The second, from the eirigi website (eirigi) (19.12.08), contrasts the current role of the armed forces in the Six Counties and in Scotland. However, if there is ever to be a serious move towards the exercise of Scottish self-determination, we too could experience such British ‘normality’.

As of January 2009, the British army in the Six Counties will no longer operate under its own control structures. From January, the occupation forces will take their orders directly from what is called High Headquarters in Edinburgh.

The move will leave around 30 British military personnel, including a brigadier general, surplus to Irish requirements.

For Irish republicans, the development is hardly of major significance – the removal of a brigadier general won’t leave Ireland much closer to liberation.

But in the terminology of normalisation – the tweaking of the British occupation for maximum optical effect – this was another major step on the road to harmony.

The standard bearers for normalisation, however, ignore one major problem when they claim that Ireland and Scotland are now two peas in a British pod.

The British government garrisons 5,000 armed troops in several locations across the Six Counties and introduced the Justice and Security Act in 2007 to give these troops specific permanent powers. The powers, which were previously only available under emergency legislation, include the right to stop, search, question and arrest, as well as the power to enter, search and seize property.

If the British government and its cheerleaders seriously viewed the role and presence of British troops in the Six Counties as being no different to those in Scotland, surely the question arises as to why it refuses to extend the same powers to its troops based there.

After all, by Britain’s own yardstick of what passes for normality in society, Scottish citizens should enjoy the same ‘protection’ given by British troops as Irish citizens in the Six Counties.

What could be more normal than British squaddies, under the control of High Headquarters in Edinburgh, being given powers to arrest and detain Scottish citizens without a warrant; to enter and search the homes of Scottish citizens; to have the power to search and stop the cars and other vehicles of Scottish citizens; to examine and record documents belonging to Scottish citizens; to take possession of lands, buildings and other property belonging to Scottish citizens or to destroy that property or take any action which interferes with a public right or a private right to that property; and to have the power to close Scottish roads and other rights of way?

Could it be that the ordinary Scottish citizen, if faced with armed troops with the legislative ability to exercise such powers at the behest of a government in London, might question the need for those powers?

Could it be that the ordinary Scottish citizen might well feel affronted if stopped by armed troops exercising such powers? Could it be that the ordinary Scottish citizen might consider how he or she could resist? Could that Scottish citizen’s thoughts, along with the thoughts of many others, rest on ways and means to re-assert and re-claim their national independence?

Such thoughts would be considered normal, unless, of course, your views were those of the British government towards Ireland.