In the 1600s Scotland looked with envy at the booming economy of its neighbour; this created perfect conditions for a 'get rich quick' scheme in which the Scots invested a fifth of the wealth of the country in return for a promise of huge asset returns and universal wealth. Sadly, the investment turned out to be a fly-blown swamp in central America. Whilst the bankers and fat cats lived on ships in some luxury, the poor punters died in their hundreds in mosquito ridden shanties. When the fat cats dealt with their misery by giving them more alcohol, it just killed them off faster. The false boom almost bankrupted Scotland.
So when England came along with an offer to underwrite the debt and to buy Scots currency at the rate of an English Shilling (5p) for each Scots pound, the Scots gladly signed up to the Act of Union in return. And the poor sods have been regretting it ever since.
As Joseph O'Connor writes in the Guardian this morning;
Psychiatrists tell us that grief comes in four distinct stages: denial, anger, bargaining and depression, before finally the goal of acceptance may be reached. In the last year, the country has staggered its way through that grim quartet of emotions. We made ourselves believe that the boom would last for ever, denying the facts when it became clear that it wouldn't. We then told ourselves the fallout wouldn't be as vicious as some predicted, even as the dole queues lengthened and businesses collapsed, and every single one of us had a family member or colleague who lost a job or couldn't pay the mortgage any more. Then followed the grotesque period of passivity and botched action, which the historians of 21st-century Ireland will ultimately remember as the doom of a country's self-image.Ireland Unite; you have nothing to gain but Europe's chains.