“Hollow nationalist rhetoric will not do.”

In the Belfast Telegraph Sinn Féin MLA Mitchel McLaughlin responds to Ed Curran’s question on the cost of a united Ireland with some hollow nationalist rhetoric, and indulges in some fantasy economics.

An analysis of the expenditure by ‘regions’ along with a series of estimates of the revenues from the regions by Oxford Economics shines some light on the actual subvention by the British Exchequer.

The main findings demonstrate that total ‘identifiable expenditure’ for the North was £14.1bn in 2004/05. This is relevant data, as ‘non-identifiable spending’ is mainly comprised of two components – debt interest payments and defence spending, neither of which would be accrued in a united Ireland.

The ‘residence-based’ revenues from the North in the same period were £10.7bn, indicating a deficit of £3.4bn.

There are significant sources of potential wealth creation as well as huge untapped resources that would be available for development in a single island economy. A proactive job creation strategy in alternative energy, ICT and green technology aimed at full employment – which British economic mismanagement could never achieve here – would see tax revenues climb rapidly and welfare payments plummet. Bringing people back into work and paying taxes on their incomes and through their spending would eliminate any deficit.

Why does he pick out 2004/5?  Possibly because by 2010/11 the total current expenditure here has risen to well over £18billion with an additional £1.5billion in capital investment.

Have those ‘residence-based’ revenues risen accordingly?

And that’s without calculating the cost of his proposals on currency  [Which one? – Ed] and fiscal policy

All the people who share this island would benefit from the creation of a vibrant, dynamic all-Ireland economy based upon:

• A single currency

• Democratic control over Irish monetary and fiscal policies

[As opposed to the IMF and the ECB? – Ed]  Or just Germany…
Perhaps his party colleague, Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, could have a chat about the full implications of following through on those proposals with the European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso.  Since he and the NI First Minister are travelling there anyway.

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  • Barry the Blender

    A border is actually beneficial to our island’s economy. Cheaper petrol on one side, cheaper groceries on the other.

  • PaddyReilly

    I am inclined to agree with the above statement. But in order to maximise access to the duty free zone and minimise disruption to the general populace, I would suggest that the UK’s area of control should be restricted to three enclaves:-

    1) Carrickfergus
    2) Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire)
    3) Queenstown (Cóbh)

  • A border is very useful, also, for cross border smuggling. I wonder if the eradication of illegal cross border smuggling of diesel etc will be the main plank of Gerry Adams’ campaign in Louth, a constituency which has suffered enough from the same illegal activity.

  • G O’Neill

    So now the unionist line is that the south can’t afford the north.

    5 years ago it was that the south could afford us but they don’t want us.

    Which is it now?

    Mitchel’s article is not fantasy ecomonics – it is simply that you have chosen to look at it in that way because of your particular point of view.

    You have missed the point that when Ireland is united it will not simply be the the south swallowing up the North. A United Ireland will create a range of possibilites to re-organise and re-structure the island and its economy.

    Now is as good a time as any.

  • james

    Do these figures make any sense without knowing or estimating ‘residence-based’ revenues for 2010/2011.

    The table in the document (I do sometimes follow your links Pete) show a steady climb for the years shown, 9.5% actually

    2007/8 – 15,472
    2008/9 – 16,329
    2009/10 – 17,277
    2010/11 – 18,236

    My guess is its mostly inflation, and that the ‘residence-based’ revenues will have risen accordingly. Either way, don’t think its changed all that much and so neither has the deficit.

    Geez, the south has already taken on 300,000,000,000.00 in the month, give em NI and chuck Scotland and Wales in as well, if they’re keeping German bankers in luxury it would be rude not to take care of fellow Celts

  • iluvni

    Off they go to beg and scrape for more EU handouts from Barroso.

  • John East Belfast

    “There are significant sources of potential wealth creation as well as huge untapped resources that would be available for development in a single island economy. A proactive job creation strategy in alternative energy, ICT and green technology aimed at full employment – which British economic mismanagement could never achieve here – would see tax revenues climb rapidly and welfare payments plummet. Bringing people back into work and paying taxes on their incomes and through their spending would eliminate any deficit.”

    What utter bollix – does he thinks if he just says such a thing it is true ?

    Wht untapped resources ? – and as for Green Energy all it will do is increase our energy costs.

    However both in Curran’s piece and of course in McLaughlin’s one major factor is totally overlooked.

    ie the demographic make up of NI post unification will be nothing like it is now.

    Tens of thousands (probably hundreds) will emigrate – I wont stay.

    Such people will be those with mobile wealth and UK sterling pensions and will include the educated classes.

    Those left behind will simply add to the ROI Welfare bill.

