Has unification been sacrificed to boredom?

I’m off again to busy myself elsewhere, earning money rather than spending it! I leave you today with this from Frank McGahon on the attractiveness of partition from a southern Republican point of view..

  • Frank McGahon

    Thanks for the link Mick!

    I don’t know if it’s exactly boredom, although there is quite a lot of NI ennui in the RoI, just that while there is wide (expressed) support here for a United Ireland, in principle and at some undefined point in the future, my guess is that this support is shallow and that a weighted question such as I proposed “How much would you personally be prepared to pay for a United Ireland?” would expose considerably more apathy than enthusiasm for the prospect.

    Of course this is just a guess and it’s entirely possible that such a poll would unearth a deep commitment to unity but neither apathy or commitment is demonstrated by the simpler (uncosted) question: “Do you want a United Ireland?” which is typically used to justify the belief that a vast majority of those in the RoI seeks unity.

  • Ringo

    After 83 years of independence (and in particular 30 of absolute mayhem north of the border and 10 years of unprecedented prosperity to the south) why would anyone think that a united Ireland is top of our Christmas wish list?

  • Keith M

    It’s not boredom as much as apathy. People in this country have very little interest in Northern Ireland as long as he place is peaceful. We look over the border and see their politicians, and suddenly our own lot don’t seem so bad. We look at the tribal nature of society and we think we’re going back in history. For the last 40 years we’ve had people telling us about the problems in your counttry” and we hastilly explain it’s not our country. Partition is now firmly established in the mentality of the people of this country. Paradoxically it’s people like Peter Robinson who reflect the opinon of most of the people here; we too want to be good neighbours, but we don’t want you to be part of our family.

  • unionist_observer

    Spot on article, from my experience, though limited at Ringo points out, people are not hugely concerned with Northern Ireland down here in the republic.

  • PS

    With all due respect, Keith and Rebecca are far from typical of the average person living south of the border.

  • smcgiff

    Not sure if I’m atypical or not, but I would say most people in the ROI would not exactly run the marathon to bring about a UI.

    IMO, a significant number of SF voters in the ROI would vote for SF for reasons other than their constitutional views.

    As for the costs argument, I think people in the ROI would begrudge it, but would be convinced to vote yes in a unification poll. This I have no doubt about.

  • smcgiff

    Not sure if I’m atypical or not, but I would say most people in the ROI would not exactly run the marathon to bring about a UI.

    IMO, a significant number of SF voters in the ROI would vote for SF for reasons other than their constitutional views.

    As for the costs argument, I think people in the ROI would begrudge it, but would be convinced to vote yes in a unification poll. This I have no doubt about.

  • smcgiff

    Not sure if I’m atypical or not, but I would say most people in the ROI would not exactly run the marathon to bring about a UI.

    IMO, a significant number of SF voters in the ROI would vote for SF for reasons other than their constitutional views.

    As for the costs argument, I think people in the ROI would begrudge it, but would be convinced to vote yes in a unification poll. This I have no doubt about.

  • smcgiff

    Jaysus! So egotistical I posted my thoughts trice!

  • Fraggle

    Ah Keith, the old, “I’m all right, Jack!” attitude. You remind me of some Fine Gael voting relative I have.

  • IJP

    the old, “I’m all right, Jack!” attitude.

    Like it or not, that’s the view most people hold.

    Take something as simple as reforming the Northern economy (necessary for a ‘UI’ anyway, btw) – it won’t happen, because too many NI residents are ‘all right, Jack, thank you very much’.

  • CavanMan

    An Outstanding article.
    The vast majority of Irish in the the Republic do want a United Ireland,in which all traditions could co-operate peacefully,however most are not amused to hear of the possible financial implications of reunification.Oh well we could raise the money like we always do..Bend over and let the E.U take over.;)

  • Chucky R. Law

    As time moves on I think most people will just become less bothered about a UI.
    Especially…
    – since there is some semblence of peace in NI, most of our concern was actually for the people
    – Ireland is becoming more multi-cultural, our country is changing, time to move on

    Truth is most people are just bored of NI, as insensitive as that may seem to be it’s fact that after 30 + years of bickering we’re tired of you lot. 😉

    The “we” here means me, myself and I as I can’t speak for anyone else.

  • Fraggle

    not so tired of us that you avoid websites devoted to our bickering!

  • Chucky R. Law

    I have to get my kicks somehow…

  • Henry94

    KiethM

    As a DUP supporter you are hardly representative of southern opinion. Speak for yourself by all means but I can’t think of a single elected person in the south who would share your position. Can you?

  • slackjaw

    In the event of a referendum on unification, I have no doubt that most voters would say yes, whatever the reservations they may have about costs.

    But you have to get to the point where a referendum is held first, and it is hard to escape the conclusion that in the Republic there is no general desire or political will to get there. Chucky R. Law is probably right. One senses that the now prosperous electorate here has other aspirational fish to fry – property abroad, trade links with US and China etc.

    Any impetus that could exist for unification that could exist would be contingent on ‘proper political progress’ in the North. IMO, the electorate’s opinion of what constitutes ‘proper political progress’ more or less mirrors the expressed opinion of its elected government i.e. as long as they’re not killing each other, we’ll go along with whatever is expedient.

    On a related topic, the DUP idea of ‘good neighbourly relations’ doesn’t really get a great press among supporters of unification, because it implicitly acknowledges the existence of two states. However, I think it is ‘good neighbourly relations’ that may end up being the mechanism that provides the impetus for unification.

    A unified Irish state, IMO, could only happen once a substantial majority of all traditions on this island are able to think of, and speak of all its inhabitants in terms of a collective ‘we’.
    Perhaps the logical stepping stone to that is the idea of ‘we neighbours’?

  • Keith M

    Henry 94; as I’ve said repeatedly, I am not a DUP supporter, it is simply a case that since 1998 that party has most closely reflected my opinions on N.I. issues. I look forward to the day the UUP come to their senses. The only party I actively support is the PDs, which has little or nothing to do about N.I.

    I have no idea how >95% of the elected representatives in this country feel on Northern Ireland as the broader subject (as distinct from the latest crisis in the “peace process”) of future North/South relations is so rarely spoken about here, which proves my point when you think about it.

  • Keith M

    Slackjaw ; “In the event of a referendum on unification, I have no doubt that most voters would say yes, whatever the reservations they may have about costs.”

