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?
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.