    When that story – and its impact on SDLP voting, south Belfast house owners – is told along with its impact on Belfast house prices (which will be depressed for a generation) there will be no turkeys exercising their franchise for Christmas

  • pippakin

    It is not the time to be reminding us of yet another thing we all want and thanks to gombeen government and bankers can’t have.

    Its understandable for SF to be playing this card. Its been their only policy for so long, but its counter productive until the south has been given the opportunity to get back on its feet and the present governments, ahem, mistakes, have been corrected.

  • SK

    “However both in Curran’s piece and of course in McLaughlin’s one major factor is totally overlooked.

    ie the demographic make up of NI post unification will be nothing like it is now.

    Tens of thousands (probably hundreds) will emigrate – I wont stay.

    Such people will be those with mobile wealth and UK sterling pensions and will include the educated classes.”

    A change of management would prompt you to pack your bags and leave your homeland? How very patriotic.

    Also, considering that the majority of graduates over the course of the next several decades will be from the nationalist community, I would suggest that your “exodus” scenario is somewhat over-stated.

  • John East Belfast

    SK

    My patriotism is to the UK.

    Whether my estimates are overstated or not is not the issue – it is the drammatic understatment of them in every UI discussion because it doesnt factor them in at all.
    Did you not learn that lesson in 1921 with the Protestant exodus from Eire ?

    There will be tens of thousands leaving NI and as it will be the most wealthy and mobile – ie there remains plenty of NI old money regardless of where the graduates come from – it will have a substantial negative fiscal and economic effectI.

    It will also have a drammatic social impact as well with schools emptying etc causing protestant teachers and their families to leave to.

    All I am saying is that when you are costing a UI you need to factor in th economic effects of a unionist exodus.

  • The Impartial Observer

    Trying to boil the border question down to a question of economics misses the point, it’s a question of national identity something did people hold dear to them and arguments about “you’d be better off with X Y or Z make little impact on what attitudes individuals hold. Yes there are economic cases on either side of the argument but for most people that’s not what they base their identity on.

  • John East Belfast

    TIO

    True for some but economics is what Curran and McLaughlin are writing about and is the subject of this thread

  • tacapall

    “Tens of thousands (probably hundreds) will emigrate – I wont stay.

    Such people will be those with mobile wealth and UK sterling pensions and will include the educated classes.

    Those left behind will simply add to the ROI Welfare bill”.

    A bit arrogant there John what do you base those views on and are you including yourself in that group.

  • Jimmy

    “debt interest payments and defence spending, neither of which would be accrued in a united Ireland.”

    If he’s discovered an interest free source of government borrowing, now would be a good time to let the rest of us in on the secret.

  • Dec

    “Off they go to beg and scrape for more EU handouts from Barroso.”

    They’re actually loans, Iluvni. If you wish to talk about annual billion pound handouts you need to look closer to home.

    “There will be tens of thousands leaving NI and as it will be the most wealthy and mobile – ie there remains plenty of NI old money regardless of where the graduates come from – it will have a substantial negative fiscal and economic effectI.

    It will also have a drammatic social impact as well with schools emptying etc causing protestant teachers and their families to leave to.

    All I am saying is that when you are costing a UI you need to factor in the economic effects of a unionist exodus.”

    I’d love to see the research that produced this prediction. Obviously the notion that tens of thousands will simply give up homes, jobs and friends and rush en masse to the nearest ferry terminal with just a suitcase and the clothes on their back, is a highly plausible one.

  • pippakin

    Dec

    I think mass emigration is one of the things the government here in the south is expecting to happen as a result of the economic mess we are in. It may be that some leaving the north is not so far fetched.

  • The Word

    At least there is no mention of communism in Mitchel’s analysis.

    As to why the south should have to step up and fund even a smaller deficit is unclear.

    I suppose it’s the same Sinn Fein “con” in economics that is posted purely to serve populism and for creating an impression of competence.

    There simply is no alternative to converging the political systems, which they are on line to do under ethical principles, and the economic system will serve the ethical basis of the political system.

    Sinn Fein, and the unionists with a different slant, often tell us of how the political system will serve the economic system.

    Money is a means of exchange, not a god. Men and women must be in charge, not the currency.

  • Alanbrooke

    People have been Ireland’s prime export for centuries.

    In recent years the market has dried up and Ireland has been hit by cheaper imports in a key market. The last time Ireland had such a level of imports – the early 1600s – all sorts of disruption occurred.

    However changing economic circumstances have shown a sharp drop in imports and a strong recovery is forecast for the exports market in coming years.

  • james

    It would be interesting to see what welcome these hundreds of thousands of ‘British’ people will receive when they reach the motherland.
    Although they also expected a flood of ‘British’ people from Hong Kong back in the day, which didn’t happen

    “My patriotism is to the UK”

    Thats a bugger cos the UK won’t exist anymore it’ll just be plain old GB.

