“It is hardly the moment to press claims to the North which we have renounced..”

One of the “key speakers” lined up for the International Representative for west Belfast’s whistle-stop World Tour is Prof Brendan O’Leary of the University of Pennsylvania. We can’t know what he’ll say then, but the Irish Times tells us what he said to the British-Irish Studies annual conference in Dublin yesterday. From the Irish Times report

Also speaking at the conference, Prof Brendan O’Leary from the University of Pennsylvania agreed there was no strong appetite in the period ahead to pursue a united Ireland in the South. A united Ireland was a possibility in the long run and had been built into the institutions of the agreement. However, growth in the nationalist vote in Northern Ireland had stabilised and it was unlikely there would be a nationalist majority in the next 30 years to vote for such unity, he said.

Of course that’s only “a blink” in history. But what should the answer to Gerry Adams question – “United Ireland – How do we get there” – be? [Apart from not starting from here? – Ed] Indeed. Well, they could take Bertie Ahern’s advice. In the meantime, stop trying to operate a dysfunctional Northern Ireland administration through that semi-detached polit-bureau. And, to paraphrase Michael Longley, start civilising yourselves.

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