    In my experience people don’t vote for higher taxes and given that maintaining the level of subvention which the UK taxpayer provides to N.I. would require a 20%-25% increase (i.e potential pushing the top rate over 60%) the rates on income tax people pay here (or a corresponding increase in indirect taxation), I’d be pretty certain that any referendum would fail. Of course Northern Irish people (and those in this country) could learn to live with severely lower levels of public services, but I think that would be even more unpopular.

    Believe me, when you look at the finances involved you realise very quickly why no one alive today will see a “united Ireland” (in the way SF use the phrase).

  • smcgiff

    ‘require a 20%-25% increase’

    We’ve looked at this before KeithM, and would like to challenge your 20% figure.

    First of all, I assume you’re implying a 20%+ increase in Income Tax. Can you show me the math?

  • maca

    Keith,
    The government would never push such a tax increase on us. No doubt we’d screw the EU as well as the British Government for every penny we could get thus minimising any tax increase. I could see the Brits continuing the subvention for 10 years.
    Also, if a UI at any stage looks likely we’ll have lots of notice, years in fact. So lots of time to start filling the piggy banks.

    ‘no one alive today will see a “united Ireland”‘

    It’s quite possible as George W is likely to kill half of us during the next 4 years.

  • Davros

    Seamus! What is “math” ? Mathematic ? What’s that ?;)

  • smcgiff

    Stop pointing out how influenced we are by our US relations! 😉

  • Henry94

    KiethM

    For someone who claims to be a PD you have very old-fashioned notions about tax

    maintaining the level of subvention which the UK taxpayer provides to N.I. would require a 20%-25% increase (i.e potential pushing the top rate over 60%)

    Every PD child knows that increasing tax at that rate would reduce revenue so it would be counter-productive.

    What would be required are tax cuts to incentivise the norths economy and bring it up to the level of prosperity enjoyed by the already liberated part of the country.

  • smcgiff

    *Taps fingers*

    Whatever figure KeithM comes up with, I’d like to add something to the pot I’m fairly certain wont be considered by KeithM.

    A large part of ‘The Cost’ or existing subvention that has been mooted can be traced back to the uniquely high levels of public sector in NI. Now, there are many reasons why this is so, but one is certainly a ‘job creation’ policy.

    Considering the ROI’s need for skilled workers I think we can, in the medium term, transition NI’s existing economy to be more in congruence with the ROI’s. Removing a single public sector job provides the double benefit of reducing public pay and increasing contribution.

    Heck, given long enough stability and taxes will reduce for ALL of us.

  • Keith M

    smcgiff,I stated that I was talking about the potential impact on income tax. The number crunching was done about two years ago so it will be out of date, so that’s why I’ve put in a range. In the interim the subvention has increased in real terms, but because the tax take in this country and exchange rates have gone up, the impact on rates may be marginally smaller. For a quick calculation just look the value of the subvention, then compare it to the total income tax take and do the “math”. It’s truely frightening!

    Maca “No doubt we’d screw the EU as well as the British Government for every penny we could get thus minimising any tax increase”, the EU already has plenty of REAL needy coountries that deserve regional funding. Don’t forget Ireland is soon to be a net contributor to the EU (if it isn’t already) and the UK has always been. Even when countries like Poland are brought closer to the EU average, there are more countries in the queue; Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey should keep the EU busy for 20-30 years, then you get places like Ukraine which are bigger (and poorer).

    Henry 94 “Every PD child knows that increasing tax at that rate would reduce revenue so it would be counter-productive.”. Sing it to the Shinners sister!

  • Ringo

    Maca –

    we’d screw the EU as well as the British Government for every penny we could get thus minimising any tax increase.

    while I can see that the British government might be more than willing to buy itself out of the north, why would the EU want to put money into essentially re-aligning borders it is intent on removing anyway?

    On the whole I think Maca’s original posting is the most apolitical and accurate picture.

    Henry94 and PS’s comments which basically state that KeithM and UO’s views can be ignored because they are not representative are typical Sinn Fein and probably the least credible. Again – either of ye two live in the Republic? Or like cg are you armchair southerners, listening to what your fawning shinner brethern up for a visit to the battle ground are saying?

    There is a catch 22 situation. Nobody will take the idea of a UI as a serious possibility down south until the north is a stable normalised society. And when/if it gets to that point, why would anyone want to consider upsetting the equilibrium by totally changing the political environment again? And if you have a normalised stable society in the north for a few decades coupled with prosperity who is to say that the nationalist people of the north won’t do like the southerners and say ‘was a nice idea, but way too much hassle. Jack, I’m alright too.’

  • Keith M

    smcgiff “Considering the ROI’s need for skilled workers I think we can, in the medium term.” How many excess nurses does Northern Ireland have? Did it not occur to you that those who would wish to move to this country to fill our jobs already have? Even if you make 100,000 public servants redundant, how many would be willing to move to this country and indeed how many would have the skills to do the jobs that are available here. I’m afraid that this is a complete red herring. The only difference it would make is that people would be claiming the lower welfare payments rather than earning their money. If you want to see the impact of what deregulation can mean to an ecoonomy previously reliant on the state section, take a trip to East Germany!

  • maca

    Keith
    “Don’t forget Ireland is soon to be a net contributor to the EU … … ..”
    I’m sure we’d sweet talk them into some sort of financial deal. There’s no doubt that we’d give it a lash and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they gave us something.

    Ringo
    “why would the EU want to put money into essentially re-aligning borders it is intent on removing anyway?”

    Same as Keiths really. We’d chance our arm…

    They may not give us anything, but I think it is a possibility. Would they not be happy to see unification and a possible end to the troubles?
    A more stable IONA benefit the EU as a whole.

  • smcgiff

    ‘take a trip to East Germany!’

    Firstly, I do not posses a time machine, and if you are comparing NI to East Germany then, congratulations, my estimation of how wrong you can be has increased from the heady heights from where it hovered pre your last post.

    ‘How many excess nurses does Northern Ireland have?’

    *Deep breaths* I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain NI’s unique public sector. But, I’m guessing you’d be hard pressed to find even the most staunch of unionists that wouldn’t admit that NI’s public sector is not ‘normal’.

    ‘Did it not occur to you that those who would wish to move to this country to fill our jobs already have?’

    Who said anything about moving? Do you even get the concept of a NI? HINT – Northern Ireland doesn’t get melted down and poured into a mould off the coast of Cork.

    ‘The only difference it would make is that people would be claiming the lower welfare payments rather than earning their money.’

    I’ve obviously a higher opinion of the NI populace and their education system than you have.

  • smcgiff

    I obviously didn’t breath deep enough – Should have read…

    Do you even get the concept of a UI?

