Are the Dublin party leaders serious about raising Unity in the Brexit negotiations or are they playing Dail politics?

So Enda has taken the lead from Micheal who took his cue from Martin and inserted musing about a future border poll into his speech at Glenties.  For such a fateful topic  the whole sequence  has been deplorably improvised. The qualifications about lack of present evidence won’t stop the hare running now.  A border poll  can only be damaging in any volatile situation and a  monstrous irrelevance connected with Brexit, apart from the unpredictable fallout if  Scotland votes for independence.

Does anybody seriously think that a 56 % majority in favour of Remain on a 63% turnout translates into majority support for a united Ireland? That Northern Ireland outside the EU will produce “a seismic shift?”  “Europe” just isn’t that important in the North, unless it’s exploited as a new tune on the nationalist drum.

It is all too easy to put this run of comment down to the shocks of Brexit acting on the febrile Dail atmosphere and the possibility of early elections on both sides of the Irish Sea. Only a fortnight ago, Charlie Flanagan said: The fact that 56 per cent of those who voted in Northern Ireland on Thursday chose to remain in the EU does not mean that a majority of its electorate would similarly vote for a united Ireland,..’’  They are two very distinct questions.’ Tell that to your boss Charlie. Deaglán de Bréadún gave a flavour of the current political atmosphere in Dublin in a recent Irish News piece.

Dublin clearly needs to be London’s strongest ally in securing the best voluntary redundancy terms, provided of course those conditions do not affect Irish interests in a seriously negative way. But the conduct of the political class in the south these days does not inspire confidence in its ability to steer the ship of state through the choppy waters ahead.

Enda’s East German comparison is also insulting to all the architects of the Good Friday Agreement and those who have kept it up ever since, including successive Irish governments.  While EU free trade created the open border after the British army withdrew, the Dublin leaders seriously overrate the role that “Europe” has played in the peace process – if we are to take them literally. And just by the way, what do they suppose would be the effect on the cohesion within the Executive after all that patient diplomacy?  A price worth paying perhaps?

But there’s no point is telling them to shut up when they’ve already spoken. So let’s go  with it and play scenarios.  The unity theme could come into play quite early if  the Irish government rejected British  terms for triggering Article 50 – that is, if they didn’t go forward with something like a bid for EEA status and decided first to withdraw from the EU  and then start negotiating separate trade treaties throughout the world. This would presumably make a hard border more likely.  New differences between London and Dublin would overshadow the harmony created since 1994 as the peace process developed.

To avoid them Ireland could suggest joint sovereignty as a means of trying to maintain the open border and keep Northern Ireland within the EU. Or they could press for a border poll. While unity itself is decided by the people in both parts of Ireland, the decision to hold a poll is a matter for the British government

“… the Secretary of State shall exercise the power under paragraph 1 if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.”

Criteria for a decision aren’t spelt out – no doubt deliberately. In 1998 this was a can they wanted to kick far down the road.  A nationalist majority in the Assembly would set the bar too high. The assumption is that they’d go on a run of opinion polls after a long period of debate which would see a significant shift in unionist opinion and no threat of serious disorder.How would they feel about the parallel poll in the south? Or, contrary to the whole thrust of the GFA, would they try to sit that one out?

So the question the Irish have to answer now is: are you serious?    If you don’t like the British negotiating position going into the Article 50 process, will you ask the British government to regard the Remain vote which included a fair minority of unionists as evidence which favours a border poll?  Do you think the British would agree?

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  • RG Cuan

    Quite a jittery article. The first half is full of incredulity that political leaders on this island would even contempate speaking sincerely about a re-united Ireland, then the second half simply continues with the “you cannot be serious” line.

    No matter how somebody views our constitutional future, surely an open, balanced, informed and mature debate on what is better for both parts of our small lump of land should be welcomed?

  • cu chulainn

    This is not about Dáil politics, it is about the seriousness of the threat of Brexit to peace and stability on this island. The British are threatening to renege on the Good Friday Agreement, which would make the the present NI impossible.

    Nationalists did not up the tempo on this, they were prepared to allow things go along as they were. It was the British, supported by the DUP, who started this unwise Brexit concept and destabilised a peace settlement that was mostly working.

  • Declan Doyle

    It took a while but eventually both FF and FG have at last caught up with SF in seeing the potential need for a future border poll in the context of Brexit. UK is a country is made up of an alliance of individual nations, for Scotland and NI at least, that alliance is not conditional and both regions have the option to opt for an alternative. Brexit presents a material change in circumstances and as such provides an opportunity to examine those alternatives. Unionists who failed to see this pre Brexit were either asleep or just in denial.

