Belfast Telegraph

Independence: What's the next step for Scotland and how will Northern Ireland people living there vote?

Kerry McKittrick meets those who will never come home and others already house-hunting

The registration has closed, the debates have been held and the campaign is entering its final weeks. On Thursday, September 18, residents of Scotland will be asked to vote on one simple question: should Scotland be an independent country? Many issues are being discussed in the run-up to the election. Unsurprisingly, the debate has been focused on economics, healthcare and education.

Of course, many are happy that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom and want it to stay that way, and they are unsure that their quality of life will remain as high if Scotland decides to become independent.

Yet others in the Yes campaign believe that Scotland will be better off when not ruled by Westminster. For example, vast revenues from oil could make it a very wealthy country. Many also believe that an independent Scotland will prevent the privatisation of the health service.

British, Irish and EU citizens resident in Scotland are eligible to vote in the referendum so this is not a question only open to the Scots. Kerry McKittrick talks to five people from Northern Ireland who have taken up residency in Scotland about how they're going to use their vote.

'I'll vote Yes as I want to protect the NHS'

Rick McMurray (39) is best-known as the drummer of band Ash. He was born in Downpatrick and spent most of his life in Killyleagh. He now lives in Edinburgh with his girlfriend Anouska Curzon and their daughter Freya (3). He says:

For a good few years I was travelling all over the place, but I've always absolutely loved Edinburgh. My ex-girlfriend's sister came to university here so we would have visited the city a lot. Eventually we moved over here to live because we felt like a change. My girlfriend and I split up, but I decided to stay on.

I met Anouska in Nottingham. When we were expecting Freya, Anouska and I seriously considered either moving closer to her dad in York or back to Northern Ireland to be closer to my family. But in the end we just loved Edinburgh so much that we decided to stay put. Now, I think we're pretty much settled here – I can't see us moving.

I studied politics at school so I've always been very interested in it and I was really excited when Labour won the election in 1997. Looking back though, I thought that they would bring about a huge change, but they changed very little and now the Conservatives are back again.

I started getting back into politics around the time my daughter was born – I began thinking about what sort of life she would have and what sort of country she would grow up in. I'll be voting Yes because I want to protect the NHS in Scotland.

I'm not officially involved in the campaign, but it's something I am passionate about – you can see it all over my Twitter account. For me things have really ramped up in the last week – we're on the home stretch so now is the time to be pushing the message and talking about it. I think the whole thing has revitalised people's interest in politics so they want to get involved – at least that's what has happened with me. It's quite exciting.

A Yes vote will protect certain things, the health service here in particular – in England it's been carved open.

I think that a country should start by protecting its own people instead of starting wars to protect the interests of big countries."

'I don't want to feel like a foreigner here'

Mollie Price (68) is originally from Belfast and now lives in Dumfries and Galloway with her husband Ray. They have two grown-up daughters. She says:

My husband and I came to Scotland in 1986. I met Ray in Belfast – he's English, but was serving in the Army so we've lived all over the world. I've spent time in Germany and Kuwait, but eventually he finished off his career in Edinburgh.

There's a strong Scottish connection in my family – my father was Scottish – so we decided to settle down in Scotland. We would have stayed in Edinburgh, but not long after we arrived I was involved in a very bad car accident and have been disabled ever since.

I find the people in Edinburgh rather cold – it's lovely to visit, but not to live in. We came down to Dumfries and Galloway because there are a lot of people from home here – they call themselves the Galloway Irish.

It's been a good place for us to stay as Ray was able to get work here – he's a navigation and radar specialist. Since my accident I have found it difficult to travel long distances in the car so the upheaval of moving much further away would have been too much.

But we may move back to Northern Ireland now as I'll certainly be voting no. I want to stay within the union. I don't want to feel like a foreigner in this country – and that could happen. To be honest even though I've been in Scotland for 28 years, I still feel like a blow-in. I feel that there's a lot of nepotism here. In the event of a Yes vote, I'm deeply concerned about the currency that will be used as it will take a few years to get into the Eurozone.

We're also worried about what might happen to the value of our savings and investments.

We own our own house and we don't know if the value of that will change if there is independence. If Scotland goes independent, it will also affect any pension if it's registered in England – it's all the uncertainty that worries me most.

So, should the Yes camp win then we will be moving back to Northern Ireland. I'm even looking at houses for sale on the internet at the moment.

And once Scotland has independence, there will be no going back. It's not as if we can try it out for six months, then deciding it hasn't worked and go back to being part of the UK."

'I'm worried what will happen if everything goes to pot'

Katrina McCaffrey (35) is from Belfast originally and now lives in Edinburgh. She works as a treasury analyst for an investment company. She says:

I first came to Scotland to go to university. I went to Dundee to study social sciences because my brother and a lot of my friends were studying in the same place. I wanted to be able to get out of Northern Ireland but still be quite close to it.

After university, I spent a year working for Scottish Widows in Edinburgh and then went travelling for a year. When I came back I moved home to Belfast, I wanted to see what it had to offer for a while. After three years, though, I moved back to Edinburgh – I felt that most of my friends were still in Scotland and I felt that there were a lot more job opportunities than Belfast. That was eight years ago and I still love living in Edinburgh.

I don't like politics so I rarely vote, but I feel that the referendum is too important to ignore, so I've registered and I will vote, I just don't know how yet.

Having a referendum is a good idea but there's a lot of scaremongering in the Press and across social media about what will happen if the vote goes one way or the other.

