Will we be RIBIS in a few months time?

What happens to RIBI on September the 19th should the majority of 4.3 million Scots place an X in the ‘YES’ box and vote to become an independent nation in the polling stations the previous day?

Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland as is currently encompasses the nations of England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. So in effect, RIBI already comprises of two individual nations but what will happen if a third one decides to join it in a just under a week’s time?

RIBIS – will this be the organisation’s name should the Scottish nation vote to become independent?

My view is, not much! I am sure the greatest arguments will revolve around the positioning of the new ‘S’ within the existing four letters. Will we be RISBI, RIBSI or since Scotland is the last in should that mean it goes last in the acronym giving us RIBIS – it’s all very exciting thinking about it.

Or does the General Council seek the authority of those in charge to create the new  organisation using the nations’ names (in alphabetical order obviously)? However, Rotary in England, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland & Wales doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue when the beloved Rotary acronym is generated. Let’s be honest about it RERINISW doesn’t quite do it, does it? If Wales allowed us to use Cymru then RERINISC certainly has a slightly better ring to it.

Somewhat surprisingly, a letter published in Rotary Today in April from Dr David Sutherland from the Rotary Club of Troon, Scotland which questioned whether any discussions had even taken place at RIBI about the implications of a vote for independence. He thought that Rotary Clubs could play a role in communities by hosting debates, talks and the likes to ensure people were well informed about the independence issues. Really, Rotary taking an active role in politics?

However, Dr Sutherland’s letter was effectively dismissed in a reply in the subsequent August edition of Rotary Today from a fellow celt, Hywel W Jones from the Rotary Club of Aberystwyth, Wales who thought the issue was political and therefore inappropriate for Rotary or Rotarians to become involved. A view I have to say I share.

I admit to being very surprised that Dr Sutherland’s original letter was even published. I do have to wonder how much the gauntlet he laid down by challenging the Rotary Today Editor, “Will you publish this letter…?” and the lack of full understanding as to how much a ‘hot-topic’ this matter has become allowed the letter to appear on the pages of the Rotary in Britain and Ireland’s national magazine. As I cannot recall ever seeing anything a ‘overtly political’ as this letter ever appearing on the letters page.

Not quite the non-political organisation we like to promote ourselves as.

So with less than a week to go the Scottish Referendum (or never-endum as some people are calling it) the YES:NO campaign polls quite literally have things neck-and-neck. It is therefore understood that around 10% of registered votes may actually still be making their mind up as they step into the ballot box on Thursday 18th of September. This means the result could go either way.

Taking this into account, we all know how long decisions can take to be made in the luxury liner that is Rotary International in Britain and Ireland. On this occasion this is probably a good job because if next week’s Scottish ballot boxes are weighted more with YES crosses than NO then the upper echelons of our administration will at least have until March 2016 to decide whether we’re going to be RISBI, RIBSI or RIBIS…now this could take some negotiations.

Just one more thing though…I just wonder whether one of the options would be for Scottish Districts to be given the opportunity to amalgamate with one of the world-wide generic Rotary International Zones in Europe having no affiliation with RIBI at all…I guess there is a bigger decision to be taken before any of these questions even get on the table.

In the early hours of Friday 19th September the whole country (and by that I mean the United Kingdom) will find out whether the points Dr Sutherland made in his letter some months ago were valid and should have been considered more.

 Image Yes or No? by Kyoshi Masamune by CC

6 thoughts on “Will we be RIBIS in a few months time?

  1. Aled owen says:

    What Dr Sutherland was advocating was not political at all. By that I men it wasn’t party political. He was asking whether Rotary had considered the implications of the change that a YES vote would bring about and suggesting that Rotary might want to facilitate local discussions on the subject by bringing together advocates for both sides in an orderly debate. Sounded like sense to me – an aspect of ‘We’re for Communities’

      1. Aled owen says:

        The only way an individual could ensure that he wasn’t involved in politics is to live alone in a cave. Everything we do has a political aspect. Supporting a food bank is political. Sending aid to Palestine is a political gesture. A prominent Rotarian dentist has recently commented on the Referendum on Facebook and I believe he was free to do that but it would have been wrong to say what he said as a Rotarian or on behalf of Rotary.

        The first part of Dr Sutherland’s letter was asking whether RIBI had considered the consequence of the vote on its modus operandi and I interpreted that to be asking the sort of question that was the subject of your blog – will we have to change our name and what are the options. It would have been party political if RIBI had advocated a NO vote because we would have to change our name. That’s a silly example but it will do.

        I feel that there are situations around the world where party politics causes local poverty and a good example is the dumping of cheap cotton on international markets by multinationals and I’m sure that RI does campaign behind closed doors about such issues. I would be happy for RI to come out and take a party political stance on that but it just isn’t going to happen.

        Two apologies – thread drift is the first. The second is that Grammarly is jumping up and down about my sentence construction (there are red lines everywhere) so I apologise if my grammar is offending any purists.

  2. Allan Berry Rotary Today editor says:

    The letter from Dr Sutherland was published before my tenure as editor and in the June edition a letter follows correcting some his assumptions and points. We carefully look at all letters we receive for suitability to be published. We would not print anything that was even overtly political and indeed have rejected further letters on the subject. I’m sure when my predecessor took the decision to publish he never ever envisaged how the Scottish Campaign would develop.

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