  • reality check

    One would also need to factor in the many years of bloody conflict which would follow the imposition of a United Ireland against the wishes of the unionist population of NI. The government of ROI are well aware of that and it’s one of the many reasons why it isn’t remotely conceivable, now more than ever before since the formation of the states.

  • Dec

    Pippakin

    Apples and Oranges. There’s a bit of a difference between economic migration and people abandoning their houses, jobs and social lives to go live in a bedsit in Ayr.

  • pippakin

    Dec

    Really? I can’t see that. People who leave add up to just the same numbers regardless of reason. Economic migration this time will not be that easy, many will be taking serious debt with them. We need the population to grow not shrink and we need people in the houses to eventually revive the housing market.

  • Pete Baker

    Guys

    Could we try to focus on the actual topic?

    Rather than speculate about an ‘exodus’ which would probably help, rather than hinder, the economic situation.

    ANYhoo…

    Impartial Observer

    “Trying to boil the border question down to a question of economics misses the point”

    True. But this isn’t trying to boil it down to a question of economics. It’s just scoping out whether Mitchel McLaughlin, and Sinn Féin, have the foggiest notion of what they’d advocate, policy-wise, in the still highly unlikely circumstances of a united Ireland.

    G O’Neill

    “Mitchel’s article is not fantasy ecomonics”

    It’s entirely fantasy economics. Starting with his selection of out-of-date figures for the level of the block grant.

    The rest of his argument is just wishful thinking.

    There’s little point telling everyone ‘we can change everything!’, unless you actually describe what it is you want to change – and in what way.

    The currency issue being a case in point. Is this united Ireland in or out of the euro?

    Because hollow rhetoric isn’t going to change anything…

  • just sayin’

    TIO 7:24 – well said. No, its not the point of the thread but it does point to the redundancy of the argument around the economics.

    For some/ many there is no amount of money that would cancel out their desire to live in their Irish/ British state.

    As regards a Protestant/ British flight, I can’t think of any research on it either. I do recall a ‘heated debate’ in the pub a few years back with a number of friends (all would be happy with British or Unionist descriptions, I wouldn’t view any as extreme – all but one graduates). Of 7, 3 said they would go. Hardly scientific, and we were somewhat p*ssed.

  • John East Belfast

    Pete

    I wasnt idle kite flying by introducing an exodus factor into the economic debate of a UI.

    When people do the sums of a UI – either for or against – they totally ignore this issue.

    However do we seriously believe that the population will live as before – that is serious wishful thinking.

    We had a thread on here last week with many unionists arguing they werent even Irish. In a UI scenario many unionists will pack up and leave.

    There are reasons for that – one is an emotional attachment to Britain and the other is economic.

    The latter will be motivated by a few major factors

    1. Euro v Sterling
    With their savings and – most importantly – pensions (including state) in Sterling they will be highly suspicious of translating these into Euros -it will be an incentive to just go.

    2. Being part of 6th largest Econonmy in the world or part of the ROI who, on the whole, has a track record of lower living standards over the long term.

    3. House Prices
    this is probably the most important – as soon as people get a whiff that a UI is on the cards people will want to sell their house and leave/rent before the market starts to tank. This will fuel a downward spiral in NI house prices and a return to negative equity as more people join in and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
    Of course this wont just effect unionists but South Belfast Catholics with foot on the housing ladder will equally not want to miss the top of the market.

    I am not sure how you think a miragration of mobile workers, mobile wealth, skilled people and people with spending power will be good for the NI economy ?

    When I say that several tens of thousands will leave that is a guestimate – but 1 in 20 of the population to me is on the shy side – it could easily go well into 6 figures.

    As I said no costing of a UI can ignore the ecomomic impact of an exodus as a direct result of NI separating from the UK

  • Pete Baker

    JEB

    “I am not sure how you think a miragration of mobile workers, mobile wealth, skilled people and people with spending power will be good for the NI economy ?”

    Well, it depends on who you think would leave and who you think would not.

    There will be tens of thousands leaving NI and as it will be the most wealthy and mobile – ie there remains plenty of NI old money regardless of where the graduates come from – it will have a substantial negative fiscal and economic effectI.

    It will also have a drammatic social impact as well with schools emptying etc causing protestant teachers and their families to leave to.

    All I am saying is that when you are costing a UI you need to factor in th economic effects of a unionist exodus. [added emphasis]

    And

    Such people will be those with mobile wealth and UK sterling pensions and will include the educated classes.

    Those left behind will simply add to the ROI Welfare bill.

    I see…

    You’ve already decided what the economic conditions will be and what policies would be enacted in this scenario.

    And that non-unionists wouldn’t be capable of maximising the opportunities such a speculative exodus would present.

    Fine…

    And back to the topic.

  • John East Belfast

    and the topic is exactly ???

