In July 2020, Grassroots Oban organised a meeting with Dr Paul Gillespie of University College Dublin. He is a former foreign affairs editor at the Irish Times. At University College Dublin he focusses on research looking at the changing face of Irish / UK relations, especially post-Brexit, the effect of Brexit in Northern Ireland, and the shape of a future Irish Reunification referendum.
You can listen to Paul here:
To give you an idea of what he covered:
Scotland and Ireland Now and the Drivers of Constitutional Change?
- dual sovereignty crisis external with EU, driven internally by elements of UK and now coming to ahead stoked by Brexit
- the drivers of change in context Brexit
- possible scenarios for constitutional change in Uk
- what’s going on in Unionism and Unionists throughout UK but particularly in NI; the need in Ireland to understand this more clearly
- asymmetry of power between EU and UK was clear in NI negotiations about the border. UK is now engaging in disruptive activity about that now.
Where UK / Ireland futures intersect
- bringing NI out of EU opens up debate on unification of ireland
- if devolution becomes dysfunctional and also given leaving EU then unification becomes a preferred option over devolved power.
- small citizens assembly were in in 2015 in NI asking for constitutional views, including alternate shaped for a unified Ireland. That is being replicated in Dublin shortly.
- Borders politics in Ireland is going to impact hugely on Scotland in any independence negotiations
Potential unification from Eire’s point of view
- its been rather abstract, tokenism historically
- now made concrete post Brexit
- pace of events may be quite rapid now. Sein Fhein drive that agenda in Eire and they want a Unification preparatory approach made for that with citizens assemblies, even a ministry for unification. Other parties have adopted a more gradualist shared Ireland approach, repairing Good Friday Agreement institutions, prior to any discussion about unity.
- there is an awareness in Ireland that the Irish situation may be affected by dynamics and events in Scotland.
- interim report from UCL available on their website
- referendums, borders and EU membership are increasingly mutual concerns for Scotland, NI and Eire.
Since Dr Gillespie’s talk to Grassroots Oban, he has been a guest with Glasgow Pensioners for Independence. My favourite question to him was
Can you give us any tips on how to deal with Perfidious Albion? you’ve plenty of experience with them after all.Question to Paul Gillespie from Glasgow Pensioners for Independence
You can listen to that discussion here: A Constitutional Moment for Change?
Note: These are the kind of programmes that I used to make for IndyLive Radio. And originally this was a blog post I wrote to promote the Oban meeting. I’ve since left the radio, and have now set up and am part of IndyLive Podcasters. We make the same type of content but using video and podcasts and we’re reaching many times more people than we did at IndyLive Radio. You can read more about IndyLive Podcasters here : Podcasters R Us