O’Neill highlights the crude ethno-nationalist sentiment which informs an SNP aide’s recent analysis of the political situation in Northern Ireland, in the light of republican murders. A Herald article examines Mark Hirst’s comments and political reaction to them, both from his own party and its opponents. His argument can be summarised, in blunt terms, as advice to nationalists to outbreed unionists, switching strategy ‘from the bomb … to the bedroom’, as he charmingly puts it. It is not, of course, a unique contention in nationalist circles and it finds echoes on this side of the Irish Sea.
Neither the SNP, nor other modern nationalist parties in the main, expressly articulate such crude ethnocentric narrative. Hirst’s article has, however, prompted Scottish Unionist to consider the Scottish Nationalists’ tendency to endorse multiple separatist causes, throughout Europe and beyond. Far from restricting its ambition to the independence of Scotland, the SNP supports campaigns to dismember other parts of the United Kingdom, as well as Spain and Canada. Through its involvement in the European Free Alliance, the party associates itself with groups whose collective objectives extend to shattering the sovereignty of states throughout the EU.
This intra-nationalist solidarity is reciprocated and it is also replicated whenever separatist causes pursue similar tactics (except of course where they clash with other countermanding separatist causes). Take a drive through republican redoubts in Belfast and the walls are adorned with murals celebrating violent separatism throughout the world, be it in France, Spain, the Middle East or Latin America. Scratch a proponent of separatist nationalism and you will find he is predisposed to ‘fragmentation and emasculation’ of states far beyond his own (to borrow SU’s excellent phrase).
That, of course, simply reflects the inclinations of an ideology which, logically extrapolated, demands that political statehood must flow from any claim of national identity, even should it issue from the tiniest group.
An alternative view upholds the sovereignty of existing states under international law, expects those states to respect the minority cultures which exist within them and encourages recognition of multiple and nested identities. That way lies plurality and tolerance, rather than violence, or programmes to outbreed the neighbours.