  • George

    Ringo,
    I live in the Republic and the opinions vary wildly depending on where you live. No doubt Keithm and unionist observer spend most of their time in the more well off spots of Dublin where the idea of unification is not bandied about very often.

    Head in to the working class areas, go south to Cork and Kerry or west to Mayo or north to the border regions and you’ll find a much more “republican” atttitude.

    By republican, I mean a belief that should unification be on the table it has to be grabbed if it is available peacefully.

    As for your point of a couple of decades of prosperity, considering Northern Ireland still hasn’t got a representative government after 84 years of existence and is now at around 69% of the south’s per capita GDP with lower project mid-term growth rates, it won’t catch up anytime soon.

    NI has the same wealth gap on the rest of the UK (20% poorer) as it did in 1997 and with growth rates in the UK set to be about 2-3% in the coming years and 4-5% in the Republic, the gap can only grow. And the SSIAs could push the rate to 6-7% in 2006-2007.

    The evidence indicates it will fall further and further behind and won’t be catching up in Gerry’s lifetime.

  • Ringo

    George –

    Head in to the working class areas, go south to Cork and Kerry or west to Mayo or north to the border regions and you’ll find a much more “republican” atttitude.

    Work in Mayo, worked/lived in Cork (city and county), wifes a Kerrywoman, and unification has never come up as a topic of conversation that I can recall?

    I accept the border is different. But it is the exception not the rule, for obvious reasons. I agree that there are as you say the opinions vary wildly but not primarily by geography. Your reference to working class areas is closer to the bone, but thats the same the world over.

  • George

    Born in the leafy suburbs of Dublin but live in Cork now Ringo and hear things here all the time that would never be said in the capital.
    I find it much more republican although interestingly that’s not manifested in a large vote for Sinn Fein. I think that’s because Cork believes it is the protector of Ireland, not the Provos. SF is big in Kerry though.

    As for Mayo, it’s probably not mentioned because everyone is of the same opinion or that it elicits strong emotions. I find the people of North Mayo particularly republican myself.

  • Frank McGahon

    ..or north to the border regions and you’ll find a much more “republican” atttitude.

    I beg to differ. I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to claim to speak for the rest of my fellow North-Louth-ers but I can tell you that this is a myth. It is undeniably the case that there is a lot of pro-republican sentiment around here, not least because there are a lot of people here who are originally from the North. What the popular image of “Dundalk the republican stronghold” often omits is that there is quite a lot of anti-republican sentiment here too. NI Ennui exists here too, it is not just a feature of leafy Dublin “even number” burbs.

  • George

    Frank,
    I don’t doubt NI ennui exists in Louth, it exists everywhere but the opposite view is much more in evidence there than the leafy suburbs of Dublin is my contention.

    This may be due to proximity or to northerners living there just like the strong views in Cork and Kerry may be due to the war of independence and subsequent civil war being particularly brutal there.

    I’m not trying to “tar” any particular area, I’m merely saying the views of OU and Keithm are not the prevalent views of the people who live in this state when it comes to “the national question”.

    If everything was as simple Keithm and OU seem to think we’d have joined Schengen years ago and would have border controls where passports have to be shown.

    Instead, we will be introducing ID cards even though nobody wants them because Britain is aand we will have to so we can maintain the free travel area.

    See the ennui dissolve if everyone had to show a passport to move from the 6 to the 26 and vice versa.

  • Frank McGahon

    ” I’m merely saying the views of OU and Keithm are not the prevalent views of the people who live in this state when it comes to “the national question”.”

    Well my original point was that this assertion can’t really be tested by an opinion poll which excluded the cost one would be prepared to pay. Ask people how much they would pay for a United Ireland, I would be surprised if a strong preference in favour emerged, even from the republican “strongholds”. As the cliche goes: “talk is cheap”.

    Just for fun: how much would you be personally prepared to pay? €1, €100, €10,000, more?

  • Ringo

    strong views in Cork and Kerry may be due to the war of independence and subsequent civil war being particularly brutal there

    You are totally exaggerating the sentiment in Cork, George. The lack of a Sinn Fein vote in the heartland of the war of independence is indicative of an electorate who have their republic and want no more. Sure didn’t they invent partition? ;p

    There is a republican streak in Kerry that can be traced back through the 40’s to the 20’s. But like many things in Kerry it is atypical.

    See the ennui dissolve if everyone had to show a passport to move from the 6 to the 26 and vice versa.
    That’s no argument. The same could be applied to returning to British rule. More realistically wouldn’t unionists be a bit miffed at having to show passports to go to Britain instead?

  • George

    Frank,
    Having lived in Germany when the Solidarity Tax was implemented to pay for unification without a whimper, I have the feeling that if unification was inevitable in Ireland, people would pay whatever was asked of them.

    My own personal view is for the Irish government to announce a one-sided moratorium on any constitutional change for the next 25-30 years on the grounds that it will only increase instability in Northern Ireland. It might help everyone to focus efforts.

    To counteract any kind of potential nationalist backlash, the government would put aside 0.5% of GNP annually towards a unity fund to show it is serious about its unity aspirations but also equally serious about it only coming about by consent.
    This should be about 60-70 billion euros in 2025-2030 and the money could be used as the pension reserve and help with building infrastructure etc.

    If at the end of this time, the people of Ireland either north and south vote against unification, then consent will not be forthcoming so throw the cash in the national pension reserve and let us all retire a year or two early.

    If the people vote yes, we have 70 billion to fund unification before even considering the introduction of a solidarity tax.

  • unionist_observer

    “I beg to differ. I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to claim to speak for the rest of my fellow North-Louth-ers but I can tell you that this is a myth”

    i speak as I find…and what I find is even students at TCD from Dundalk who according to the stereotype voiced on this thread should be neutral, middle class apolitical are fairly republican.

  • Ringo

    If at the end of this time, the people of Ireland either north and south vote against unification, then consent will not be forthcoming so throw the cash in the national pension reserve and let us all retire a year or two early.

    so…. if we forget about a ui we can afford to retire a year or two earlier. Or what you really mean is that we’ll have to work a year or two longer to pay for it. Either way you’ve convinced me.

    UO –
    isn’t there also an element of reverting to type because people almost expect it? Surely you must know people who are apolitical in the North but become staunch unionists/republican whatever when they go to Britain/the Republic/out foreign?

  • George

    Ringo,
    I know it is all hypothetical but I would argue that Cork would return one of the largest yes votes in any unification referendum. All the history of the area points towards such a result.