    Now that a poll is on the table and the Irish Political establishment are openly talking about unity it will be very difficult to put that genie back into the bottle. The challenge now is for Unionism to show it’s willingness to live up to their end of the bargain. Depending on how Brexit negotiations unfold, we could quite well witness a surge of interest in unity. So, if sufficient numbers appear to be in favour of a border poll, will Unionism allow that democratic act to unfold?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Why is there such a fuss over this line …

    “The discussions and the negotiations that take place over the next period should take into account the possibility, however far out it may be, that the clause in the Good Friday Agreement may be triggered, in that, if there is clear evidence of a majority of people wishing to leave the United Kingdom and join the Republic, that that should be catered for in the discussions that take place,” Mr Kenny said.

    At the very least I read that as Kenny adapting the Principle of Consent to the Republic of Ireland’s role in the European Union. This is hardly Articles Two and Three. Just a reassertion of the right of people in Northern Ireland to choose to aspire and choose to join a unitary Irish state if a majority of Northern Ireland (and Republic of Ireland) agrees.

    I would call it adapting the Southern Irish role in the Peace Process to the new normal.

    Most nationalists voted to remain in the European Union and will see the Republic of Ireland as a route to get back into the European Union. Martin and Kenny are simply highlighting that’s obvious. Many Irish nationalists Eurosceptics, often anti-Stormont republicans and far left socialists are unlikely to become “unicorns”.

    Indeed Mike Nesbitt, a Unionist makes the same point. That “Brexit has awaken Irish nationalism” … the idea that Southern Party Leaders whether its Michael Martin, Enda Kenny or even Gerry Adams are doing this simply to enable McGuinness and Eastwood is ridiculous.

    People in Northern Ireland can make their own judgement on what the Union with Britain actually means to the border.

    I don’t know any nationalist party who thinks they are going to recruit Lady Sylvia Herman and most of North Down for the cause of a new European Ireland State, but there is disquiet from some sections of Unionism about the pro-Remain Unionist side not being patriotic, I would say they are ignorant of a lot of the UK’s and proud European roots.

    The EU’s motto “Unity in Diversity” …is pretty much a lesson for Irish and British people there.

    I have made the point, on a matter of “identity” issue surrounding the debate British Irishmen like Castlereagh and Wellington were pioneering Europeans and these were the founders of Unionism. The virtue of a Union is that nations could work together for the betterment of all on their own terms. The European Union was not a political union like the UK was, it barely had any say in laws irrelevant to the market, there was no superstate out side the fantasies of some who wanted to leave.

    Look at the reaction there was about Anna Lo, some one who wasn’t a nationalist, by all means a British Citizen, but believed it would’ve been better if Ireland wasn’t divided along sectarian lines.

    You speak of Disorder, pretty much saying that even if Kenny’s hypothetical comes to pass and the Principle of Consent cannot hold the union together, the plan B is to “Attack Taigs” …

    Unionist Newton Emerton says this …

    Parade-related violence could be seen the same way. Rather than being a harbinger of worse to come in a constitutional conflict, it may be as bad as it gets in a cultural conflict. There has not been widespread public disorder over a specifically constitutional development in Northern Ireland since the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement – and that was far from spontaneous.
    Sinn Féin took down the flag from Belfast City Hall as an act of antagonism, openly indicating that it considered unionist insecurity to be fair game.
    There have since been numerous signs of the party moderating this view, although it is too much to hope that any organisation led by Gerry Adams will abandon troublemaking entirely. Unionism is disturbingly lacking in leadership for the momentous challenges ahead – Arlene Foster’s performance as First Minister has been graceless and arrogant so far. Despite campaigning for Brexit, she seems glibly unprepared for what it has unleashed.
    However, on nationalism’s two specific concerns about mass lay-offs and mass disturbances, calamity is not inevitable.

    What should bother Nationalists, Unionists and Others is what the border looks like 2 years after Brexit, there are concerns there for all of us.

    This does seem to stink of what Mallon called Unionists don’t know when they’ve won.

    Maybe you can think as Kenny as some ignorant Southerner who is reading too much into passport applications from even Leave strongholds like North Antrim, East Belfast, Lagan Valley, Upper Bann and Strangford … he hasn’t gone around on a Bus Éireann with the lines money wasted on Trident and nuclear decommissioning will cover the block grant in the bid for Irish unification.

    What he has done, is that he has defended the Strand Two and Strand Three elements of the Peace Process … I only wish that other “guarantor” leader who’s supposed to represent the other half could be vocal about what she intends in these areas yet, because we all do not really know as yet.

    The Taoiseach highlighted that there is uncertainty and the Republic of Ireland needs to adapt its networks in that uncertainty quite clearly here.