  • IJP

    The topic is SF’s fantasy economics.

    Of course, all of what has been said thus far leaves aside the fact that plenty of economic levers are currently in Northern Irish hands right now – like (just to remind SF) education and transport, for example, where they have delivered a gridlocked school system and ungritted roads… “mismanagement”, anyone?!

  • Archie Noble

    “I wasnt idle kite flying by introducing an exodus factor into the economic debate of a UI.”

    John, in your view where in Britain would such people relocate/ migrate to?

  • Sender

    This is cloud cuckoo land. Let’s get real. There are two nations in existence on this island and a long drawn out process was necessary to produce peace between them.

    There is scarcely any scenario where such an unnatural Frankenstein’s monster as a “united Ireland” would not produce large scale violent conflict, at the very least at the level of the 1969-1994 period. That includes a 50%+1 vote.

    In this context talking about such banalities as fiscal calculations adding up present day figures is like discussing the Nazi invasion of France in terms of whether it increased France’s GDP or not.

  • Alanbrooke

    In a UI why would Prods need to leave ?

    They would be circa 20% of the electorate and vote as a block. Given RoI politics they would be the people who make or break governments.

    So more pork barrel politics funded by the southern taxpayer and the constitution needs to be re-written in Ullans.

    SF should be careful what they wish for.

  • IJP

    Come of folks, that’s all too hypothetical to be worth discussing, surely?!

    I guess JEB‘s point is that the best guide to future behaviour is past behaviour.

    But the real contemporary issue is SF’s fantasy politics – which is of direct relevance to all of us here and now, given its inability to deal with gritting, schools reform and indeed for that matter EU farm payments. Real issues which actually matter!

  • Truth & Justice

    Was there not a poll done down south saying 49% dont want a United ireland and indeed 43% of Sinn Fein voters down south want to move from the Euro to stirling!

  • PaddyReilly

    People have to come to terms with the fact that their houses are not going to keep going up in value and that henceforth they will be subject to rapid loss of value in the same way that cars or computers are. The whole mess that we have got into is caused by this crazy idea that old houses are valuable. They are not. Unless they are genuine antiques, they are slums and would be pulled down in any sane society.

    So house prices in South Belfast are a lost cause, in or out of a United Ireland. Try investing your money in a business and building that up, instead of expecting the bricks and mortar to make your fortune for you. That is what the Germans do and why they are largely immune to the current downturn.

    But yes, there is already a marked Protestant drift to Scotland and England, and it might well be accelerated by a United Ireland, which would also cause a drift to the Dublin region.

    The story that Unionists would be an important voting block in a United Ireland is without foundation. Currently the joint DUP/UUP total is around 12% of the all-Ireland vote. That is probably below what is sustainable as a political movement. Former Unionists like the Dockrell family just joined Fine Gael in the 1920s.

    Personally, I think we would need to counteract this trend by having three different capitals, like South Africa. Dublin, Belfast and Armagh would be the three.

    But do not worry, there’s always someone to move in. English people moved out of mill towns in Yorkshire but they didn’t have to flatten them: Pakistanis moved in. In Ireland, there will no doubt be Protestants moving out and Lithuanians, Portuguese and Brazilians moving in to replace them.

    Would a United Ireland be bad for the Northern Irish economy? The answer is irrelevant, because there would be no NI economy, any more than there is currently a Meath or Bréifne economy: that is what a United Ireland means.

  • John East Belfast

    Paddy

    “Would a United Ireland be bad for the Northern Irish economy? The answer is irrelevant, because there would be no NI economy, any more than there is currently a Meath or Bréifne economy: that is what a United Ireland means”.

    Come off it Paddy ! – it would be very relevant for the people living in Northern Ireland and also very relevant for the rest of Ireland who are going to have to add any deficit to their own. Those are the people who will be voting for it after all.

    The only people who would benefit economically would be the English who would no longer have to block grant NI.

    There is zero evidence that a UI would do anything other than impoverish the whole of Ireland and plenty of current facts that it would.

    The economic case – nationalist rhetoric or not – has never been made for a UI. Some nationalists think they dont have to – but green eyed emotion will never secure a 50+1 majority in the 6 counties.

  • Scath Sheamais

    John East Belfast fails to mention that there already is an exodus – educated protestants are leaving this state in droves, with many going to Britain or elsewhere for university education and not coming back. This ‘Protestant Brain Drain’ has been commented on in the media on a number of occasions in recent years.

  • John East Belfast

    SS

    I havent mentioned it but I havent overlooked it either as it is me who is arguing that such an exodus would snow ball in a UI scenario.

    As per the other thread started on Slugger today the ROI cant even keep its own people at home never mind encourage disenchanted northern unionists to effectively give up ther British birthright.

    The exodus from NI in a UI is significant to be included in any Cost Benefit analysis of a UI but that variable is ignored.

