An Cúige: Where government spending buys peace, not votes

David Cameron has let the cat out of the bag. Northern Ireland costs too much.

Wikipedia puts the cost to the British exchequer at five billion quid in 2006. That’s one fifth of all economic output. Annually. Despite this, the North remains an economic basketcase.

By contrast, the Republic benefited from a EU investment in infrastructure of ten billion euro after the Maastricht treaty was signed. That spend is credited with kickstarting a boom lasting close to two decades (though the hangover is a bitch).

No wonder Cameron, who promised to ‘tear down big government‘, is annoyed.

In Northern Ireland, government spending is different. In the Republic, a new road or a FÁS scheme buys votes for a local TD. But the politicians making spending decisions for the North don’t benefit directly. The next chancellor, whether Tory or Labour (or even Liberal) will not have parliamentary colleagues in West Belfast or Tyrone. Even allowing for the Tory/Ulster Unionist pact, government spending there buys peace, not votes.

Five billion quid.

That’s close to three grand a year per head.

It would almost be worthwhile to just write everyone a cheque to leave, provided they promise never again to use the word ‘situation’.

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  • The Raven

    “By contrast, the Republic benefited from a EU investment in infrastructure of ten billion euro after the Maastricht treaty was signed. That spend is credited with kickstarting a boom lasting close to two decades (though the hangover is a bitch)”.

    Anyone ever tot up how much the North got? Peace I, Peace II, Peace II extension, INTERREGs 1 through 3, Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme, Competitiveness & Employment Programme, LEADERS I, II, Plus and now the Rural Development Programme?

    Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

    And where did it get us…? Oh it got us the EU Special Programmes Body. Some roads. A bridge near Toome. Oh a new one in Derry! Sewage schemes. Errrr…anything much else…?

  • Mrazik

    It funded a bureaucracy and helped local politicians use their insider knowledge to point friends and other ‘interests’ in the direction of the loot.

  • Reader

    Gerard Cunningham: Wikipedia puts the cost to the British exchequer at five billion quid in 2006.
    But the whole of the UK is running an annual deficit now. Northern Ireland is nowhere near such an outlier as it once was.
    Gerard Cunningham: That’s close to three grand a year per head.
    Whereas the UK deficit of 163billion is a mere two and a half grand a year per head…

  • It would almost be worthwhile to just write everyone a cheque to leave

    Isn’t economic migration the defining economic trend of the Republic of Ireland, save the mentioned EU-backed fillip in the 90s?

    Either way interesting that a commentator from one of the world’s highest paid civil service/government territories is writing a critique of somewhere else. Like Ned O’Keeffe of Soldiers of Destiny fame it’s good to see the real issues are being dealt with.

  • JR

    Bring on the cuts I say. The case for preserving the statelet of Northern Ireland can only be stated when we enter the economic real world.

  • Argosjohn

    So what price peace? The Peace Process has been a way of buying off the most unsavoury characters to emerge from the Irish underworld in recent years and to ensure no Crown agents guilty of war crimes answer for their actions. It must rank as one of Europe’s biggest post War blackmail scams.

    If the Tories get in, they should let a whiff of fresh air go through West Belfast and other Provie fiefdoms. Stop the funding. Make the Provos and their Loyalist mates work for a living.

  • Critical Alien

    I wonder what Dave thinks of when he thinks of Northern Ireland?

    http://i.imgur.com/0Kp5G.jpg