    “Who knows what may happen in the time ahead? I’m just making the point that these are the kind of things that should be looked at in the broadest of ways.”
    Asked if such an eventuality could actually happen, the Taoiseach implied it was possible. “Well, people said it would be impossible that Britain would leave the European Union,” he said.

    “In the context of discussions that will take place about the future, about the connections between the Republic and Northern Ireland, between Northern Ireland, the UK and the EU, and our relationship with both, these are things that should be looked at in the context of, they might happen at some time in the future.”

  • Kevin Breslin

    They had in 1973 … Arlene Foster talked about it too.

    Perhaps Unionists might see more power in the Consent argument than the consolidation argument which had resorted to gerrymandering, censorship, banning elected representatives etc. to get the results they wanted.

  • Megatron

    Its pretty simple…EEA (or a first cousin off) and unity is probably back to close to where it was (though I am not sure on impact of EEA on farmers?)
    Non-EEA (which seems to favourite as things stand by the way) – unity is top of agenda.

  • JR

    Seeing the reaction to the Idea that the constitutional position of the North is firmly back on the agenda on both sides of the border just goes to show that Unionists have completely underestimated what a game changer Brexit is

    As far as I can see our interests both economically and socially are very different form those of the English nationalists who have foisted this upon us and the affects that it will have here will be felt much deeper. I think that this is going to be enough to shake nationalism out of a decade and a half of apathy and stagnation. We will have to wait until the next assembly election to see whether that is or is not the case.

    I think that many of the deep divisions in terms of the long term aspirations for the type of country that we want to live in and be part of which have been papered over in the last few years are going to be reopened and wont be closed until they are fully addressed. Not with rhetoric and unionist / nationalist dogma but hard facts and a clear way forward that the majority of people in this region can buy into.

  • cu chulainn

    In recent times there has been comparative stability and the unionist vote has held up well from expedient unionists who wanted that stability. Hubris took over the DUP who thought that they could seal off the border and get the EU money transferred to London. But this offers only instability and the people of NI want to go back to how things were, while their First Minister seeks to undermine peace and the economy and hurls abuse at Nicola Sturgeon for representing the Scottish people. What future do we have being lead by someone who refuse to cooperate either with the rest of the people on this island or the people in Scotland?

  • cu chulainn

    The problem is that a first cousin of EEA, which might seem much the same as the EU in Londo, might well exclude agriculture and might so be pretty disruptive in NI.

  • lizmcneill

    If there was reason to believe that a referendum in NI would be majority for UI, do you think Westminster would renege on the GFA to provide one? England would probably be glad to have NI be someone else’s problem.

    This is all hypothetical, of course, as we don’t have evidence public opinion has tipped to a pro-UI direction (yet).

  • cu chulainn

    If Arlene wants to kill the border poll then she should ensure that there is no material disadvantage to leaving the EU, no border checks, no extra paperwork, no loss of rights of any sort. This is what the people of NI want.

  • Biftergreenthumb

    “if sufficient numbers appear to be in favour of a border poll, will Unionism allow that democratic act to unfold?”
    From what I understand (I may be wrong) only the SoS can call a border poll and only if s/he thinks there is a reasonable chance that a unity outcome would win. “Unionism” would have no say in the matter other than to actually turn out and vote when the referendum is held.

  • Skibo

    Criteria for the calling of a border poll, as you noted, is when one MUST be called. It doesn’t mean that one cannot be called until the is evidence of a majority. The other criteria is another poll cannot be call for another seven years.

  • Skibo

    “1. The Secretary of State may by order direct the holding of a poll for thepurposes of section 1 on a date specified in the order.
    2. Subject to paragraph 3, the Secretary of State shall exercise the power under paragraph 1 if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.
    3. The Secretary of State shall not make an order under paragraph 1
    earlier than seven years after the holding of a previous poll under this
    As I read it, the SOS can call a poll at any time but he MUST call a poll if it appears likely that the majority wish to cease the UK.
    Once it has been run, it cannot be run for another seven years.

  • Skibo

    If Arlene believes she can win a border poll easily then the best way to kill the idea for a number of years is to hold one.
    perhaps she isn’t as confident as she makes out

  • Skibo

    Unfortunately the next census will not be run till 2021 and will probably take a year or two to publish the results.

  • cu chulainn

    Arlene is not so much afraid of the poll, she might win that. She is afraid of the process of discussion that would be associated with it. This would address how a UI would work, and would look at economics etc. It would lead to interesting data becoming available and once this was out in open the discussion would never be the same again, even if the first poll did not succeed.

    What she wants is the present situation where someone runs a public opinoon poll asking if you want a UI without any details whatsoever about how this would work. Unlike the English electorate who were happy to vote for Brexit without the least clue about how to bring it about, the NI electorate would require some more information.

