David Cameron has said that relations between our two countries are, “at an all time high.”
Unfortunately for Better Together this was not part of the love-bombing, it was a comment following a recent meeting with Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny that discussed security, economic cooperation and joint visa plans. The Irish media has been full of similar sentiments this week as plans were announced for the first state visit of an Irish President to the UK. The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, welcomed the news, “This is a further demonstration of the warm and positive relationship that now exists between Ireland and the United Kingdom.”
President Michael D Higgins is to make a joint address to the House of Commons and the House of Lords. I am sure he will be well briefed to avoid the sensitive subject of Scotland’s self-determination. Unionists should still worry, he has been known to stray into controversy, and it has been written that, “one of the implicit roles of the President is to project, even to personify our national values and identity.”
Beyond the pageantry there are some lessons for Scotland from Anglo-Irish relations. Practical cooperation makes sense. If there are open borders between Derry and Donegal why should we be erecting barbed wire on the Carter Bar. The peace process has obviously been crucial on several levels, but one of the reasons that relations are currently so good is that the London establishment has discovered that it can work effectively with Dublin on the basis of mutual respect.
It is a model for future positive relations between Scotland and rUK. Following a Yes vote on 18th September there will swiftly be a business like relationship between the two governments. In spite of the bleating of the more extreme Scottish unionists, particularly those based in London, it will be in the interests of both to cooperate in a smooth transition.
And some of us look forward to a Scottish President visiting London. As Charles Stewart Parnell said:
No man has the right to fix the boundary to the march of a nation. No man has the right to say to his country “Thus far shalt thou go and no further”.