    I’d just repeat what Cork (City’s) most revered son, Terence McSwiney, said in his acceptance speech:

    “You among us who have yet no vision of the future have been led astray by false prophets.”

    Or maybe:
    “Sometimes in our grief we cry out foolish and unthinking words: “The sacrifice is too great.”

  • George

    Ringo,
    convinced you of what, that you will vote no?

  • Frank McGahon

    UO: i speak as I find…and what I find is even students at TCD from Dundalk who according to the stereotype voiced on this thread should be neutral, middle class apolitical are fairly republican

    Yeah, well I speak as I find too and pardon me if I’m unconvinced by your tiny sample. What’s the betting I know an awful lot more people from Dundalk than you do? Further, since when is applying for or being accepted to TCD any kind of indication of political viewpoint? Do you imagine that republican-minded students shun this institution?

    George: I note that you avoid the question, which is how much would you be personally be prepared to pay for unification?. Assuming nothing about what anyone else will be paying, how much of your own hard-earned cash would you be willing to stump up?, would you borrow any money for it?

    The reason I think the question is useful is that it forces people to weigh up preferences, to ask themselves the question: “How much am I willing to personally sacrifice?, one less pint on Friday night?, perhaps a crappier car than I’d like, or no car at all? Perhaps one less bedroom, perhaps the price of a house?” Everybody has an answer if they think hard enough about it. Thinking about how much everybody else would have to pay doesn’t really get at your own preferences.

    I’ll go on the record and say €0.00. What would you pay?

  • DCB

    George you may well prefer to work on for a year to furter unity, but how many other people would.

    I certainly wouldn’t

  • smcgiff

    Frank,

    I imagine you’re risk adverse – whereas I’d be willing to bet that a UI would be a good investment,eventually netting a positive NPV.

    How much would I personally invest to bring about a UI? I don’t know down to the exact Euro and Cent, but it would be somewhere more than a euro and less than a million, if that helps.

  • Ringo

    I’d just repeat what Cork (City’s) most revered son, Terence McSwiney, said in his acceptance speech:

    Cork’s most revered son? You are taking the piss.Your political bent is blinding you from the obvious.

    Roy Keane.

    Or Christy Ring (Cloyne by birth, Glen Rovers by the grace of God 🙂 ). Rory Gallagher. There are more where they came from too.

    And if popularism isn’t enough for you try the Jack Lynch. 6 All Irelands in a row and a Taoiseach’s office.

    What’s named after Terence (I don’t recall anything, I might be wrong)? All the rest are honoured in tunnels, squares, bridges etc… except Roy, because he’s not done yet (and they were going to name the Blackpool bypass bridge after himself and Dennis).

    As for your proposition, I’ll be taking you up on the offer of two years off work instead of a UI.

  • George

    Frank and DCB,
    I would be willing for my government to put aside a percentage of GNP to a potential unity fund, say 0.5%.

    This doesn’t mean anyone has to work longer, it just means money is put aside for later use. We already put 1% a year into the Pension Reserve Fund which comes to fruition in 2025 so the precedent is there.

    The money could be loaned back to the government to build infrastructure etc. as is planned with the NPR.

    I look on unity like a pension, I may not live to see it but if I do I would like it to be as comfortable as possible.

    You both appear to be living in the hope that you’ll never get to see unity. Status quo is always the path of least resistance.

    I’m concerned about what happens if we do achieve the supposed aspiration of the Irish nation and have unity. The idea that we all stick our heads in the sand in the meantime is foolish in my view.

  • James

    “What would you pay?”

    A couple of months ago we had it noodled out to a 12% tax hike during the years of the transition.

  • Fraggle

    Frank, I think a better question to ask would be, “how much would you be prepared to invest?”.

    Your question has the underlying assumption that northern ireland is destined forever to be the money sucking black hole that it is today. This is not the case. Northern Ireland has huge potential could be unlocked. There is potential for synergies too. For example, the Derry/Donegal region would function a lot ore efficiently and could be a lot more productive under a single administration. Derry and Donegal both underperform as things stand.

    You are making the mistake of treating NI as a liability and not as the underperforming asset that it is.

    I would not want to pay out of my own pocket for a united ireland if I thought it was going to be a failure but I would be prepared to invest a lot if I thought it was going to be a success and I do think that it could.

  • George

    Ringo,
    on Cork, just my experience. Lot of people, for example, wondered why McSwiney wasn’t part of the Capital of Culture celebrations. Sean Og was there for the GAA part alright. Ring is not from the city.
    Ah Blackpool, the only place a bypass goes through rather than around. Jack has a statue in the shopping centre and a bridge along with Dev.

    On working a year less, if in 2025, there was a no vote on unification and the government had 70 billion to spread around, I’d take it quite happily.

    There would be no complaints from me, I assure you, and I wouldn’t be calling for a recount.

  • DCB

    smgiff, if you use the South’s current growth rate as your discout you may not get much of a positive NPV.

    And I’ll bet that the payback period is going to be quite some time.

    Think most taxpayers would rather invest their taxes in something with more immediate gratificaiton.

    I’m far from risk adverse, though I am very adverse to letting the government play with what I’ve earned.

    I actually think that the european element is more important, if NI ditchs the union and joins the south we’re effectivly signing up for full membership of the EU and the euro, and all that that entails both good and bad.

    I’m still not convinced that in the long run full EU membership is such a great thing for Ireland though in the short term NI would certainly benefit from the monetary stimulus that the ECB is dishing out.

  • smcgiff

    ‘A couple of months ago we had it noodled out to a 12% tax hike during the years of the transition.’

    Good man, James, I wouldn’t have known where to start looking. Please get out your pencil again and figure out how much would be saved if we turned X amount of NI’s public servants into ‘decent’ workers! 😉

    ‘if you use the South’s current growth rate as your discout you may not get much of a positive NPV.’

    Remember it only needs to be +€1 to be worth it! 😉

    As for payback, what can I say, it’s Bitch! 😉

    Haven’t we full EU membership at the moment? Are you referring to the upcoming constitution Ref.?

  • maca

    “how much would you be personally be prepared to pay for unification?”

    Whatever would be asked of me.
    I believe our kids/grandkids/ggk would reap the benefit of our “sacrifice”. Of course there is the condition that we must both be ready for a UI. I’d probably vote against a UI if I wasn’t convinced that the folks in power had done their homework and had a workable reunification plan with the necessary financial/security/other resources in place.

  • Frank McGahon

    George: I would be willing for my government to put aside a percentage of GNP to a potential unity fund, say 0.5%.

