland’s right to self determination

Posted By: September 09, 2014


Irish Times Editorial
Monday, September 8, 2014
Some time in the early hours of Friday week the tallies from Scotland’s 32 electoral
areas will be aggregated in Edinburgh, and a result will emerge. With a weekend poll
showing a narrow majority for independence there is now a strong possibilityScotland
will vote to break up the union in the most dramatic constitutional earthquake in
the United Kingdom since our 26 counties went their own way in 1922. An upheaval
that would shake up not only Scottish politics, but those of the rest of the UK:
from the internal dynamics of the divided Tories, threatening the prime minister’s
own position, to the galvanising of demands for radical regional devolution, to an
unsettling of the Westminster-Stormont and London-Dublin relationships.

It is to be hoped that, at First Minister Alex Salmond’s side on Friday week in
Edinburgh, if the Yes materialises, will be our Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Charlie Flanagan, first to shake his hand and congratulate him. First to promise
fullest diplomatic recognition and political support for the new state from its
first international ally, one that has been down this road, which understands the
enormity of the challenge, but which can say with confidence “been there, done that
. . . and it’s not by any means impossible, whatever they say” .

Ireland has been reluctant, despite its history and what one might suppose to be an
instinctive sense of shared experience and vocation, openly to support that Yes
campaign. In part that reluctance is driven by an understandable and perhaps
justifiable wish not to be accused of meddling in the UK’s internal affairs. In part
it is the product of an unstated calculation that our interests would not be best
served by independence: concern about a new competitor for inward investment and the
increased likelihood that the rest of the UK would leave the EU, concern that the
now-comfortable Dublin-London relationship would be upset . . .

Despite such reservations on our part, Dublin should be prepared at least to say,
based on our experience – not least 50 years of currency union with the UK – that
independence can indeed be good for Scotland. We should applaud enthusiastically the
reach of the extraordinary debate that has touched every corner of the country, and
support an independent Scotland’s right to be part of the EU. To that end we can
promise to work to forge the same political will among EU states that enabled German
reunification against countless technical and political objections.

It may not be easy. It may be costly in terms of a new administration, duplication
of institutions, and over-optimistic assessments of economic resources. And
sovereignty in this interconnected globalised world can never be absolute. But
Scotland’s desire to forge its own direction should be supported.