Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Scotland could thrive as an independent nation

The Scottish Government's desire to hold a referendum on independence is certainly rattling cages both at Westminster and among unionist politicians here.

There was a time when I would never have considered a 'yes' vote if I was given the opportunity, but the more I see politicians outside Scotland suggesting/dictating on how, when and why there should, or should not, be a referendum, the more I'm inclined to vote in favour.

Tom Elliott's remarks (Comment, January 16) only fuel my sentiments. I'm quite dumbfounded that he could liken a referendum to 30 years of violence, murder and terror - not just by the IRA, but by loyalists, too.

He mentions capitalising on the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. I recall that there seems to be what some may view as capitalising on a 320-year-old battle here in Northern Ireland - and on an annual basis.

Citing the Republic as an example of what happens when a country leaves the Union is not empirical proof of failure either.

Regardless, whether or not the Scots wish to vote 'yes' or 'no' is a matter for them. I'm almost certain that it would indeed hurt the majority in the short term, but there's no reason why the Scots cannot repeat what the Irish did, while avoiding the same errors.

While unionist politicians claim Scotland is their 'bestest friend ever', the fear is not that economic, social or political links are at risk, but that unionism here will be severely dented by Scottish independence, thus acting as a catalyst for Irish reunification.

While this is highly unlikely, I think unionists greatly overestimate the level of concern for Northern Irish unionism among the Scottish population.

ANGUS MAONAIGH

Belfast

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