    That’s big of you! That translates as “I’d be willing to force you to pay for it”. Seriously, how much would you pay yourself? (note: this is not intended to measure the cost or benefit of unification overall, but rather the strength of your own personal preferences). How much would you be prepared to pay from your own funds and not from those of “your” government?

    Fraggie: you miss the point, it is to do with what value each individual personally places on unification, the question doesn’t in itself imply anything more than that. It may well be the case that there are countless benefits and “synergies” associated, or it may be that the 6 would be a drain on the 26. But this information would be presumably included in your preference and if you felt the former you might be bold and state you would be willing to, say, take out a €30,000 loan to demonstrate your confidence. Alternatively if you felt the latter you might suggest a negative price – you would have to be paid €X to tolerate a United Ireland.

    The reason I personally would pay €0.00 is that I genuinely am indifferent, it’s nothing to do with being risk averse, I just don’t care all that much one way or another.

  • JD

    The reason I personally would pay €0.00 is that I genuinely am indifferent, it’s nothing to do with being risk averse, I just don’t care all that much one way or another.

    “Indifferent” to the point of badgering people about how much they will take from their own pocket or in the form of a bankloan?

    You don’t act like you are “indifferent.”

  • Frank McGahon

    I don’t see what is “badgering” about trying to get an answer to a very simple question which ought to test what the real preference is. In any case one can be indifferent as to the prospect of actual unification while remaining curious about what people really feel about it.

  • JD

    That’s big of you! That translates as “I’d be willing to force you to pay for it”. Seriously, how much would you pay yourself?

    You criticised George for “forcing” you to pay for a UI when he outlined his scheme. Do you feel the same about taxation generally?

    A UI will cost money. I don’t think anyone could seriously think it would cost nothing. So, if some of those costs have to be borne by the Republic, and you don’t want to pay anything, in effect you are saying you don’t want unification. I have no problem with your position. But I don’t believe you are “indifferent.”

  • maca

    “which ought to test what the real preference is”

    Actually Frank it’s kind of a silly question, it doesn’t test anything, it doesn’t give any kind of an indication of how much someone might want a UI.

  • Frank McGahon

    You criticised George for “forcing” you to pay for a UI when he outlined his scheme. Do you feel the same about taxation generally?

    As it happens, yes I do. If you don’t believe taxes are “forced” and people would otherwise pay their due, why is there a need for the revenue at all, why not set up a big voluntary fund for everyone to chip in? Because (relatively) nobody would pay up.

    Look, get the whole issue of the actual overall cost of unification out of your head. For the purposes of the question it doesn’t matter that much. The question is how badly do you want unification? (note that saying €0.00 doesn’t mean you don’t want it, just that you don’t feel strongly enough about it to chip in any of your own money).

    Maca, I suggest that you choose to consider it a silly question because you prefer to focus on all that “cheap” talk and don’t want to consider the possibility that grand claims to desire a United Ireland by RoI residents are not backed up by any deep commitment.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Because (relatively) nobody would pay up.’

    Actually, you’ve just shot your own argument in the foot.

    You’re saying that nobody would pay ANY tax if they could avoid it. Does that mean they don’t want government and services, and would prefer anarchy?

    I might as well ask you the question, how much Income Tax would you pay to maintain the status quo in the Republic, by which I mean the current health service, policing, education system etc.

    A figure of how much someone would pay IS meaningless, because €1 is different for every person. Ask a single mother/father if they could afford €5 per week for unification and they’d tell you to be on your bike. Ask someone like JP Macmanus (don’t know his politics) and he’d be easily able to afford millions without it impacting his lifestyle in the least.

    No Frank, back to the drawing board.

  • maca

    Frank
    “I suggest that you choose to consider it a silly question because you prefer to focus on all that “cheap” talk and don’t want to consider the possibility that grand claims to desire a United Ireland by RoI residents are not backed up by any deep commitment.”

    No need to get narky. You’re way off base there. People lacking commitment is not just a possibility, it is a probability, i’ve no problem accepting this. I have limits to my commitment too, who wouldn’t!?!

    Anyway … the government will not just send an invoice for €1000 (or €30000 as you mention) to everyone, so therefore I think it is silly to ask people would they be willing to fork out a sum like that. Who can afford to take out a €30000 loan? Your question is purposely phrased to force people to say no and is not a question which accuratly guages peoples commitment.
    If you want to ask how much people would be willing to pay you’ll have to do your sums and estimate what sort of monthly increase people are likely to pay, and for how long and how it will affect their daily lives.
    And cash is only a small part of the issue, you’d also have to look at other issues, such as how our constitution would have to change, what sort of changes we’d have to make to our education system, healthcare, policing, defence, how it will affect the Irish language, our sporting organisations etc etc etc etc etc etc.

    Only when you examine these areas can you really guage peoples commitment.

  • slackjaw

    George,

    You make some interesting points.

    Regarding regional variations in commitment, would you agree that the area where people are most indifferent to the question of a United Ireland is Leinster, which, even if you exclude the entire population of Louth (who just for argument’s sake we shall assume to be ardently republican, despite claims to the contrary), constitutes 51% of the population of the ROI?

    Surely if there were a real commitment to a United Ireland in the ROI as a whole, there would have to be some discernible manifestation of pro-unification sentiment, beyond weblogs and such, among the majority population of Leinster (excluding Louth)? Perhaps you could prove me wrong by pointing me in the right direction?

    Incidentally, I have no reason to doubt that pro-unification sentiment is greater among residents of Cork, Kerry and North Mayo, but unless I have my sums wrong, the entire population of counties Cork, Kerry and Mayo is only 18% of the ROI population (CSO 2002). So even if all these people were strongly pro-unification, perhaps they would have to exert a disproportionate influence on the rest of the country in order to bring about a UI?

    Also, in terms of pro-unification support, surely the troubles in the North have been key in keeping this idea foremost in people’s minds over the past 30 years? Now that there has been relative peace for the last 10, how do citizens whose image of Northern Ireland has not been forged by daily images and stories of strife muster the inclination to work for a UI?

  • maca

    Slackjaw
    “how do citizens … … muster the inclination to work for a UI?”

    They don’t. Bar a small minority, that’s not going to happen.
    Most people probably believe it should happen, that’s it’s the natural order of things but few will actively work towards it. There’s any number of higher priority issues for people to deal with than this. Instead people will wait for it to be offered and if the conditions are right will say yes. It’s going to be a sell by the government and an active pro-UI minority. Just MOO, as they say.

