The issue of a proposed referendum on independence for Scotland was raised on the fringes of the British Irish Council in Dublin yesterday. There was an interesting intervention by First Minister Peter Robinson who said:
If what we have seen over the last few days is a trailer of things to come, then unless we like seeing the sight of our own blood, we might want to stand back somewhat. I speak as a unionist but also as an Ulster-Scot. Clearly, I have a massive interest in what happens and what decision the people of Scotland will take. They do need to know that there are many people that feel they have a very valuable contribution to make to the UK as a whole who want to see them continue to do that. Our peoples have moved from one side of that small stretch of water to the other and back again many times over the centuries, so we have a massive interest. I don't think we can sit by and indicate that it is a matter for Scotland alone. It will have implications for us all. We hope Scotland knows how much we want them to remain within the UK.
Peter Robinson's comments will strike a chord with many other Ulster-Scots. The position of Scotland within the United Kingdom should be valued and cherished. The United Kingdom would be diminished if Scotland were to leave and we are right to say to the Scots that we see them as our kith and kin across the 'narrow sea'. Throughout history that sea has been a bridge rather than a barrier.
There are strong historical, social, cultural, spiritual and financial bonds between the people of Ulster and the people of Scotland. There are also strong bonds with the other parts of the United Kingdom but those with Scotland are especially strong.