My own take on this is that it's a matter of time, djohnsto77.
The RoI freely chose to be a member of the EU just as the UK did, many years ago, but, many nationalists and republicans in NI do not believe the
British have a right to have effectively 'imported' (over the many many years) a 'British Ulster Irish' population and have them 'use a loaded
form of democracy' to keep Ireland divided.
Just as many Unionists and so-called 'Loyalists' believe that they are separate and that the RoI has no right to say say in NI matters as the RoI is
(to them) a totally separate and alien country.
Of course this opens up interesting questions about the rights and wrongs of 'native peoples' and those who come and settle later.
Britain's imperial involvement with Ireland goes back over approx 800yrs (and don't even mention the French, Spanish or the Norse that ended up
there at various times too!) and very large population shifts were happening as long as 400yrs ago with 'the planters'.
In amongst this settling were land-grabs, 'gifts' from the British Crown (which usually came from someone already there) etc.
That kind of backdrop - along with the fabled long Irish memory - is not a formula for stability and peace.
I have heard it said that there are cases where the original owning families can show what was theirs once and taken from them.
That may be so for the big land owners but for most regular people (of either community) those issues and questions are for someone else.
Most of us or our families never had land or were ever given any etc etc.
But generally speaking if 400yrs of familial roots does not confer a 'legitimacy' to those settling then that's a hell of a lot of the worlds
current political arrangements open to question!
I sometimes wonder if those Irish-Americans that are so adamant that the British Irish 'have no right etc etc' ever ponder this question in relation
to themselves and their own families in the USA?
On the other side of the coin many British in the rest of the UK simply cannot understand the deep hostility of some unionists/Loyalists to Ireland
and all things Irish.
Mainly this is because the rest of the UK see the people of NI as Irish and their aversion to Ireland the rest of the Irish is not only seen as deeply
illogical but plain weird.
IMO the extremes of Irish nationalism and Ulster 'Loyalism' each merely 'mirror' the pig-headed, unreasonable, incredibly hostile, aggressive and
closed-mind of the other.
There is no 'answer' to be found there with them IMO, they have nothing but the deepest fears, separation, violence and enmity to offer.
In short they offer nothing but yet further generations to be fed into the meat-grinder and lost or perverted by those irrational hatreds.
I agree that the EU really does make the issue moot but it is taking time to make this apparent.
We are IMO coming to terms with our situation.
We are remembering that we already share formal minimum rights and standards, thanks to the EU, as well as a centuries of obvious cultural and
historic links.....this is why the under-rated 'council of the isles' East -West' institutions are so important.
It's also worth noting that NI's isolation thanks to 'the troubles' means many there have missed what happened even within the rest of the UK and
in the RoI.
Emigration from Ireland to Britain throughout the whole 20th century means many many British families have close southern Irish links.
Undoubtedly far more people in the rest of the UK now have links to to southern Ireland than northern.
Far from reviling the Irish the 2nd most popular nationality for the British (after their own, of course) is, according to recent polls, Irish.
Ulster protestants inviting English/Welsh or Scots families to be hostile or fearful of their Irish Roman Catholic relatives really isn't going to
make much headway.
But as I often say it took over 800yrs to get here so if this 'peace process' and the political process takes some time (even with the occasional
problem and set-back) then we should not be disheartened or discouraged.
I grew up through the start and worst of 'the troubles' in the 1970's and many of not most of my generation were convinced that once started it
could never end and there could be no progress.
I'm glad we were wrong.
[edit on 31-10-2006 by sminkeypinkey]