  • George

    Frank,
    unification is a constitutional aspiration of the country, just like the aspiration to educate all the children etc. It is a national issue not a personal one.

    Just as you can’t divide the people who pay for education into those who have children and those who don’t, or those who support having an army and those who don’t, or those who like horse racing (200 million over 5 years) and those who don’t, equally you can’t divide who pays for any future unification into those who want to and those who don’t.
    It is your right to press for a constitutional amendment to remove the aspiration if you so wish. Otherwise, it’s your duty to pay your share for your country to achieve its aims like everyone else. Fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State are fundamental political duties of all citizens (Article 9, sect. 2).

    Another example. The state already gives 0.5% of GDP to foreign aid. Would you prefer we made that state aspiration to help poorer countries voluntary?

    Slackjaw,
    Overall, I would describe the Irish Republic’s view at the moment as benign indifference. I would agree with Maca, most people probably believe it should happen, that’s it’s the natural order of things but few will actively work towards it. At the moment anyway.

    The other side of that is that virtually nobody will work actively against unification. If there is a southerner out there who would try and actively campaign against a UI and who believes it would be successful, I would like to meet him/her.

    Most of those who speak out against a UI do so because of the sacrifice and risk involved while at the same time seeing no “obvious” benefit but I don’t believe they themselves are willing to sacrifice anything to try stop it becoming a reality. Indifferent like everyone else.

    You ask how do citizens whose image of Northern Ireland has not been forged by daily images and stories of strife muster the inclination to work for a UI?

    Good question. It has to be shown to make economic and political sense and the people of Northern Ireland have to make it clear that they see their economic and political future lying with the rest of the people of Ireland.

    You have to ring the bell before someone will get out of his chair to answer the door.

  • Frank McGahon

    smcgiff: Actually, you’ve just shot your own argument in the foot. You’re saying that nobody would pay ANY tax if they could avoid it. Does that mean they don’t want government and services, and would prefer anarchy?

    Actually what’s shot in the foot here is your own logic: If you think that everybody pays tax willingly then you must logically believe that a voluntary tax fund would raise an equivalent amount to that raised by the Revenue. Common sense suggests it doesn’t. This is not the same thing as saying that people don’t want government services, ideally they would like everybody else to pay for them. The point is that some sort of service is provided by the government and taxes are “forced” because everybody realises that without this coercion everyone would “defect”. This doesn’t mean I (or George) can claim tax revenue raised from other people as “mine” and suggests that necessity, not frivolity ought to define what such “forced” taxes are spent on – it shouldn’t be spent lightly but should be justified.

    I might as well ask you the question, how much Income Tax would you pay to maintain the status quo in the Republic, by which I mean the current health service, policing, education system etc.

    This begs the question that I am happy with the current level of government expenditure and as it happens I don’t. There are two ways of looking at this question:

    1) Given expenditure €X per year, what is the optimum tax rate/regime which will raise that amount. This is an empirical question and independent of personal preferences. Set the tax too low and you won’t get enough, set it too high and you risk disincentivising growth or encouraging evasion.

    2) The other way is to say, how much do you think is a reasonable amount to pay for what the government provides. This obviously varies per person and could be a fixed amount or a percentage of income. Most people have their own idea in mind, above which they feel like they’re being ripped off and below which they either think they’re making out like bandits or feel guilty that they don’t contribute so much. My guess is that the first view is more prominent. Personally, everything over 15% or so of income feels to me like a ripoff.

    A figure of how much someone would pay IS meaningless, because €1 is different for every person. Ask a single mother/father if they could afford €5 per week for unification and they’d tell you to be on your bike. Ask someone like JP Macmanus (don’t know his politics) and he’d be easily able to afford millions without it impacting his lifestyle in the least.

    Of course €1 is different per person but that doesn’t mean it’s meaningless, the average will still tell you quite a lot, if what you said was true we wouldn’t bother measuring things such as gdp per capita.

    maca: Anyway … the government will not just send an invoice for €1000 (or €30000 as you mention) to everyone, so therefore I think it is silly to ask people would they be willing to fork out a sum like that. Who can afford to take out a €30000 loan? Your question is purposely phrased to force people to say no and is not a question which accuratly guages peoples commitment.

    Not at all, it is just designed to get you to think about how much it means to you personally. It is very easy to say “I want a United Ireland” but if you had to pay yourself, how much would you chip in?. It’s just a thought experiment or an idea for an opinion poll, it’s not intended as any kind of policy precription or suggestion as to how the government would fund a United Ireland. Look at it another way: let’s say that by some magic a United Ireland could be achieved with no economic cost assuming Unionists could be persuaded (perhaps by a financial incentive) – how much would you pay an individual unionist to come over to your side?

    The idea is just to weigh your own personal preference, that’s all – more than a burger?, a cd?, a car?, a house? You must have some idea.

  • Frank McGahon

    George: unification is a constitutional aspiration of the country, just like the aspiration to educate all the children etc. It is a national issue not a personal one.

    Well “national” issues are really just aggregate personal issues – perhaps you could give an example of a national interest which contradicted all personal interests?- so that evasion won’t wash.

    Just as you can’t divide the people who pay for education into those who have children and those who don’t, or those who support having an army and those who don’t, or those who like horse racing (200 million over 5 years) and those who don’t, equally you can’t divide who pays for any future unification into those who want to and those who don’t.

    Is there a point here? The question was what value do you personally place on Unification, not what everyone else should agree or disagree about.

    It is your right to press for a constitutional amendment to remove the aspiration if you so wish.

    It’s also my right not to bother one way or another

    Otherwise, it’s your duty to pay your share for your country to achieve its aims like everyone else. Fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State are fundamental political duties of all citizens (Article 9, sect. 2).

    I abide by the law and pay all my taxes because it is in my interests not to be thrown in jail. I don’t recognise any “duty”. If the state told me that my “duty” was to sacrifice my children, I’d tell it to go f**k itself. I suggest that nobody recognises any such duty, fidelity or loyalty except, in extremis, in the case of invasion by a hostile power.

    Another example. The state already gives 0.5% of GDP to foreign aid. Would you prefer we made that state aspiration to help poorer countries voluntary?

    Yes, I’d prefer that the people made the charitable donations themselves and not that the state presumes to do it for them. I don’t see why it is assumed that the figure would be reduced in this event. Unless that is you think that people would be too miserly to contribute.