    It will be made worse if the ROI welfare benefits exceed UK Tax rates – ie the DLA and Welfare class will all welcome the ROI and the taxpayers will all leave.

    Everyone needs to seriously wake up and realise that a UI is economic madness for the people who live on the island of Ireland.

  • JoeJoe

    John EB etc. Any loss of the unionist populace would be something I would regret. I see the orange strand like the gaelic-speaking strand of the island as a valuable part of the cultural mix, and the island would be worse-off without either. (Losing the gaeltacht is in a much more immidiate danger by the way.)

    Anyway, John East Belfast and other unionists who would likely leave in a UI, I would like to tease-out your positions a bit further.

    Are you willing to stay in NI in a likely future scenario, where the nationalists are the majority, and the North thus becomes ‘mildly green-dominant’ in the way it is ‘mildly orange-dominant’ at present. Say for a silly example, the assembly majority ask Royal Mail to scrap the red post boxes, and undevolved issues pushed for by a NI nationalist-majority of MPs and RoI are agreed to by Westminster given (say English and Irish on road signs) etc.

  • George

    Sender,
    There is scarcely any scenario where such an unnatural Frankenstein’s monster as a “united Ireland” would not produce large scale violent conflict, at the very least at the level of the 1969-1994 period. That includes a 50%+1 vote.

    Equally, there is scarcely any scenario where the unnatural decision to prevent a united Ireland when a majority north and south wish it would not produce large-scale conflict.

    The only question to be answered is whether the violence with be faced down and eventually quelled.

  • Greenflag

    SF fantasy or otherwise ?

    ‘A single currency’

    Is this the Euro , Pound or Punt -It does not seem clear from Mr McLoughlin’s points ?

    As to

    ‘Democratic control over Irish monetary and fiscal policies’

    There are only a couple of countries in the EU including the UK who could make that claim and even they have very little real ‘independence . in fiscal affairs despite what their politicians proclaim.

    There won’t be any UI until such time as NI has a majority nationalist voting electorate and that does not appear to be on any near horizon despite the decades long outflow of NI graduates .

    What is clear from the history of Ireland -North and South over centuries is that people are ‘replaceable ‘ . People were replaced after the Nine years war when large tracts of Ulster were settled by adventurers and economic migrants from Scotland and the North of England . After the quarter of a million outflow from Ulster in the mid 18th ventury to new world these people were also replaced mainly by Irish Catholic migrants from the north west and south west of Ulster . When Presbyterians started emigrating in numbers from the mid 19th century they were also replaced . The huge number of RC’s who emigrated in Famine times have been replaced not in total numbers but in a much higher living standard on the island today for 6.2 million people as compared to a basic subsistence level for some 3 million out of a total of 8.5 million in the mid 19th century .

    The one million who fled the Republic/Free State in the period 1922 -to 1970 have been more than replaced by the population increase since 1970 . The 250,000 who emigrated in the mid 1980’s were replaced by 400,000 immigrants in the 1990’s and 2000’s .

    In amongst all the above the putative ‘loss of tens of thousands of NI unionists in any supposed future UI would hardly matter .

    We have to be careful not to allow the current ‘economic ‘ crisis to cloud ‘thinking ‘ re future political possibilities.

    People Irish or otherwise will emigrate for advantage if the gap is there . That’s why ROI and NI have received an influx of immigrants in the past decade . It’s also the reason why there are some 9 million Britons living elsewhere in the world than in the UK and I believe some 6 million Americans . The number of overseas Chinese including longer term Chinese communities in other Asian countries is reputed to be some 70 million .

    Where will or would prospective NI or even ROI emigrants go to advantage anyway in today’s world ? The highly educated have a greater choice particularly if they have the right skills . But for those without those skills they will have to compete with the citizens of their adopted countries and most of those countries at least the english speaking ones are not the magnets they once were .

  • PaddyReilly

    Thinking of two NI Protestant families that I am familiar with, №1 had three children, one now married in US, one in England, one in Wales. №2, two children, both in London. Interestingly, neither were wholly Northern Irish: in one case both parents came from Scotland, in the other one parent was a Protestant from County Galway, lured North by the promise of a job no doubt.

    The capital city is always going to be an attraction: post unification one would expect quite a lot of movement to Dublin as well as London.

    If partition is such a money bringer, maybe we need more of it. Perhaps Carlingford and the area around it could be ceded back to the Norwegians.

    The unitary status of Ireland is a geographical fact, not a misty eyed dream created by Mother Macree type rhetoric. A Martian looking down on the Earth would immediately see the sense of making Ireland into a single geographical administrative unit.

