Repartition: Northern Ireland’s final solution?

Eric Waugh asks that given the starkly divergent electoral choices made by Nationalists to the West and Unionists to the East, why not plump for re-partition?

One avenue to a settlement could be formal re-partition or the creation of self-governing cantons, Swiss style, each run by the equivalent of one of the new councils. Local plebiscites would be a first step.

One study, by Liam Kennedy, the Queen’s University economic and social historian, concluded that 90% of the unionist population could be contained within the British part of the State, but would have to render it attractive to a minority of 20% of Catholics, most of them in Greater Belfast, some of whom would prefer to stay within the Union anyway.

Some 75,000 unionists would be left in the Irish part of the state, mostly in south and west Ulster. But generous resettlement grants could be offered to those of either side preferring to relocate.

A high degree of Anglo-Irish co-operation would be essential in the arrangements, which eventually would involve full integration of the British territory within the UK and the Irish within the Republic, with the Irish security forces extending their remit into the “Irish” part of the north.