  • maca

    Frank McG
    I know what you’re saying Frank I just don’t think it make any sense to ask in this way. For the simple reason that it doesn’t make me think how much a UI means to me personally. I don’t measure it in money terms. I may be willing to pay an individual Unionist a certain amount of money but it would mean little, it’s only money, I can work for more.
    Ask me would I support removing the Irish language from all public places, ask me would I support rejoining the Commonwealth, ask me would I accept the Queen as head of state and you would get a much more accurate idea of how much a UI means to me personally.

  • maca

    It would actually be very interesting to compile a list of 10-20 questions about a UI and see who answers yes/no…. perhaps we could propose it to Mick.

  • Davros

    No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No and
    No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No,No.

    Times approximately one million 😉

  • maca

    Pro-union folk need not answer 😉
    However another list could easily be compiled with questions such as “would you accept a UI within the UK?”

  • Davros

    Same answer Maca …as once that happened they would want an all-Ireland referendum and we would be Donald !

  • maca

    Not all people would think the same way Davros. Might lead to an interesting discussion.
    How about peoples views on a UI if the UK left the EU?

  • Davros

    That would chnge my mind maca, but I doubt if it would change the mind of a majority of Unionists.

  • Frank McGahon

    Maca:

    Good suggestions

    Ask me would I support removing the Irish language from all public places,

    I wouldn’t have a problem with recognising that English is the national language ahead of Irish and should take precedence on official documents, road signs etc. But I would not be in favour of removing the Irish language from public places.

    ask me would I support rejoining the Commonwealth

    No opinion on this, don’t think it makes much of a difference either way.

    ask me would I accept the Queen as head of state

    Ack! No! No! No!

    Ironically, it is probably those who of us are most indifferent about Unification who are more likely to defend “traditional” national symbols – as we don’t consider unity to be a glittering prize we don’t see why we should compromise our own identity – Despite the fact that I suggested, tongue in cheek, the “Irish Jack” as a flag for a United Ireland, I would be against abandoning the Tricolour.

  • maca

    Davros
    “I doubt if it would change the mind of a majority of Unionists.”

    I doubt it too 😉

    We’ve an interesting (drinking) session tonight, a ROI-man, a NI-man, an English man and a Scot. I’ll have to bring up politics at some stage and get a row going 😉

    Frank
    Actually my answers to those question would be quite similar to your own.

    That’s a disgusting flag to be honest 😉

  • Ringo

    unification is a constitutional aspiration of the country, just like the aspiration to educate all the children etc. It is a national issue not a personal one.

    You really are old skool romantic nationalist aren’t you?

    How can you seriously look at the country you are living in, and look at the way people are living their lives in that country and come out with some Chairman Mao-like wooly nonsense? There are no national aspirations anymore. They have been replaced by personal aspirations, a luxury not eveyone could afford before.

    Education? Health? Unless you can bring the state to court and sue the arse of them it doesn’t matter a shite what the constitution says. e.g. Jamie Sinnot case. And we voted enmass to gut your national aspirations regarding a 32 county state with the removal of Articles 2&3.

    I don’t dispute your personal passion for this issue, but face it, you’re living in the past, man. And a past that never even existed.

  • Gerry O’Sullivan

    It would actually be very interesting to compile a list of 10-20 questions about a UI and see who answers yes/no…. perhaps we could propose it to Mick.

    Maca, I’ve lashed together a few thoughts on this over on my blog, if you want to have a look.

    The kettle’s on!

  • George

    Frank,
    “Well “national” issues are really just aggregate personal issues – perhaps you could give an example of a national interest which contradicted all personal interests?- so that evasion won’t wash.”

    I’m not sure what you mean there but if the majority of the Irish people north and south voted for unification then we would all have to finance it as the people would have made it clear it was in the national interest.

    My suggestion is to prepare for the eventuality that the population decide unification is in their best interests.

    “I don’t recognise any “duty”. If the state told me that my “duty” was to sacrifice my children, I’d tell it to go f**k itself.”

    Only Britain has ever tried introduce conscription here. Just as you would not have a monarch, I would also not be part of a state with a military bent.

    Ringo,
    Over 95% of the voting electorate voted for that wording to Articles 2 and 3, which I’m referring to so it is they, you included, who have the wolly hopes and aspirations.

    I wasn’t even in Ireland when you guys were putting on the wolly hats in 1998 having emigrated in 1992.

    “Education? Health? Unless you can bring the state to court and sue the arse of them it doesn’t matter a shite what the constitution says”

    It is only because of the constitution that they can be brought to court in the first place.

    “There are no national aspirations anymore. They have been replaced by personal aspirations, a luxury not eveyone could afford before.”

    Wealth does create apathy but there are some aspirations that go beyond the personal and I believe you are naive to think that humanity is now only interested in the individual rather than the communal.

    Interesting that even though 95% of the electorate voted to enshrine a national aspiration in the constitution not seven years ago, you believe that there are no national aspirations anymore. And you imply I’m a Maoist?

    You yourself may have no national aspirations but that doesn’t mean your country doesn’t.

  • Davros

    George, did they actually introduce conscription or was it merely proposed and abandoned ?

  • Ringo

    And you’re going to bring the state to court like Kathy Sinnot did to force them to create a united Ireland?

    I don’t think people are solely concerned with themselves at the expense of he community, there are plenty of examples to the contrary. There are none that I can think of that are national aspirations, simply because we aren’t the homogenous group that you make out.

    You yourself may have no national aspirations but that doesn’t mean your country doesn’t.

    You yourself might have national aspirations, it doesn’t mean your fellow countrymen do.

    As for Articles 2&3, are you suggesting that the current wording versus the old wording is a step to or away from your goal? Is that why Ian Paisley has stopped mentioning it?

  • George

    Davros,
    I believe it was abandoned.

    Ringo,
    my personal aspirations don’t stretch as far as killing or coercing somebody to achieve them so the new articles are a million times closer to my aspirations than the old ones.

    “You yourself might have national aspirations, it doesn’t mean your fellow countrymen do.”

    That may well be the case but we will only truly know this if and when a path to achieve what are touted in the constitution as our aspirations becomes clear to us and we have to decide whether it is an aspiration that we want to become reality or not. The thing about aspirations is they only come into play when they look like they could become reality.

    “And you’re going to bring the state to court like Kathy Sinnot did to force them to create a united Ireland?”

    Actually, the opposite happened after Sunningdale and the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The state was brought to court on the constitutional issue, which was what in the end forced them to change Articles 2 and 3 into what you voted for.

    I believe it was John Taylor who instigated it but I’m sure Willowfield, who has all the information on this, will correct me if I’m wrong.