  • AntrimGael

    I remain deeply sceptical about anything Enda Kenny, FG or FF say about the North. They have shown over the decades that they are rabid partitionists and Unionists in all but name but now that their own interests may be affected are they starting to make noises. Of course Kenny is only stating the obvious; after Brexit politics in these islands have moved on to another dimension completely with constitutional issues now firmly on the table.
    The imperialist, colonial, land grabbing Union is finished, gone like the flowers in November, and Scotland will break away within 5 years. Wales will continue to be self loathing, England’s holiday home and hanging on to London’s pinafore while like East and West Germany and South Vietnam, the North will return to it’s natural Irish hinterland no matter what Unionists say or do. The two main Nationalist parties MUST now grow a pair and start planning for a future on an all island dimension. This perpetual tip toeing around never ending UnIonist ‘sensitivities’ and fawning over the DUP MUST also stop forthwith.
    The next step has be for the SDLP and FF or FG to form some sort of coalition and stand as one all Ireland party in EVERY 32 constituency North and South. Unionists and Loyalists will make all the usual sectarian, sabre rattling doomsday nonsense but so what. The days when their violence and anarchy has a veto over the entire island cannot be allowed to further hinder the natural progression of Irish unity.

  • cu chulainn

    Scotland is the issue here. QEII might live without NI, but might be keen on the union of her Kingdoms. One suspects that May might go for BINO (Brexit in name only) which keeps Scotland on board and allows the operation of the Irish border in much the same way as usual.

  • Obelisk

    Let’s be honest there are no good solutions to this problem. Any deal with either break the economy or be a betrayal of the Brexit vote because it achieved nothing beyond removing the UK’s voice in Brussels.

  • Thomas Barber

    Brian the yardstick for calling a border poll grows everytime someone from the British controlled part of Ireland applies for Irish citizenship and at this point in time the applications for Irish citizenship from that same quarter has gone through the roof. If we are left in a situation where there are more Irish citizens in the British controlled part of Ireland than British passport holders then the British SOS will have to answer calls from the Irish government for a border poll.

    Like Nicola Sturgeon says

    “We’re in uncharted territory and when you’re in uncharted territory
    with effectively a blank sheet of paper in front of you then you have
    an opportunity to try to think things that might have previously been
    unthinkable and shape the future,”

  • the keep

    That being the case will you accept democracy when you are beaten?

  • cu chulainn

    NI did not vote to Leave and this is where the agricultural issues arise. Other arrangements can be made for other islands if the people there wish.

  • Kevin Breslin

    There are sub-optimal solutions certainly, and betraying the Brexit vote is an unavoidable zeitgeist for now.

    Switzerland is outside the EEA and has somewhat open borders via Schengen, Turkey is outside the EEA but has a customs union.

    The CTA which predates the EU is protected by its own Amsterdam Treaty. It’s not safe from English, Welsh, Scottish and some Ulster based fears of phantom foreigners however.

    I certainly think Northern Ireland needs to engineer whatever the UK Brexit vote throws at us. We engineered the Good Friday Agreement, and effectively Europe becomes our unwritten Forth Strand.

  • Declan Doyle

    Thats for the people to decide but yes, should a poll fail to secure a United Ireland the overwhelming majority of Nationalists and Republicans will accept that along with the governments in both Dublin and London. However, will you accept the result if it should go the other way?

  • npbinni

    Maybe we should just call their bluff. As part of the package we should begin looking at conditions for the Republic to join an expanded UK, and also ways to secure the border with walls, electric fences, etc in the pretty certain event of NI deciding to remain in the UK. Just think of the employment it would create. 😉

  • Kevin Breslin

    Funny how no one argues about how many jobs have those peace walls in Belfast have created?

  • Thomas Barber

    Or Northern Ireland could reunite with the rest of Ireland and Scotland could join in a union of Ireland and Scotland. The result of the Trident vote is the final nail in the coffin for the union and a hard border in Ireland will be the final nail in the coffin for the GFA.

  • Ryan A

    I’d agree. Plus there is the fact they will never be honest about how much tax is really raised here, never mind all the other stuff they charge to us we in the North could live without; Defence and Trident being one obvious example.

  • Dan

    Is it the super hot weather that’s messing with the deluded heads of the tinpot leaders within Irish Nationalism/Reoublicanism?
    There’s no other explanation for the bullshit they’ve been coming out with recently.

  • Twilight of the Prods

    Overheated commentary on this for the most part. Beginning with the original post, I’m afraid.

    Enda uses the terms ‘fanciful’ and ’10, 15 or 20 years’ in discussing potential border poll timescales and support for unity. This is not Hibernia Irridenta re-envisioned. Its low key and from his point of view common sense.

