Unionist parties reject Modeling Irish Unification Report

No real surprise here, but worth noting the response of the two main Unionist parties to the launch of the Modeling Irish Unification.  The report was launched this morning at The MAC in Belfast with Sinn Fein, SDLP MLAs and economists in the audience.

This report argues that Irish unity could potentially bring a €35.6 billion boost in GDP for the island in the first eight years.

Responding for the UUP, Steve Aiken argues that the reports main conclusions are flawed;

The report by academics from the University of British Columbia may indeed be well-intentioned but its conclusions are flawed. The notion that a United Ireland would see £25 billion of economic gains if only the border was to be removed is fantasy economics of the highest order. It was a Minister in the Republic, Jimmy Deenihan, who said ‘Ireland cannot afford a united Ireland.’

The idea that the border is or has been the main brake on economic development in Northern Ireland or the Republic is simply not credible. The Troubles saw the IRA deliberately target the Northern Ireland economy and our infrastructure. The Ulster Unionist Party is in no doubt that a prolonged period of sustained peace and political stability is what is required to help rebuild our economy rather than Irish unity.

Firstly, the report conveniently ignores the fact that the Union enjoys overwhelming support amongst the people of Northern Ireland as evidenced in successive elections and a variety of official statistics including census data and Life & Times surveys.

Secondly, Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, the fifth largest economy in the world. Indeed when the Republic’s economy crashed in 2010 and required a 67 billion Euro bailout to stave off an economic and societal meltdown, it was the UK Government that provided 8.5 billion Euro directly, and an additional 18 billion Euro to bail out the Ulster Bank to support our neighbours in the Republic and avoid a catastrophe.

The legacy of these events is huge, with the Republic’s total debt (2016) projected to be around 206 billion Euro (or 98.4% of GDP, excluding future pension liabilities).

Thirdly, it costs 22 billion sterling to run Northern Ireland each year. The difference between that figure and the tax received by the exchequer is around 9.5 billion sterling and this figure would substantially increase with thousands of layoffs in unwanted civil service and other public sector roles as an integration process commenced.

Furthermore there would be increased costs in terms of tax harmonisation and major issues with regard to the future of the NHS. I for one doubt if people in Northern Ireland would vote for increased taxes and a health system in which they have to pay for visits to GPs, A&E, and compulsory health insurance.

Fourthly, some of the models quoted include German reunification and potential Korean re-unification. With the greatest respect to the Republic of Ireland, its economy is not comparable to the powerhouse that was West Germany, or the success story that has been South Korea.

For the DUP, Gordon Lyons MLA has been quoted in today’s Irish News dismissing the report at “Gerry Adams style economics”

Support for the union has never been higher in Northern Ireland because people see the value of our NHS and being part of one of the world’s largest economies, as well as many other positives of being in the United Kingdom.


David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

  • John Collins

    l felt I was paying a £ everywhere i would have spent a € in ROI.

  • ted hagan

    Politically the Kingdom of Great Britain was formed by the union of England and Scotland. So the Kingdom of GB would no longer exist

  • Pasty

    Will the English continue to pump money in in the amounts they have been ? the demand for benefit cuts suggests that that is not the case and from here going forward that 9.5billion will be greatly reduced. on top of that with the English starting to be directly affected with paying out so much money and their services being reduced then there is likely to be a demand from them to end the Union. At a straight cut based on the DUP’s economics the English could save themselves the 9.5billion and not then need to close hospitals and schools and cut benefits to their own people.
    The DUP think it is all about what they want and tell everyone the figures they want them to hear, if they are so clear and sure that everyone wants to remain in the UK then put it to the people and prove it beyond all doubt. There is nothing clearer and fairer that good old Democracy in Action !!!!!

  • Muiris

    The report is of course interesting, but suspect, for obvious reasons. Further, (and more objective ?) research would be very welcome.

