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Irish Worldview

What are the implications for Ireland of Scotland’s referendum?

Interesting Irish perspective on the referendum and the consequences for Ireland with Mark Hennessy and Paul Gillespie. “No matter how it goes, according to our analysts, the implications will be significant. Worldview is a foreign affairs podcast presented by the deputy editor of the Irish Times, Denis Staunton.”

You can download Paul Gillespie’s paper ‘Scotland’s Vote on Independence – The Implications for Ireland’ here.

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  1. Mick Fealty says:


    Good spot. But there’s not much short term good news from the Irish experience of referenda. Emotionally Yes is winning the battle, but it is losing the IndyRef war.

    Uncertainty kills any positive proposal for change in a referendum. Look at the latest Seanad abolition referendum? 72 per cent yes in spring, 51.73% no to 48.27% yes in the autumn.

    If there is a silver lining for the SNP, Scots will not like being ‘forced’ to vote for the Union under such negative influence. I’m not saying it will become as distrusted as the Catholic Church has become in ireland, but there are lessons there if anyone in the Yes camp dares confront them.

    But for all the burgeoning popularity of the SNP as a governing party, getting out of the Uk is a damned sight more complicated than it looks.

    Scotland may well have the cash flow to keep it going once independence is attained, but the entrance fee into the broader community of nations may prove a damned sight (banking is your problem, not oil) more ruinous than anyone previously considered.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Thanks Mick. Interesting comparison with the Seanad referendum. Certainly a NO victory based on fear lies and propaganda will be unstable. It will be difficult for the Unionist parties to spend two years denigrating their country and then pop up asking for support in an election. To do what? However I’m not as pessimistic as you – take a look at recent polling trends.

    2. Walte Masson says:

      Mick you better not underestimate the scottish voters, when being made a fool of , by 2 of the biggest clowns that has ever came onta this planet , and come out and say you cant do this or that , when all the time there only interested in what they can steal from us , weve been dictated by them torries for decades , and come away with ye cana use our pound, nows the time ta break free, this sma country is a gold mine in wealth ?, But we cant have politicans like them at westminster that only thinks about how much ta ge ta other countries and the eu, trade with whoever wants ta america france spain germany any where in the world that will take oor goods and get back what that morons gave away with oot our consent like our fishing worth billions, which would generate thousands of jobs of all trades factories, secretaries ,lorry drivers .etc all we have ta de is vote yes ???

      1. Mick Fealty says:

        I don’t have a vote Walte. I’m just saying the Irish experience suggests that the Noes will harden, and Yeses subside. What may counterbalance that is the self evident commitment of the Noes.

        The re-runs of the Nice and particular Lisbon referendums arose from the blatantly known unknowns of what has actually in each treaty rather than any ingrained Euroscepticism.

        In short you need to be seven or eight lengths ahead for Yes right now to stand a realistic chance of winning. But then again, maybe ‘the win’ is to maximise the turnout for No with the political follow through for the SNP in mind.

      2. Mick Fealty says:

        I meant self evident commitment of the Yeses, of course.

  2. Abulhaq says:

    Nothing new in the podcast that has not been labored ad nauseam here. An element of tedious repetition has already crept into the argumentation concerning independence. What this whole thing lacks is spontaneity and “fire”. The British political process could turn the sun cold with its mundanity. If this referendum fails it will be because the so-called “animators” have turned the campaign lifeless and boring. The self-referential UK political class has a lot to answer for, as a consequence we have a lot to unlearn. Scotland will be a people’s democracy not a Westminster style parliamentary one. The natural home of such a democracy is the street and the public square.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Good comment – I can guarantee that there’s some fire and soul coming along soon : )

  3. JGedd says:

    Listened to the Irish broadcast and the English one and found that the English contributors get it and are wholly supportive, whereas the Irish – I suppose, being journalists – sound very much like the UK establishment in their perspective. Anyway, I don’t think that the Irish establishment is particularly favourable to Scottish independence – too embedded with the English financial system. I seem to remember also, wasn’t it Bertie Aherne as Taoiseach who came to Scotland to declaim – at the invitation of Labour in Scotland – that Scotland could not be independent like Eire? ( Can’t remember exactly when, but it was during the Lib/Lab coalition in Holyrood.)

    I wouldn’t expect the Irish Times to be particularly sympathetic to Scottish independence anyway, though the effect it might have on NI has obviously got them musing.

  4. Niall na Naoi nGiallach says:

    The Irish media is like the Scottish media – overwhelmingly Anglocentric. It’s partly due to the Troubles, but there are virtually no nationalist commentators in the Irish newspapers while there are numerous Unionists, misty-eyed Royalists and rapid anti-republicans, eg Kevin Myers, Davy Adams, Mary Kelly, Eoghan Harris, Eilis Hanlon, John Paul McCarthy and others.

    Scottish independence is their ultimate nightmare as it would put the final nail in their fantasy or returning to Mother England’s rule.