    The idea of solid Unionist taxpayers contrasting with feckless Nationalist DLA drawers may be very comforting to propagandists of the former philosophy, but Unionism historically is pre-eminently a movement of state-servants (policemen and jailers, primarily) who wished to preserve that position. Protestants whose income derived from non-State sources tended to be less bothered by the prospect of unification, in my experience.

    But if net contributors leave, then obviously there is no shortage of people in the world waiting to jump into their shoes.

    Unionists, in my no doubt completely biased opinion, represent primarily the following professions (in order of preference of the Unionist himself)

    1) politician
    2) Barrister
    3) Solicitor
    4) Policeman
    5) Jailer
    6) School-teacher.

    You may wish to correct me by pointing out all the others. But I never heard of a country falling apart for want of barristers. These all seem to be things that are easily replaceable. In London they even have Russians teaching school!

  • John East Belfast

    JoeJoe

    How the two communities relate to one another in NI within the UK – no matter who is First Minister – is pretty well defined in the GFA and I can live with that.

    Somehow I dont think it would be a good idea to send somebody up the Shankill or into East Belfast to start painting Royal Mail boxes green

  • JH

    JEB

    2. Being part of 6th largest Econonmy in the world or part of the ROI who, on the whole, has a track record of lower living standards over the long term.

    Sorry John, but just to put this notion to bed…

    This is really a mix of clever wordplay, optimism and some considerable ignorance. We do not, and will never, share the wealth of, for example, London City, which provides a good chunk of the wealth for Britain. The reason is that we’re in perpetual competition with the South, which has a lower tax rate, better access to skills and uses the single currency. Asked whether any business would locate here never mind stay here if it’s home grown, most will move to the ROI or to GB at some stage.

    Devolution of CT setting powers might help that, but more likely it will just create a tax haven which will create no jobs and thus circulate no more money in the economy.

    Our living standards are considerably lower than those in the South even post bubble. So what you’re making here is really an argument for a United Ireland, where we would be part of a smaller, more agile economic unit that has far more in common with the economic environment of this region.

  • John East Belfast

    JH

    “We do not, and will never, share the wealth of, for example, London City, which provides a good chunk of the wealth for Britain”

    It is called the Block Grant

    “Our living standards are considerably lower than those in the South even post bubble”

    That is not my view and in any event any perceived GDP per head figures in the ROI were a myth and only indicative that the ROI was living beyond its means.

    As for agile economy and lower tax rates and attracting FDI etc that is because the ROI has to contort itself to survive – in NI we dont as we are a full and integral part of the 6th largest economy in the world.

    An independent, sovereign Irish state on the Western edge of Europe and constrained by the EU straightjacket doesnt work in my opinion

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Obviously I, amongst others, was being naive when I thought the GFA would put the national question to bed for a few decades.

    But no. Having signed up to majority consent, SF have done virtually nothing since other than yap about getting what a healthy NI majority clearly don’t want.
    Now we’re being treated to Mitchel’s fantasy economics lesson.

    I would personally love to see SF being a part of the next ROI govt — given their Stormont track record they’ll make a monumental hames of it and even FF will be welcomed back next time round.

    As for JEB’s ‘Unionist-flight’ theories, I’d tend to agree at least anecdotally. Given the triple whammys of complete loss of British identity, economic stagnation and traditional Republican attitudes to anything British (very much including Unionists), a UI could hardly be considered a welcoming or even viable proposition for most Protestants.

    Add to that the experience of southern Protestants since 1922, where numbers plummeted from 10% to 3% (on a gradual rather than ‘mass exodus’ basis), and the analysis by Paddyreilly (above) that the current DUP/UUP vote represents roughly 12% of an all Ireland electorate and there really isn’t a lot of incentive to stay if a viable personal alternative exists.

  • JJ Malloy

    hasn’t anyone figured out the 6 counties aren’t worth killing each other over?

  • barnshee

    “debt interest payments and defence spending, neither of which would be accrued in a united Ireland.”

    So N Ireland expenditure is always funded from tax receipts and Government needs for borrowing never impinges? and would have no need to contribute to “defence forces” ?

  • PaddyReilly

    the analysis by Paddyreilly (above) that the current DUP/UUP vote represents roughly 12% of an all Ireland electorate

    Yes, in 2007 there were two elections in Ireland, an Assembly one in the North and a General Election in the South. The combined total was as follows:-

    Fianna Fáil 859,300
    Fine Gael 563,900
    Sinn Féin 323,083
    Labour 208,600
    DUP 207,721
    SDLP 105,162
    UUP 103,145
    Green 101,736
    Prog Dem 56,396
    Alliance 36,139

    The combined DUP/UUP vote was 310,866, or 12.12% of the total.

