British Irish Equality

by Gregory Campbell MP

One of the buzz words in recent years has been equality. Not that it wasn’t fashionable previously but it has taken on a whole new emphasis when used in political circles. It’s always good when used in a campaign. Irish Republicans are of course black belts holders in this particular martial art. They begin by asserting that they have been victimised and the only way out of their victimhood is for equality to reign supreme. When protesting for civil rights it was ‘only for equal rights’ they cried. When the IRA finally laid down their weapons Adams and McGuinness claimed that they could then campaign on the political stage ‘for equality’. It reached the heights of absurdity when McGuinness demanded that his title of Deputy first Minister had to have a capital ‘F’ in first Minister as it denoted, yes you’ve guessed it “equality”.

The problem that republicans and nationalists have is that they are content when this operates in one direction only but not so when, as the very essence of the name suggests, it has to operate for more than just them. They demand that the President of the Irish Republic should visit Northern Ireland as she frequently does, we as Unionists now await the visit of Queen Elizabeth to the Irish Republic. The two admittedly are not entirely comparable as the Queen’s official title does not suggest she is the head of State of the Republic unlike the President whose grandiose title suggests she is the President of “Ireland”, but still, some progress towards equality is better than none.

Then we have the matter of citizenship. Anyone born in Northern Ireland be they Nationalist, Republican or anyone else for that matter can avail of an Irish Republic Passport. However those living in Northern Ireland who were born in the Republic since 1949 cannot avail of a British Passport. This means that people wanting to exercise their right to being Irish who weren’t born in the Republic and don’t live in it have that right, but people wanting the right to be British and live in the United Kingdom cannot do so without the laborious and expensive task of applying for naturalization. I have raised this issue in the House of Commons on a number of occasions previously and have recently raised it again with the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

In the Irish Republic itself there are those who do not see themselves as Irish as many there would define it, but see themselves as British/Irish because of the centuries of intertwining population movements and similar social characteristics which exist, can they not demand, in the interests of Equality a British Passport if they so desire it?
There are some who have tried the tactic of changing the definition of Irishness in order that some naïve Unionists in Northern Ireland might change their attitude from being British to being this “new Irish”. I think their time would be better spent opening their eyes to the 60 million people they share these islands with, and allowing those in the Republic who wish to identify themselves with the Britishness that exists throughout these islands the freedom and EQUALITY to do so.

British Irish Equality is taken from Faith & Liberty Magazine issue 1