“Perhaps for the citizens of the Republic too, the Belfast Agreement is in fact a settlement.”

It is, perhaps, symbolic that, rather than attending Sinn Féin’s Irish Unity Conference in London, David Adams, Martin McGuinness, et al, found themselves stranded on a Belfast runway in an ice-bound Aer Lingus jet. It meant they missed Paul Bew’s contribution to the debate. And in the Irish Times today David Adams, belatedly, has his say

It is often forgotten that unionists are not the only ones who need to be attracted to the idea of a united Ireland. The people of the Republic must endorse a unitary state as well. It has always been taken for granted that they would jump at the chance of reunification with the North, but it would make more sense if in fact they preferred to stick with the existing arms-length relationship.

Whatever its faults, the Republic is settled, cohesive and self-contained. Why on earth would its people want to gamble all in some new dispensation with nearly two million troublesome Northerners – most particularly if it were the case that a substantial number of their erstwhile neighbours were being dragged into something against their will?

Maybe republicans aren’t rocking the boat in the South because they realise that the people there aren’t any keener on a united Ireland than unionists are. Perhaps for the citizens of the Republic too, the Belfast Agreement is in fact a settlement.