There’s great talk these days and crunching of numbers in relation to the new census results in the north of Ireland. Mostly it is being portrayed as the beginning of the end of the control of the North by and for Protestants—and a forlorn hope for the “united Ireland at any cost” brigade. And to some extent that may be true. But it is an extremely shallow analysis.
It’s interesting to note that the census does not include a section on class. If it did, would it inform better and expose the real make-up of society, which is carefully hidden?
The issue, therefore, needs to be properly put into context. Why was Ireland colonised and Protestants planted in the country in the first place? For British imperialist interests, based on the capitalist and class system. And further, why was Ireland partitioned in the 1920s? And what was the 1922 counter-revolution about? All for the very same imperialist reasons. And that very reason is the only way to measure the potential consequences and outcome of the recent census results—that is, from an imperialist and class viewpoint.
Protestants, who were made to feel a “special people” in the British plans, were used too. Many middle-class and wealthy Catholics felt part of the British plans as well. It is interesting, however, that many members of the loyalist paramilitary forces have admitted in recent years that they have been used by the British, and continue to be used. It is clear also that the 26-County pro-capitalist establishment benefited from the Northern sectarian statelet, which was assisted by their deceitful bourgeois politics since the 1920s.
Many republicans, nationalists and united-Irelanders will mistakenly see the Catholic majority reported in the census as progress towards a 32-county Ireland and the ending of unionist dominance. That’s a very narrow view, and a pyrrhic victory.
What adds to the charade is that many right-wing commentators and similar media, particularly in the South, are speculating on the possibilities of a “united Ireland.” The likes of the Irish Times commenting on a border poll, or Norman Tebbit forecasting a “united Ireland,” would certainly not inspire confidence about what type of Ireland they are surely talking about. Neither would the latest political circus by “Ireland’s Future” in the 3Arena, or the next one in the Ulster Hall in Belfast.
The real question, therefore, is what kind of Ireland will they want. Will a Catholic or Protestant majority in the North make any difference to that outcome? I doubt it very much. Once again the plan will be to secure a 32-county pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist and pro-NATO Ireland, an Ireland for the haves and to hell with the have-nots.
In the first instance, if and when change happens it will be decided mainly by the British, the EU, the Americans, the Dublin government, and their NATO allies. The majority in Ireland, the Protestant or Catholic working class, will have no say. Protestant and Catholic businessmen and women in the North may well have some input, as will the business class in the South.
Republicans, but socialist republicans in particular, would do well to ignore the propaganda about what is another sectarian head count, in the form of a census, and build now for a 32-county socialist republic in the vision of Connolly.