In an interview with National Collective, Gerry Collins the former Irish Foreign Minister stated that he supports Scotland voting ‘Yes’ to independence.
Collins, who served in senior ministerial positions across a 22 year period, said “I hope Scotland votes for independence. You’re striving for a better country.”
Collins’ statement is part of growing support for Scottish independence in other countries. Figures in Iceland and England have pledged their support, while academics and politicians in Denmark stated that Scottish EU membership would be welcomed.
The former minister’s support for independence is based on a long-held respect for Scottish political colleagues:
“I wish you well. If you feel you can handle yourselves, I see no reason why you can’t. I was always very friendly with supporters of independence. Winnie Ewing was a close ally of Finna Fail in the European Parliament. John McCormick was another great man – one of the finest people I ever worked with.”
These connections built upon a natural support for self-determination. “I was sympathetic to those ideas”, Collins said. “There is a natural sympathy for the Scots in Ireland. If the people in Scotland are satisfied, the Irish people would want Scotland to make a success of it.”
Collins was backed up by other Irish political figures interviewed by National Collective.
Sean O Neachtain, a two term member of the European Parliament for Fianna Fail, said “I believe in a European format that Scottish independence would be a welcome boost not only for Scotland but also the whole European format. We’re breaking down boundaries that are somewhat superficial.
“I look at independence as a means of unity rather than separation. It bring about unity by diversity. [the motto of the European Union] Scottish independence would bring about that aim.
“I stronger encourage independence as many people here would.”
Pat Breen TD, Government Chair of Committee on Foreign Affairs, made it clear that the official government position is one of neutrality, however he welcomed any attempts to strengthen cooperation between Scotland and Ireland. The Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny was unavailable for a full interview, however he did treat the National Collective team to a rendition of Flower of Scotland during the Fine Gael Conference.
Gerry Collins’ nephew, Niall Collins, is the current Fianna Fail shadow Minister for Justice. When asked whether current Irish politicians were broadly supportive and sympathetic to Scottish independence Gerry Collins said, “Of course they would be. Fianna Fail, certainly. The natural tendency in Fianna Fail is ‘Yes’.”
Collins’ position is based upon a clear sense of solidarity and affection for Scotland, as well as an inside knowledge of the success medium sized countries can have within the international community.
Collins was Minister for Foreign Affairs when Ireland held the Presidency of the European Community for the fourth time. Ireland’s input into both the European Union and the United Nations has been key to an outward looking foreign policy.
At the time the Irish Presidency was viewed as a national success. “We more than proved that we were capable of running a professional Presidency. I remember a French journalist asking at our first press conference if we should have allowed the French to continue for another six months. I said ‘No’ and we ran a better Presidency than the French!”
This experience has a lesson for an independent Scotland with ambitions to play a leading part in European affairs.
“The small countries have no baggage”, says Collins. “You can be amenable, honest, upright and you can set your priorities.”
Scotland’s success as a European nation depends upon its values. How can Scotland be a successful member of the EU? “Play their part. Recognise that being good Europeans is not in contradiction with being good for Scotland. I’d be certain that an independent Scotland would be good within a European context.”
At its heart, Gerry Collins’ message to Scotland is one of compassion: “You have a magnificent country. Enjoy it and handle it well.”
— Michael Gray (@GrayInGlasgow) May 30, 2014