    Not saying the Hennessy and Gillespie are like that but that’s the general miliue they’re.

    1. Niall na Naoi nGiallach says:

      PS the pro-British view of the Irish media is in no way representative of the Irish people.

  5. Mick Fealty says:

    I think we can agree to disagree on that one Mike, but as I’m sure you understand I don’t come to that conclusion lightly.

    Yet I think you put your finger one where the longer term gold is for the SNP is buried. The post campaign position for Labour (the Tories needn’t look too far beyond filching a few Lib Dem seats) in particular is going to leave them with little space to move onto after the Referendum.

    I’ve long felt that Scotland will be out of the UK long before NI, primarily because the SNP have understood (deeply in the case of Salmond) the importance of straddling the culture problem if they want to join the broader community of nations.

    On this occasion, the road is blocked by finance (currency is fecking huge block in Ireland too). But that can, if there is a will to do it, be dealt with over time. Personally, I would have preferred a pitch for Devo Max before Independence in order to deal effectively with the structural problems first.

    At least this way it will crystallize what needs to be worked on next.

    In Ireland, a Yes will hugely energise SF in the north and to a lesser extent in the south. But as Gillespie points out, the real anxiety in the Republic is the potential for the English up and leave the EU.

    That would harden the land border in a way we haven’t seen since before the Troubles (and it would further complicate an already near intractable problem for constitutional Irish nationalists).

    A Yes vote may help reconfigure the long game by opening up a new conceptual political space, but the basic problem for Irish nats remains; ie, the lack of trust that endures amongst Ulster Protestants after the thirty years of the IRA trying to smash their fingers off the British state.

    A No? Well it depends how close it comes. A clear rejection will be hard to recycle as a demand for a Border Poll (which by legislation is a political decision for the SoS which can only be triggered if there is a positive outcome is likely). Close and we will get a renewal of SF’s currently silent campaign.

    If you can unlock the road to independence, I think that will open the road to unification. But like unification I think the pragmatic blocks remain considerable and devilishly intricate. Sledgehammer politics, I suspect, won’t help in either case.

  6. Iain says:

    Reading Paul Gillespie’s paper, I was startled to notice that in the very first paragraph of the introduction he writes that with its landslide victory in the election of 2011, the SNP had ‘no option’ but to hold a referendum on independence, as it had promised in its manifesto – and these words are repeated toward the end of the paper.

    They seem to betray a profound misunderstanding on the part of the author: that the SNP did not really want a referendum, that it does not really want independence for Scotland. I have to say that this is quite extraordinary: it is as though the author has no knowledge of the SNP, its supporters, the independence cause over the past half-century, or of Scottish politics. Granted, his focus is on Ireland, but part of his task is to understand the political force which will bring about the change which concerns him.

  7. CW says:

    I read some of the coverage of the referendum this past week in the Irish Times and I have to say that I was not impressed. It was very much written from a London establishment perspective.

    1. Iain says:

      Cw & Niall na Naoi nGiallach
      I’m not familiar with the Irish media but I’ll take your word for the unionist sentiment within it – which I think must be an indulgent posture which is safe to adopt because there is no possibility of Ireland returning to rule from London. Other than the sentiment, I suppose there are two other factors: an understandable bit of sniffy one-upmanship because Ireland rejected that rule a hundred years ago, and also, more seriously, the apprehension that an independent Scotland would be, for the Republic, a formidable economic rival.

      1. Mick Fealty says:

        I don’t agree at all. International relations for small countries are as much about developing synergies as competitive relations. In fact it is probably true to say that Dublin has bought into the relationship with London much more than with Belfast.

        I see that as a failure as much on Belfast’s part as Dublin’s. It’s where Dublin’s focus has been since Fianna Fail were kicked to political touch three years ago. From an economic point of view it’s never in just over 90 years been able to resist the gains from our biggest single trading partner.

        Small scale relations have to be invested in, and in the case of Edinburgh and Belfast, Dublin has little time resources or even mindspace to give to those relations when London retains such an enormous economic pull.

        On the Scotland to Ireland thing, Bank of Scotland Ireland was a promising enterprise but it was also one of the very first foreign banks to jump ship when the financial crisis hit. Possibly through a strong presence of Celtic Football Club, Scotland has a strong cultural footprint in Dublin.

        According to a poll nearly ten years ago, Scotland was the most favoured region of the UK amongst young southerners with 63% favourable mentions. Northern Ireland got just 23%. 44% said they’d visited Scotland, to just 35% who’d been to Northern Ireland (BandA: http://goo.gl/X7mtk).

        I think there’s something worth investing in there, but it seems to me that independence is no guarantee that either country will be able to slough off the huge cultural and economic gravity that London will continue to exert on both.

  8. Firmly Yes says:

    In the history of the world there has never been a no vote in an independence referendum, and I don’t doubt that when the times comes the Scottish voters will follow their hearts and put a cross in the yes box.
    We just need to keep exposing the no camps lies until then.

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