  • IJP

    Frank and Maca

    I’d be inclined to agree that a more relevant question is what people would be preferred to sacrifice – and the answer to that is usually telling. Given a choice of ’26 with Irish official’ or ’32 with only English official’ 90% of Southerners I know choose the former, for example.

    But that is entirely legitimate. For an all-Ireland State to be stable and prosperous (and surely it is pointless if it isn’t), its institutions, symbols, laws and indeed general ethos would have to reflect the genuinely-held view of many people on the island, including probably a majority in the northeast, that Britishness is important, that the British Empire was on balance a ‘Good Thing’, that British influence in Ireland is not something alien but something integral, etc etc. In short, it would require a significant degree of compromise.

    I have to say that’s a challenge few Irish Nationalists I’ve met are even prepared to consider meeting. That is again the problem with the ‘them and us’ majoritarianist tendencies exhibited by both ‘sides’, and why majoritarianism is all its forms must be destroyed to give way to genuine democracy.

    it’s your duty to pay your share for your country to achieve its aims like everyone else.

    Can someone expand on precisely what this means? What ‘aims’ are meant, specifically?

  • willowfield

    smcgiff

    A large part of ‘The Cost’ or existing subvention that has been mooted can be traced back to the uniquely high levels of public sector in NI.

    Can it? Define “a large part”.

    The reason for the “subvention” is that NI’s tax revenue is not enough to pay for the public services it needs (a situation that is mirrored in many regions of every other country: doubtless there is a “subvention” from Dublin to Connacht). Assuming you are not proposing a diminution in the standard of public services by sacking nurses, doctors, teachers, etc., public sector jobs can be reduced only by streamlining administration (fewer councils, fewer departments, fewer QUANGOs, etc.), and I suspect that the savings in doing this would not be that significant in the round. Also, unless the jobs in question are replaced by private sector jobs, there would be an increase in need for public spending (social security, free NHS treatment, etc.), and a further decrease in tax revenue (fewer people in jobs, fewer people buying goods and services from local businesses).

    In summary, then:

    1. There is scope to reduce the number of public sector jobs in administration.
    2. The suggested effect of this in terms of reducing public sector I believe to be exaggerated.
    3. Unless the jobs are replaced by private sector jobs, there will be a net reduction in NI’s tax revenue and an increase in some areas of public spending.

    Removing a single public sector job provides the double benefit of reducing public pay and increasing contribution.

    See point 3.

    George

    I believe it was John Taylor who instigated it but I’m sure Willowfield, who has all the information on this, will correct me if I’m wrong.

    I’ll certainly correct you, George. It was Chris and Michael McGimpsey.

  • abucs

    i think the amount you are willing to pay for a UI must surely depend on the circumstances and type of UI.

    For example, 2 different (extreme) circumstances on the eve of UI

    1. loyalists not happy, bombs going off left right and centre. People burned out of their neighbourhoods.

    2. Dr Paisley enthusiastically looking forward to a UI and in a reconciliatory speach asks the ROI to help fund the unification as he believes that both parts of Ireland are sure to benefit. 🙂

    Or perhaps something in between.

    We don’t know the circumstances so we can’t make any sort of intelligent comment on how much to personally contribute to unification.

  • Ringo

    George
    which was what in the end forced them to change Articles 2 and 3 into what you voted for.

    Articles 2&3 were the only significant bargaining chip the republic could bring to the table for the GFA negotiations. Irrespective of the McGimpsey case they would have been changed.

  • George

    Ringo,
    the principle of consent was conceded as early as 1973 in the Sunningdale Agreement so what were they bargaining for?

    I think differently. The new Articles were a clear declaration of the state’s stance today on what its people believe constitutes the Irish nation and what its people believe they would like to constitute the Irish nation – endorsed in a referendum.

    It’s our constitution, who were we bargaining with and what on earth could we have got in return?

    What has the British government given us (not republicans) and what did we ask for?

  • IJP

    Willowfield and I disagree on here about as often as Mark Durkan strings together a coherent sentence, but…

    Firstly, fewer public-sector jobs would almost inevitably, given sensible economic policy, mean more private-sector jobs. The point is that only a lunatic would work private-sector in NI (I should know…), where pay is typically lower and the future less secure than in the public sector – and if you want real money, you leave. This is not healthy. People who could be creating real wealth are either doing so elsewhere, or being kept down by their seniors on some farcical notion of ‘public accountability’ or because they didn’t speak to the right person nicely enough.

    In any sensible society those entering employment are given the option of taking the risk in the private sector in return for higher pay, or going the ‘safe’ route on slightly lower pay in the public sector. NI has this totally warped, and there is no way out of the spiral until the ethic of constantly creating state employment paid for by the Southern English is replaced by one of genuine wealth creation. Our culture of dependency is responsible for our lack of confidence, for our tendency to be defensive, and indeed for much of the bigotry that goes on here. A more confident, vibrant society, the like of the one we see only a few km down the road, would be blighted much less by such outdated notions as ethnic nationalism or rights without responsibilities.

    I should add that although there is a degree of subvention from London/Southeast to all other UK regions, it is nothing like as much per-capita as it is to NI, nor does it result in a bloated public sector taking up two-thirds of the workforce in any region other than NI. Public/private sector employment balance and indeed unemployment are in fact broadly the same across all UK regions.

  • willowfield

    IJP

    Firstly, fewer public-sector jobs would almost inevitably, given sensible economic policy, mean more private-sector jobs.

    How?

  • maca

    “2. Dr Paisley enthusiastically looking forward to a UI and in a reconciliatory speach asks the ROI to help fund the unification as he believes that both parts of Ireland are sure to benefit. :)”

    3. The Borg attack earth destoying half of Europe including GB. Under threat of attack all the peoples of Ireland band together, united in defence.

    I think my 3 is more believable that your 2.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Let sleeping dogs lie. The past 10 years have been relatively peaceful compared to the previous 25. Having lived in Northern Ireland my entire life, I still cannot fathom how the Provos thought the people of this island would gain anything by the enforcing of an end to partition. The majority of Ulster people are dead set against it, with thousands willing to give their lives, rather than live in an Irish Republic!
    A mate of mine from Dublin who I attend university with in Londonderry is typical of Southerners when he says he doesn’t understand “why the IRA bomb everywhere over the sake of a border. I see them as sectarian bigots and basically just gangsters and criminals”

  • maca

    “The majority of Ulster people are dead set against it”

    Actually I doubt it. The majourity of NI people maybe.

    “with thousands willing to give their lives, rather than live in an Irish Republic!” Eh?