  • barnshee

    I invite you to establish where the majority of the money “that the UK pumps a ….. into the north of Ireland” ends up

    The big bills are Social security in its various forms Health and education


    Hint – Try expenditure in West Belfast, Strabane and Derry and Newry and Armagh

  • barnshee

    “We can’t change the past but acknowledging it can help sometimes.”
    We could acknowledge the totality rather than teh selective and include all the facts

    T he Irish inviting in the Normans (twice) , supporting Spain and France (twice) to overthrow the English succession, the enthusiasm for Uncle Adolph. And being roundly booted up the arse on regular basis.

  • Croiteir

    I will let the diatribe pass and look at the last – admission – or semi admission of the failed state murdering its citizens.

    That is just the old lone that they are as bad as each other. That is just a lie to justify unionism. The are not. Unionism has always tended to violently attack nationalists whenever it perceived them to be an existentialist threat. That does not apply to nationalists.

  • Croiteir

    Due to the date of its founding rather than the establishment of the border.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Ah f***k, History 101 again. We’ll keep it simple.

    The Irish didn’t invite the Normans in, an ousted King of Leinster (who had been deposed by the High King) did in an attempt to get his land back.

    ‘…supporting Spain and France (twice) to overthrow the English succession..’ Not how the Irish saw it of course, they just needed help in resisting a brutal overlord.

    Spain – The Spanish alliance was a direct consequence of the savage policy of conquest and colonisation of the previous half century or so initiated by Henry VIII.
    France – Irish Jacobitism was chiefly concerned with overturning the Cromwellian dispossessions, restoring the Irish parliament and Catholic rights. French in ’98 – again against a background of restoration of basic rights, this time the Penal Laws (which is of course why Presbyterians were also involved). You might detect a bit of a trend in why these alliances were sought.

    ‘Roundly booted up the arse on a regular basis….’,
    If that’s your way of describing ‘……universal land dispossession, forced religious conversion, cultural genocide, actual genocide in places, famine, deportation, penal laws…..’ then we’ll agree.

  • Old Mortality

    “restructuring” is generally a euphemism for shrunken employment so can I infer that you accept the prospect of considerable pain and that those likely to suffer most could well be the ‘vulnerable’ and ‘deprived’ which both nationalist parties were so recently determined to protect at all costs.

  • Old Mortality

    The odd thing about Derry was that, unlike other towns and cities in the UK (eg Glasgow, Liverpool) which suffered serious economic decline, its population continued to expand.

  • Greenflag 2

    No pain no gain is an old cliche. How you get a state /region from 70% plus public sector dependent to say 35% or even 40% is not an easy political task anywhere , Restructuring can mean shrunken employment in the absence of a high rate (4% plus ) of economic growth . The major difference between Greece and Ireland in the 2008 financial crisis was that the Irish economy had been restructuring since the mid 1970s following on from the Anglo Irish Free Trade agreement and accession to the EU . Greece was under a military dictatorship who did nothing with the economy except play military music -ensure the soldiers were paid and then the music stopped . Greece’s protected classes ie government employees and their dependents came first . Greece rates 85th approx in world rankings of the least corrupt public sector administration/government on the planet . . Northern Ireland is not Greece nor is it East Germany . It has a head start on both those states from both an economic and political/social viewpoint and its in a better neighbourhood .

    Of course NI is free to choose to continue as it is which means permanent dependency on the UK /London taxpayers -continuing low private sector investment and a continuing loss of it’ s brightest and best to the rest of Ireland and Britain and elsewhere .

    Given whats going on in the global economy the latter is the devil people know and at least hell is said to be warmer . On the other hand hell is still hell – and in the NI case politically destabilising particularly if ‘heaven ‘ is just a 50 mile drive away without having to take the ferry .

  • Spike

    There are none so blind as those who cannot see. We will forever be an economic pimple on the bottom of the UK until they decide enough is enough…..and osbourne looks like a ruthless enough Chancellor to do something about it. We offer absolutely nothing economically to the UK and at some stage we are going to have to pay our way.