    I would personally love to see SF being a part of the next ROI govt — given their Stormont track record they’ll make a monumental hames of it

    Yes folks SF are responsible for all the errors of an Assembly and Executive, even one in which they do not hold a majority! In fact SF are even probably responsible for the current world financial meltdown! You have been warned!

    the experience of southern Protestants since 1922, where numbers plummeted from 10% to 3%

    An interesting question here is this. The British Empire once covered a fifth of the world’s population. Is there any other group of people, apart from the Ulster Unionists, who still value imperial rule from London? Falkland Islands perhaps (voting population 1,232 last election). Are they not the political equivalent of the erechnida, a bird which didn’t ought to exist it is so out of dare?

  • PaddyReilly

    Errata

    I have mispelt the above bird, if it even exists. Coelacanth would be a better example.

    For ‘dare’ read ‘date’.

  • John East Belfast

    Paddy

    I dont know how TD weighting in the Dail works but I think 310,000 voting unionists concentrated in the 6 counties will carry more weight than, for instance 564k FG across 26 Counties.

    Therefore I think Unionism would – if they remained – carry a significant number of TDs to contribute to any Coalition Govt scenario. If the Greens and Labour regularly get into coalition Govt I think the relevant deals could be done.

    “Is there any other group of people, apart from the Ulster Unionists, who still value imperial rule from London”

    Stop being silly – NI is an integral part of the UK – we are not a colony – I am a full British citisen

  • Blair

    “So now the unionist line is that the south can’t afford the north.”

    G O’Neill,

    They can’t afford themselves.

  • John East Belfast

    “So now the unionist line is that the south can’t afford the north”

    That was always the unionist line – it was even in the Ulster Covenant !

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    PR: ‘Yes folks SF are responsible for all the errors of an Assembly and Executive, even one in which they do not hold a majority!’

    Not all of them Paddy — but perhaps you can tell us what SF have actually achieved thus far in Stormont.
    Making a comprehensive mess of the education system, letting MI6 set up a massive camp and refusing to use the words ‘Northern Ireland’ while endorsing the PSNI don’t count by the way.

    ‘Is there any other group of people, apart from the Ulster Unionists, who still value imperial rule from London?’

    Aside from the fact that your statement has no relevance whatsover to the part of my post you quoted, the fact that Ulster Unionists prefer being part of the UK is central to the GFA — that’s why SF signed up to the principle of consent. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it any less of a reality.

    I do however appreciate your quoted 2007 electoral figures, neatly dismissing SF’s past assertion that Unionism would have real clout in a UI. No doubt a similar argument was put forward pre 1921.

  • JH

    JEB

    ‘“We do not, and will never, share the wealth of, for example, London City, which provides a good chunk of the wealth for Britain”

    It is called the Block Grant’

    Eh nope, a block grant isn’t a share in the wealth. It’s a compensation for our lack of share in the wealth.

    ‘That is not my view and in any event any perceived GDP per head figures in the ROI were a myth and only indicative that the ROI was living beyond its means.’

    Tell that to the graduates being offered twice as much to work in Dublin as the corresponding jobs, of which not many exist, in Belfast. Tell it to the luxury fashion outlets, the Italian furniture stores, the multitude of pubs like D2 in Dublin packed every weekend charging €6 a pint, the beauty spas, the BMW/Audi dealerships… All the businesses that depend on high levels of disposable income to shift their high order goods. Businesses that number ten or more in Dublin for every one in Belfast.

    ‘As for agile economy and lower tax rates and attracting FDI etc that is because the ROI has to contort itself to survive – in NI we dont as we are a full and integral part of the 6th largest economy in the world.’

    No it’s not. It’s because the 6th largest economy in the world gives us a yearly handout. It’s unsustainable, the only question is whether we’re going to wait until they can no longer afford to pay it or no longer want to before we try to build our own economy, or whether we start now and consider our options.

    And ‘ROI’ hasn’t had to contort itself, it’s able to survive because it’s a small state and can adapt quickly. Same as a small business. The problem with the north is that it is a tiny state but adopts the tax strategy of a much larger one.

    ‘An independent, sovereign Irish state on the Western edge of Europe and constrained by the EU straightjacket doesnt work in my opinion’

    Seriously? You don’t see how ridiculous that is? Apart from the fact that it’s pure rhetoric, the constraints on the UK from the EU are just as tough. Combine those with the ‘straightjacket’ of being part of the UK, with no fiscal control, and our situation is twice as bad.

    I have no problem with the Unionist identity and aspiration to remain British, but I am sick of paying for it. If you want to aspire to anything greater than being big in the public sector you need to think about getting out of the North, and that’s not going to change for anyone until we start looking at the constitutional options.

  • John East Belfast

    JH

    “I have no problem with the Unionist identity and aspiration to remain British, but I am sick of paying for it”

    To put your post in context – where are you from ?

  • Blair

    JH,

    You make it sound as if the ROI is a fantastic place to live. I’m slightly confused as to why there are press reports of children down there rooting through bins in search of food though. What’s that all about?

