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The Importance of being Ulster

Robert K Campbell, Ulster Society Publications Lurgan 1995: ISBN 1-872076-21-1, £1.00.

THE STARTLING SUB-TITLE of this pamphlet is `Northern Ireland has no future'! I would not like to try to sell this at a parade with that legend on the cover. The author means that the United Kingdom province of Northern Ireland has no future and only an independent Ulster state can survive. Such subtleties can be lost on potential customers! Some folk thought that Ulster Nation was a pro-Sinn Féin magazine because of Issue 10's cover which featured a pointed pistol with the caption "`Stand and Deliver' - Sinn Féin's true mandate". It did not seem to strike these folk that Sinn Féiners are not too likely to go around selling magazines at an Apprentice Boys demonstration! People sometimes have a remarkable tendency to miss the obvious, never mind the subtle! That said, this wee booklet is a terrific polemical argument for Ulster independence. It is quite different in tone from the excellent book by Paul A Fitzsimmons which we review elsewhere but none the worse for it. Mr Campbell is aiming at reaching the man in the street and this work is accordingly priced.

He argues that the British Tory government has gradually lost the will to maintain the Union. Mayhew's remark to a reporter for the German Zeit in April 1993, `Many people think that we won't let Northern Ireland out of the kingdom. If I'm honest - with pleasure.' One of John Major's advisors is quoted by The Economist in November 1993 as saying, `If the Northern Irish voted 51-49 to join the republic, we'd be the first to cheer. So would practically every sane Englishman. Good riddance.' Since then we have seen the revelations of secret talks with the IRA, the Downing Street Declaration and the Framework document. As the author points out, while the PIRA murder campaign in Ulster itself has not succeeded - `the Protestant people are unbowed' - their campaigns in England have been a triumphant success. As one anonymous Tory MP put it, `Those who care get killed.' - a reference to Airey Neave and Ian Gow. There is no commitment to Ulster among the Anglo-British ruling classes. The Provo bombs in the City of London served to convince them that Ulster is a millstone around their neck and best disposed of - without being seen to give into terrorism of course.

The author points out that there is no evidence that the IRA in mid-1994 felt itself to be a defeated force. The IRA leadership's only reason for declaring their cease-fire is that they expect to win more effectively this way. Sinn Féin will continue to make its escalating series of outrageous demands which at first Westminster will not concede. 'One can anticipate that Dublin will, while saying that they agree with London on these matters, persistently push for lesser, more `reasonable' concessions which will accumulate and eventually lead to the destruction of Northern Ireland.' The author's anticipation in the light of subsequent events is spot-on

Mr Campbell argues that the only way out of this crisis is to do away with the province of Northern Ireland and establish the 'sovereign independent kingdom of Ulster' with a reduced area. `The present international boundary does not reflect the real border - the cultural border.' This would be an area composed of Antrim, Down, most of Londonderry, north and central Armagh and parts of Tyrone and Fermanagh - an area of some 7,000km. The population would be only around 900,000 with a stable Protestant majority of around 82%. How such a repartition could be achieved is not mentioned. The author suggests that it will 'either be through peaceful negotiation or as a result of an Ulster War of National Liberation.' I sincerely hope that the latter will not prove necessary. There are some novel arguments in this small pamphlet which I have never seen before. It is often said that an independent Ulster would have to join the EC and would be unable to survive outside it. Campbell points out that since the liberalisation of trade under the new World Trade Organisation no country needs to belong to a trading bloc to survive. This argument certainly deserves closer examination. He also dismisses the perceived threat of US military intervention in an independent Ulster as unlikely. This may be the case as far as direct involvement is concerned but it would not rule out the US sponsoring the IRA like the Contras in Nicaragua or USAF airstrikes. The best chapter for me is the one on the name of our country. The official name `Northern Ireland' confuses foreigners who assume that Northern Ireland is actually northern Ireland - a part of the Republic under British military occupation. `Northern Ireland' suggests a geographical area of the Republic of Ireland, and `North Ireland' would suggest a separate country but the same people, 'Ulster' clearly proclaims both a separate country and a separate people. `The Irish grasp the danger of `Ulster' to their imperialist aims. Hence their attempts to deny the validity of the name with their propaganda about `the ancient nine county province of Ulster' arguing that only that territory could be called Ulster. However, frontiers can change over time. The present state of India does not embrace all the territory of British India. Hungary is a lot smaller than it was prior to 1919. No-one seriously disputes these states' rights to retain their ancient names. Not only the present six-county state but also Mr Campbell's rump state would still be entitled to call itself Ulster. There is a lot of useful arguments in the little pamphlet and the Ulster Society are to be congratulated for publishing it. We hope that it will get the wide circulation it richly deserves given its low price and that it galvanises a strengthened and renewed Ulster independence movement.

For an alternative review of this pamphlet from an English loyalist point of view, please follow this link.

David Kerr

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