Northern Ireland turns 100
The British province of Northern Ireland turns 100 today. With the Government of Ireland Act, which came into force at the beginning of May 1921, a border was drawn on the island of Ireland for the first time and the southern and northern parts were each to form an independent government. Commentators on both sides of the border comment on past and present developments.
How the southern State benefitted from partition
In its early days the Republic of Ireland was able to develop faster without the Protestants, The Irish Times comments:
“Partition also meant that the southern State could define itself, in both cultural and economic spheres, in ways that were 'oblivious' to the Protestant presence on the island. Culturally, the Republic could imagine itself as purely Gaelic and pretend that it was, someday soon, going to be Irish-speaking. Economically, it could prioritise the interests of farmers and especially of the cattle trade. It could develop protectionist policies that would have been impossible if it had to think about the interests of the North's industries.”
British history being read too critically
The Daily Telegraph laments on this occasion that the history of the UK is increasingly associated with racism and colonialism:
“British identity is losing ground in every part of the country. It is under pressure, not just from separatists in Scotland and republicans in Northern Ireland, but from statue-smashers in England. If schools and universities teach British history as a hateful chronicle of racism, if our very global success is now seen as a cause for shame, is it any wonder that the constituent nations are slipping back towards older identities?”