    3 reasons why Enda spoke about this

    1-Its exactly what it says on the tin. Its in the Dublin government’s specific interest that if a border poll resolves to unite the island, that the process is not hampered or complicated by the new post Brexit architecture. Whatever that architecture looks like it will be with us for a generation. A border poll could indeed be called in that timeframe.

    2-Is very important. Its a further play for a soft border between the Irish state and the UK. This speech is the beginnings of flagging this up to the EU – ‘the Brexit negotiations can affect our peace process – be mindful of this, make allowance’ is the message. This is in the interests of both the British and Irish states.

    3-There is a small bit of nationalist politics – its a low volume response to some FF statements; and also a small indicator that the Irish government understands northern nationalist concern.

    Thats it, I would suggest.

    As a unionist, I’m not bothered by Enda (or FF). I am bothered by Brexit as it has part shafted nationalist co-citizens who were willing to live in, if not love, the Union. And it may lever Scotland out of the Union.

    We cant do much about Brexit or Scotland but we should do something for Nationalists in this matter.

  • npbinni

    jk, guys! my suggestions are as ludicrous as mr kenny’s.

  • the keep

    Yes you see its called democracy.

  • Reader

    So, the question is: do you want a poll this year based on the fear of Brexit if that rules out another poll in 2 years when the reality hits?

  • eamoncorbett

    You seem to have a good grasp of the problems but I would like to see some of the solutions you propose.

  • erasmus

    Guys, let’s cool the jets. A seed has been planted by Brexit which could conceivably result in a UI in the fullness of time. Too much of a song and dance will strangle it at birth.

  • Declan Doyle

    Fully aware of that although it seems to cause u a few problems.

  • JR

    Well that is something that would require a lot more thought, it is easier to see the problems than the solutions. The main objective would be a pro European pro British democracy with access to the single market, an emphases on an educated workforce and a low corporation tax rate to attract inward investment and to grow small export businesses.A self sustaining country not reliant opn or hamstrung by the polocies of a country with very different needs and values.

    Some of the obvious things would involve symbols. Certain things that are already in place here which take into account different traditions would be incorporated into the new state. Such as the right for an area or road to not have bilingual signage, there should be no compulsion on people who don’t want to learn irish etc. There are many protestant schools in the south and I would imagine that protestant state schools could enter this system. guarantees around parading and marching rights. New national flag, new national anthem better incorporating both traditions. possibly special designation / voting rights / veto even for designated unionst parties.

    Safeguards in terms of infrastructure and development spending in “Unionist areas”

    Strong integration with the New Ireland Military and the British army. there are loads of things but really the best people to give ideas on this are small U unionists rather than nationalists talking among their selves.

    A good starting point would be to look at northern Ireland from 1922 to 1969 and do exactly the opposite.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Could we actually reverse this accusation, where is the DUP advocating their Union in the Brexit negotiations?

    Perhaps, even they know some of the fallout of Brexit makes the logistics of the Union more difficult.

  • cu chulainn

    Very good post. Tell Arlene Foster.

  • jonno99

    That is just your conspiracy theory…..the all knowing wise UK govt didn’t foresee Brexit…..your case doesn’t really stand up

  • jonno99

    If only……..the scenario you paint is very dependent on the nationalist parties agreeing on a 32 county plan of action. Do you honestly see that happening? Brexit is a process of extrication from the EU, an organisation which in itself doesn’t have a stable future. Timescales are not helping either. Two years on the Brexit conditions for exit will be known. Will FG/FF be on board for pushing for even setting up in NI? Do you remember all the hype that the GFA would lead to a united Ireland by 2016?

  • the keep

    Sorry are you a bit slow it was a UK based referendum what part of that dont you understand?

  • dcomplex

    If the GFA was ended and attacks on British territory occurred with the support of the Irish government, I think what would happen is a shooting war between Britain and Ireland.

    Reunification of Ireland will not happen from a resurgence of IRA paramilitary activity. The demographics indicate that the border poll will eventually be won without a shot being fired.

    Is it worth risking your life and your country to make sure reunification happens before Gerry Adams croaks? Get real.

    Hard border or no, renouncing the GFA is only shooting yourself in the foot.

  • dcomplex

    I think that the NI electorate will vote patriotically against becoming a German satrapy like the Republic is today.

  • dcomplex

    It may also be that some unionists voted against Brexit because SF effectively threatened to restart the troubles.

  • dcomplex

    Question: If unionist paramilitaries formed in NI in response to a UI, do you think that the UI government will be as merciful as the UK govt? Or do you think they’ll probably turn the unionists into proper Englishmen, by deporting them to England?

  • dcomplex

    Or she could do what Spain does and refuse another referendum.

