John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Scottish Divorce

Posted on September 18, 2014
Flag of Scotland.svg

"Flag of Scotland" by none known - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Amid the bloodshed of the First World War, as the people of Ireland prepared to celebrate the holiest of Christian holidays, a small band of Irishmen embarked on a seemingly insane plot to overthrow the ruling government based in London.

The Easter Rebellion wasn’t the first time the Irish tried to reclaim their rightful claim to self-rule.   Stretching back to the flight of the Earls hundred of years before, Irish Catholics fought at times desperately, at time romantically, at times with great aplomb, to separate themselves from their British overlords.

The 1916 uprising at first went poorly.  The Irish people were mostly annoyed with the rebels, who shot up the old Post Office and other buildings within the Dublin City center.

But the British government over-reacted, and brutally executed several of the ring-leaders.  And that helped to inspire a reaction among the Irish people that eventually led to the Anglo-Irish war and then Irish independence.

Scotland hasn’t had the same history of rebellion that has shaped the relationship between the Irish and the English.

Sure, William Wallace fought the good fight against King Edward II, but he lost.  Badly.

Mel Gibson’s movie “Braveheart” told a wonderful Hollywood story about the independent Scottish spirit.  But in reality, the Scots cooperated with English in London far more than they battled with them.

Scotland and England are so inextricably intertwined that the Union Jack contains the crosses of the patron Saints of both peoples.

The Scots and the English, of course, are different peoples.  The Scots are of Celtic origin, while the English come from Angles, Saxons and Normans.

But despite their differences, they have been partners for hundreds of years, and for much of that history, it has been a very successful partnership.

Now, that partnership seems to be headed for a divorce.   The vote to divorce Scotland from England is going on as we speak.

Divorce in a family is painful.  It costs lots of money.  It creates emotional baggage.  It causes bad feelings.  And it takes awhile to divide up the assets of the partnership, and sometimes that process takes years.

Sometimes a divorce in a family is necessary, but usually it is done for emotional reasons, with little regard for the bigger implications.  Lovers grow apart, the love life grows stale, etc etc.

Divorce within a nation can sometimes be extraordinarily painful.   War often ensues.

Yugoslavia and Russia come to mind.

But sometimes it can be seamless.

The Czech Republic decided it didn’t need to be partnered with the Slovakians and their separation didn’t cause any great angst.

It will be interesting to see how this divorce works out between the Scots and the English, if it goes forward.

They have had a successful partnership for quite a long time.  I doubt seriously if they will do as well apart.

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