I do think it's a great idea for Scotland to be an independent country but I don't feel like the Scottish government really knows what it's doing. They haven't told me what they'll do about income tax, pensions, currency and other financial matters. We're just out of a recession and the country is getting itself back on its feet, so I'm worried what will happen if everything goes to pot. I have a flat in Edinburgh with a mortgage so the economics concern me. There are a lot of companies with head offices in England who say they will withdraw from Scotland if there's a Yes vote. I don't even know if I'll be able to watch EastEnders in an independent Scotland – you can't watch the BBC outside of the UK.

Everyone is talking about the referendum – so much so it's actually starting to get annoying. Of course I pay attention to the debates but they just seem to be about two politicians shouting at each other."

'If it hit us financially we might have to move'

David Jones (30) is originally from Belfast. He is a manager for a telecommunications company and lives in Renfrew just outside Glasgow with his wife Laura and their son Charlie (1). He says:

When I was 18 and studying at the University of Ulster, I went to a friend's house party in Glasgow. I met my future wife Laura at that party and we've been together ever since. We had a long-distance relationship for the rest of my time at university and I moved to Glasgow once I graduated.

It was easier for me to move to Glasgow than for Laura to move to Belfast. Besides, at the time Belfast still didn't have the best reputation. The first time Laura came to visit, we got the bus from the city centre to east Belfast and all she saw was soldiers at the bottom of the Newtownards Road. I love Glasgow, it's just like Belfast but bigger and with less bombings and more stabbings. There's also a Rangers/Celtic rivalry the same as there is in Northern Ireland. As far as I'm concerned, we're here for the long haul but things may change depending on the referendum.

I'm voting No in the referendum, but for a long time I was wavering between Yes and No and weighing up the arguments from both sides.

At the minute I feel that the yes vote is a nice concept, but there hasn't been enough planning or thought gone into it.

For me, it's better the devil you know because there are still too many unanswered questions. My wife was firmly in the no camp, but now she would be considered a swing voter – we like the idea of an independent Scotland, but there needs to be more work done on how things will work if it happens. We particularly worry about healthcare and education – not least because Laura is a teacher.

Certainly, people are starting to get more passionate about the debate as the vote comes closer. I've noticed that quite a few people I work with originally planned to vote No, but they've now changed to a Yes. There's a nationalist feeling building up which makes me think the vote will be a lot closer than originally thought.

If Scotland does become independent and the standard of living drops, Laura and I would have to reassess our situation. We have a mortgage here and we're happy where we are living, but if it was going to impact upon us financially we might consider moving to England or Northern Ireland. When you have a family, standard of living becomes a real concern."

'Independent Scotland can lead by example'

Derec Thompson (32) lives in Cambuslang just outside Glasgow with his partner Scott is a self-employed graphic and web designer originally from Belfast. He says

Originally I came to Scotland six and a half years ago as I was given an opportunity with the company I worked for at the time. It was a spontaneous decision but I didn't have any ties in Belfast so I jumped at the chance.

I moved back to Belfast with work nine months later but five years ago I quit my job and moved to Scotland permanently.

I moved mainly because I'd met Scott, but that wasn't the only reason. I had become disillusioned with Northern Ireland politics and I hadn't bothered to vote since my early 20s.

When I was in Scotland, though, for the first time I began to see how politics was really supposed to work. There was a good government in place that was protecting the NHS from privatisation and taking care of the elderly.

The government was also protecting tuition fees, which is a big reason for me voting Yes. I had attended Queen's University in Belfast but I dropped out in my second year. I found the financial pressure too much – I was trying to do two jobs and study at the same time.

The parliament in Scotland was doing all of the things that it should be doing – I know Stormont did do some things like free prescriptions and free public transport for the elderly but they didn't do enough. There was so much more that could have been achieved if it wasn't for the petty bickering. Also, in Northern Ireland the bill to allow same-sex marriages was defeated. In Scotland it has passed through parliament and the first marriages will happen in the next quarter. I don't find that people's attitudes to gay people are different in Scotland to Northern Ireland.

My personal view is that things are different politically in Northern Ireland. I feel that a referendum on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland would pass but it's dinosaur politics, mainly the DUP, which is preventing it from happening and it's not right.

I have many, many reasons for voting Yes – in fact, I'm a Yes campaigner. I think the Scottish electorate tends to vote more to the left and are more social democratic than elsewhere in the UK.

It's because of that I can see real potential for a fully independent Scotland to lead the remainder of the UK by example.

I think if Scotland shows that a success can be made of a social democratic system then England might be inclined to follow suit.

The argument that Scotland won't be able to support itself is baseless and relies on an ignorant electorate but people in Scotland are incredibly clued-in."

Which way are celebs voting?

Voting No

  • David Bowie asked model Kate Moss to relay his message to the Brit Awards. It said: "Scotland stay with us"
  • JK Rowling is so against dissolving the Union between Scotland and the rest of Great Britain that she has donated £1m to the Better Together campaign
  • Former Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson would be voting No, but as a Scot who doesn't reside in Scotland he is not entitled to a vote. His argument is that Scots living in the UK should have a say in their country. He has also donated to the Better Together Campaign
  • Hairy Angel and Britain's Got Talent Star Susan Boyle had decided to vote No, citing that she is not a nationalist

Voting Yes

  • The Good Wife star Alan Cumming has voiced his support for the Yes campaign. He planned to gain a vote in the referendum by buying an apartment in Edinburgh, but was foiled when it was revealed that his main residence is in New York
  • Scots Craig and Charlie Reid, better known as pop duo The Proclaimers, have lent their support to the Yes campaign saying: "We believe that we should take responsibility for our own lives"
  • Controversial novelist Irvine Welsh has said: "We'd be unstoppable if we were independent"
  • Hollywood heart-throb Gerard Butler has come down in favour of the split vote, saying: "I can't see why Scotland shouldn't be independent, it has different people and attitudes"

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