  • jonno99

    Ok Ciaran the ‘British Establishment’ didn’t foresee Brexit………or may be they did but neglected to inform the UK govt? Either way it’s not surprising they are pro union, as in pro UK. The GFA & St Andrews are at best agreements that enable nationalist political objectives. The timescales are too slow for some hence the excitement over Brexit and the potential opportunities for nationalists in Ireland especially NI.

  • John Collins

    Very good reading of Kenny’s intentions indeed and a very generous reading of the post Bretix ‘situation’ in NI.

  • John Collins

    Very sensible suggestion indeed. Too ‘much pig in the poke’ stuff about what Bretix might look like going on.

  • “Europe” just isn’t that important in the North, unless it’s exploited as a new tune on the nationalist drum”

    After the Brexit result I noticed a very clear increase in not just nationalists but soft unionists and people who consider themselves as neither (esp liberal types) all taking an interest in a United Ireland (in some form).

    That’s not to mention that we often forget that constitutional change could be presented in a new way and not as a ‘United Ireland’ per se (I’ve seen various ideas bandied about on Slugger and elsewhere), which would increase this effect.

    I’m not convinced that the new conversations about the constitution – however much unionists would like this to be the case – can be written off as nationalists playing politics post-Brexit vote. Especially if Brexit starts to bite them, there will be those who are politically ‘other’ and those who are only nominally/ culturally unionist who might surprise us in how flexible on the concept of the Union they really are. Especially if any change is presented in a generous, inclusive, even original way.

    The day after the Brexit vote I replied to a SF tweet by saying I hoped they had some very new ideas and new thinking along these lines to present to everyone in NI (not just their own voters), as I can’t remember there ever being a more receptive audience out there for a conversation about the constitution.

    Unionism shouting ‘never, never, never’ at the debate – or waving it aside as over-excitable nationalism – won’t prevent it from happening. I think their voters deserve better and, if my rambling thoughts are anywhere near correct and the constitutional debate does gain further traction behind expectation and in new ways, yet again they’ll be poorly represented by representatives who fail to engage, using leadership, in what is happening around them, then complain their own voters have been hard done by in the outcomes.

  • Thomas Barber

    How did you get the above DC from what I posted ?

    The reality is a hard border with custom controls etc goes against the spirit of the GFA. All Irish citizens in would be denied freedom of movement in their own country by a tiny minority of British citizens in Ireland.

    Why should the Irish people accept that ?

  • Enda

    If anything it goes to show how much of the UK is actually united. People really sell themselves out when they take the side of, “it was a UK wide vote”, who cares? Anyone with a brain can see that the North is in no way connected to England. It’s a very subservient position to take when you side with a decision that could have disastrous consequences for the provence, but hey, as long as people can clap like seals when a royal baby is born, and wipe their dribbling chins with a union flag then who cares, right?

    It also goes to show the hypocrisy of British democracy. When one island, that is one constitutional entity within the UK, votes overwhelmingly in favor of independence, unity is ignored and a false majority is created in a small area where people voted a different way to ensure that the union is intact. When different parts of that union vote different ways in any future referendum well that’s tough, it’s all one union.

    Double standards. British democracy is great when it suits the establishment.

  • Enda


  • dcomplex

    It would likely be Ireland herself imposing the border controls (due to customs duties imposed agains the UK).

  • dcomplex

    Look at how Sri Lanka dealt with their LTTE, and thank your lucky stars you live in the British Isles.

  • dcomplex

    Claiming it would result in the abrogation of the GFA has only one meaning… Or do you think Gerry and Martin meant they were going to surrender all of those IRA members amnestied during the negotiations and as a result of GFA.

  • Thomas Barber

    Thats still doesn’t change the reality that a tiny minority of British citizens on the island of Ireland would be responsible for obstructing the free movement of Irish citizens on the island of Ireland.

    Once again why should the Irish people accept that injustice ?

  • Skibo

    Well they didn’t during the Brexit. Perhaps if they were given the facts and figures on what a UI would look like, a reasonable amount of wallet voters would plum for a UI.

  • Thomas Barber

    Lizzy would still be the Queen of Scotland even if Scotland left the union.

  • Skibo

    Answer is no.
    I want the Brexit negotiations to take place and the results to be declared. How the replacement for the EU money that comes here would be guaranteed regardless of who is in power. How farmers would be compensated for the loss of the SFP etc, etc.
    I want those who believe in a UI to discuss what would a UI look like, how would it be paid for, what would the effect on peoples pockets be, how would we provide a health care free at access point be provided etc etc.
    Then I would want a poll.
    NI in the UK but out of the EU V NI out of the UK united with ROI in the EU.
    The EU would have to be involved with a package similar to the one that assisted German reunification. I trust the USA would not be found wanting either.
    The UK would not just walk away if the result was for reunification. I would hazard a guess at ten years while the UK would still finance NI at an ever reducing percentage while the economy of the ROI takes over.
    There is a place in history for the politician who finally solves the Irish problem. Perhaps the EU will take this on board.
    Either way there is going to be massive ramifications for both economies.
    A vote to stay in the UK would result in seven stable years of Stormont rule before the issue could be raised again.

