Scotland & Ireland: Are we both approaching a moment of constitutional change?

Dublin based academic and former journalist Dr Paul Gillespie was the guest speaker at two Indy events. They were organised by Grassroots Oban and Glasgow Pensioners for Independence. Our podcast this week takes a selection of questions from both events

He gave a highly interesting overview of possible futures that may emerge in Ireland and Scotland. Brexit impacts strongly on those futures. And the way the current London government is implementing Brexit provides an additional dimension to that impact.

Since these two discussions happened, things have moved on politically in both Ireland and Scotland. Northern Ireland will soon have a First Minister from the Sinn Fein Party. At least it will if the DUP stops grandstanding. Westminster is pushing through a Bill that will change – unilaterally – the negotiated NI Protocol with the EU. In Scotland, voting analyses show that more and more Scots vote in a way that reflects their constitutional preferences. That makes us more like NI in that regard. And last but not least, our First Minister started the IndyRef2 campaign this week with a likely date of Nov 2023 for the vote.

Whatever the eventual outcomes in Belfast, London, Edinburgh and Dublin, Scotland and Ireland share much historically, socially and now politically. Dr Gillespie has a well-informed perspective on all of that.

Some of the questions put to him 

My favourite question from the audience is the one about how to deal with Perfidious Albion 😀. Other questions were:

  • what happened to pensions when Ireland split? At the time there were War Pensions, RUC Pensions and pubic pensions and are were paid into British funds.
  • how do you see the Irish Sea Border complications with EU playing out in any Scottish independence negotiations? 
  • can you give us any tips on how to deal with Perfidious Albion? you’ve plenty of experience with them. 
  • if UK started acting towards Scotland in the way that Spanish Government did towards Catalonia, would Ireland / EU give us support?
  • how are state pensions funded in Eire?
  • can you think of benefits for each other that would emerge from a reunified ireland and an independent Scotland?

Paul Gillespie is a former foreign affairs editor for the Irish Times. Now he focuses on research as a political analyst. His work in the field of Irish, Scottish and UK issues includes:

  • sovereignty, sharing it, and the effects of Brexit
  • Constitutional Futures after Brexit. This is joint research by Univ College Dublin, Univ College London, Queens Univ Belfast
  • Future referendums in Ireland and Scotland. What shape might they take? This is ongoing joint research with the Centre for Constitutional Change at Edinburgh University.
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