Ulster for sale and there’s only one buyer?

There seems to be a degree of symmetry in two stories in today’s media regarding the future direction of Northern Ireland. The Sunday Times reports that the Irish government is planning to spend more than €1 billion on motorways, energy links and healthcare in Northern Ireland as part of ongoing efforts to create an all-island economy. Update: Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has refused to confirm the financial package.

Meanwhile in the Sunday Business Post, unionism’s favourite commentator Tom McGurk argues that Ian Paisley has spent the past four decades “destroying Irish Unionism as a political, economic or moral force” and, as a result, Northern Ireland is now for sale at a knockdown price.

“Just as soon as he says ‘‘yes’’ and battens down the devolved hatches, the Celtic Tiger will pounce over the border and snap up all the bargains,” he writes. “I won’t whisper it too loudly, Paisley, posterity is listening, but you know as I do that, at the very moment of your historical triumph, you have finally got your richly deserved comeuppance. Ulster is for sale, after all.”