  • dcomplex

    And join the Eurozone and leave themselves at the mercy of the likes of Wolfgang Schäuble? Dream on.

    Ironically, your best bet for the republic getting a hold of the so-called wallet voters in the medium term soon is to leave the Eurozone.

  • dcomplex

    A tiny minority of people in the British Isles obstructing Free Movement of citizens of the British Isles, etc. etc.

  • Skibo

    Would Wolfgang be any worse than the Treasury in Westminster? They have cut our budget year on year and we can do nothing. A mere 2% in Westminster, what power do we have?
    The South has too much invested in the EU to walk away. They are true Europeans while the UK only ever paid lip service to the whole notion.
    Perhaps with us gone, they will move on from strength to strength.

  • Barneyt

    I sense Martin is reeling back from his comments a tad….qualifying them to some extent. I was surprised that Enda chimed in….but would the FG reunification solution not mean a return to the British Commonwealth and the current republic being dissolved? Who knows. Can the genie be put back in the bottle…if it suits they will. I was surprised both FF and FG went down the reunificationborder poll path. Why are they doing this now…when they know it aligns them with SF on the matter.

  • Dassa

    What are theses facts and figures that show that here in NI we would be financially better off in NI? Hear them generally mentioned just never actually seen them.

  • dcomplex

    Is Norn Eire really in as dire straits as Greece, Italy, or Portugal? Those are the handiwork of Herr Schäuble.

    We are talking drastic tax rises and budget cuts, laying waste to pensions, inability to buy medicine, and mass-scale unemployment. NI’s unemployment rate is about 1% higher than UK average at 5.9%.

    The unemployment rate in the republic is around 10%, and around 20% in the countries I mentioned. You want austerity, look at RI.

  • Skibo

    We are not sure how NI is actually doing. There are those who say it is running at a deficit of between 1 and 3 billion pounds. Unionists seem to be proud of the fact it is nearer £10 billion.
    We probably will see a certain amount of increased taxes if there was a united Ireland but the future growth would reduce that considerably.
    NI unemployment rate is at 5.9% but the GVA of NI is £17,948.
    The unemployment rate of the ROI is 7.9 but the GVA of ROI is 37,186 euros.
    The unemployment rate for ROI is expected to be 5.9 in 2020 but if there is reunification before this I would expect that to rise with the reduction in the public sector.
    What was your point.
    Oh yes the issue of Greece, Italy and Portugal.
    Unemployment rate of Italy is 11.2%. They are the eighth biggest economy in the world.
    Unemployment rate of Portugal is 12.2%
    Unemployment rate of Greece is 24.4%
    I would have thought the percentage of economically inactive people would be more important. We in NI have a percentage of 26.8% inactive. I cannot find a figure for Ireland.
    What was your point again?

  • Skibo

    Dassa, there was a paper written by a University in Canada about the benefits of a united Ireland.
    They recon the joint economies would be better off by £35.6B in the first eight years of reunification. The majority of this benefit would be felt in the North.
    I will see if i can find the paper and post a link
    Just think when there was partition the Souths economic market was less than NIs. Now it is 15 times the size of ours.
    They had 7.8% growth last year. We had 0.8%. They have an ever increasing standard of life. Ours is going down all the time.
    Interesting report on the quality of life in the UK. We come 136 out of 138.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It’s so much hot air.

    What has been interesting is that it’s caught nationalism out. Turns out, the old nationalist parties aren’t quite as post-nationalist as we had been led to believe. Certainly not averse to a bit of opportunist green flag-waving.

    You have to laugh. Such grand plans for the distant future, such disconnection from present day realities.

  • Well, not quite “written by a University in Canada “…

    But don’t worry about it, Skibo.

    We read it on Slugger the first time out.

    When is “an independent study” on Irish unification not independent?

    And, again on the relaunch.

    The report’s Canadian authors made their numbers add up by using a ‘Tory island’ model of small government, low taxes, free markets and no debt…

    As they were, no doubt, commissioned to do by those jolly Knights…

  • Skibo

    Pete, okay the Institute for European Studies at the University of British Columbia. I didn’t have time then to check the publishers.
    Tell me are the writers of the report considered independent? Does it matter who requested the report?
    Here is another one not as detailed by Michael Burke.

  • Try again, Skibo.

    “Does it matter who requested the report?”

    Don’t ask me. Ask the fictional Knights of the Red Branch. Or Sinn Féin’s Director of Finance…

    And they didn’t request it. They paid for it. From a consultancy firm owned by the lead author. Aided and abetted by the same Michael Burke.

  • dcomplex

    The expected unemployment rate in RoI is expected to be 5.9%… if there is no return of the Eurozone crisis.

    And you complain about the GVA of Northern Ireland, but the reason why it is lower than RI is severalfold: One, the IRA-led Troubles damaged the economy of NI while RI remained peaceful. Two, the Irish GVA includes Dublin, which is the HQ of lots of large international firms due to Ireland’s use of tax arbitrage. In Britain, those kinds of firms move to London, and if NI joined RI, it’s unlikely that those businesses would decide to move to Belfast or Londonderry. Three, Irish GVA in general is distorted by the same things as her GDP vs GNP/GNI (see link). Essentially, because RI is the location of so many international corporations, GDP is seriously distorted and does not really reflect the country’s national income.

  • Skibo

    Copying a link that demands payment is not helpful.
    Would you prefer to look at GNI (PPP)? ROI $38870 compared to $37970 for the whole of the UK. Now bear in mind that NI came 136th in 138 regions of the UK.
    Are you telling me the investment in Dublin has a greater effect than the City of London?
    If the island was reunited then there is a very great possibility that Belfast will share in this foreign investment.
    As for your comment on the effect of te unemployment rate of the ROI being effected by Brexit, I would suggest that the effect would be multiple in NI. The UK will pool extra revenue into London and the South East to protect the sacred cow.
    We are merely the runt sucking the hind tit of a sow that is drying off!

  • Skibo

    Did you read the report or are you like most staunch unionists and just throw it out as it does not support your ideas?
    Have you looked at who wrote the report?

    Kurt Hübner
    Dr. Kurt Hübner received his PhD in Economics and Political Science from the Free University
    Berlin, Germany. He is a professor at the Political Science Department at the University of
    British Columbia and holds the Jean Monnet Chair for European Integration and Global Political
    Economy. Currently he acts as the director of the Institute for European Studies at UBC. He has
    published 12 books and numerous articles in journals. His most recent books are ‘Europe,
    Canada, and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement’ (Routledge 2011) and ‘Global
    Currency Competition and Cooperation’ (publication date: Routledge 2015).
    Hübner’s expertise is in the area of European integration in the context of the global political
    economy as well as in the Political Economy of Germany. His main focus is on the Euro, and the
    role of the Euro in global currency relations as well as the economic mode of governance. A
    further area of expertise is the relation between international competitiveness, innovation and
    sustainability where he headed several projects in the past. His most recent project in this are
    deals with ‘National Pathways to Low Carbon Emission Economies’. Over the last years he also
    contributed to the analysis and assessment of CETA and TTIP. In the past few years he also
    directed projects for Vancouver-based KLC – a consulting company that focuses on European and North American economic and political relations.

    Dr. Renger Van Nieuwkoop
    Since 2011 Lecturer and researcher (part-time), ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
    Since 2009 Director and Founder Modelworks, Thun.
    Since 2003 Lecturer, Ecomod, Workshops advanced applied computational equilibrium
    modeling, Brussels, Washington, Bangkok, Prague.
    2010-2015 PhD Student, Center for Energy Policy and Economics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
    1992-2012 Senior consultant, member of the board (until 2010), Ecoplan, Bern, Switzerland.
    Mainly working for the government.
    1988-1992 Assistant, Institute for Applied Microeconomics, Prof. G. Stephan, University
    Bern, Switzerland.
    1984-1988 Physiotherapist, Hospital Permanence (part-time), Bern, Switzerland.
    1984-1988 Physiotherapist, Hospital Sonnenhof, Bern, Switzerland.
    2010-2015 Dr. of Sciences, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, supervisors; Prof. T. Rutherford, Prof.
    S. Rausch and Prof. K. Axhausen.
    2006-2009 Diploma in Advanced Studies in Applied Statistics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
    1985-1990 Lic.rer.pol (master), University of Berne, Switzerland.
    1980-1984 Diploma Physiotherapy, Stichtung Utrechtse Paramedische Akademie,
    1971-1977 Gymnasium Diploma, Reformatorisch College Blaise Pascal, Zaandam,

    Can you point me to a report where it says how great the NI economy will perform under the UK? Things have not been going too well since partition.
    The ROI however has went from 45% of UK GDP in 1922 to 122% of UK GDP in 2014.

  • Croiteir

    This is entirely about the South. The north only has an interest to the southern parties when their is a risk to them, otherwise it may as well be Burkino Faso, hence the recent scrambling for something to say on Brexit, and then the clarification two days later.