  • John East Belfast

    Blair

    I am not quite sure where he lives – he is an expert on NI and the ROI while he thinks he is paying for the former

  • Blair

    John,

    It would certainly be interesting to know. By his own account he must be a British taxpayer so he could come from anywhere in the UK. I wonder how he feels about paying for the north east of England to remain British?

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    “Hollow nationalist rhetoric will not do.”

    Oh indeed, hollow nationalist rhetoric will definitely not do!

    Inded Blair, the ROI is definitely a fantastic place to live, except for “the children rooting through bins in search of food.” Some folk are now reduced to eating their babies as well, clutching their rosary beads and praying to moving statues for miracles of a good recipe among all the roaming vermin! It’s all true too!

  • Blair

    Greaghoir,

    Begoragh. They should go to London where the streets are paved with gold.

  • Blair
  • JH

    For all intents and purposes I’m from Belfast…

    …where about 9 months ago I left the house to find a young fella of about 16 systematically going through the black bin across the road. And many times thereafter. What’s your point? I didn’t say there weren’t problems in Dublin with the gap in wealth. Nor did I make ROI out to be a fantastic place to live (although it’s my personal opinion that both parts of Ireland are), I was just making an argument about spending ability/patterns, which are a strong indicator of the strength of an economy.

    I never claimed to be an expert, I’ve just studied business and run businesses and have an interest in economics, so I feel I’ve first hand experience in how the economy works. Political opinion really shouldn’t come into it.

  • Blair

    “…where about 9 months ago I left the house to find a young fella of about 16 systematically going through the black bin across the road.”

    JH,

    Crikey. That was a handy coincidence. Was he from the ROI?

  • John East Belfast

    JH

    Well explain what you mean then by saying you are “paying” for my unionism – how ?

  • JH

    I should also add that I didn’t say anything about paying for Britishness financially, we pay for it with our freedom to aspire to something greater than being big in the public sector.

  • JH

    Blair

    No, the Village / Lisburn Road I suspect

  • Blair

    “Blair

    No, the Village / Lisburn Road I suspect”

    JH,

    Perhaps he had mistakenly thrown his wallet out.

  • Blair

    “I should also add that I didn’t say anything about paying for Britishness financially, we pay for it with our freedom to aspire to something greater than being big in the public sector.”

    JH,

    Hard to understand when the alternative of aspiring to emigration is out there for the taking.

  • JH

    Now Blair, don’t be falling back on old clichés!

    OK since we’re talking about the economy, why don’t you explain what the options are when the block grant is taken away. And believe me, that day is coming like a freight train! It might not all go at once, but at some stage it will be cut to a level that won’t be so quite easily absorbed by Stormont.

  • John East Belfast

    JH

    Other than universal child beneft I have never drawn an ounce of benefit in my life and I have been a tax payer all my working life as well.

    In addition I am a shareholder in a Northern Irish manufacturing business that exports 85% outside NI and provides employment to over 200 people. It too pays more in corporation tax than it has taken in Invest NI grants.

    Therefore I do take exception to being inferred as a sponger and secondly that what we have achieved cant be done.

    We have developed new products and explored new markets and all within NI and all with the UK Corporation tax rate.

    I am not a defeatist – either about NI business within the UK or about NI in general.

    On a general point there is an obsession about balancing Northern Ireland’s books but in a UK context it possibly cant be done.

    On CT there is so much hot air on this by people who dont know what they are talking about and/or self interested (mostly ROI corporates wanting to re-patriate as much of their NI profits as possible back across the border) parties influencing the debate.

    The optimium level of UK CT is set in Whitehall and they dont want NI or the regions with differential levels to upset the overall UK CT tax take.
    Instead they provide the regions with Block Grants so that the nation can have uniform benefits, standards and public services – that to me is not compensation – its is everyone sharing in the UK nation’s wealth.

    If NI was on its own we would have to balance our books and we would have to try all the tricks the ROI is at – but as a Unionist I feel that Ireland needs to be part of the UK and therefore we dont need to.

    That doesnt mean complacency – there are things that can be done and I have highlighted those on Slugger before.

    As for ROI shopping and drinking habits – i dont have the stats (and neither do you) so I cant comment if the party is continuing.
    If it is then as the State is requiring a multi billion Euro bail out illustrates two things

    1. the budget the other day was totally unfair
    2. the call about an ROI Debt default is unfounded

  • JH

    Come on John be reasonable. I never called you a sponger or inferred that what your company achieved could not be replicated, don’t take it so personally.

    What I am saying is that it can’t be done on such a scale as to create a sustainable economy whilst the current arrangement exists. And that’s what we’re talking about here, data in aggregate. The economy.

    The creation of the IFSC is a perfect example. It was the small state agility that allowed the IFSC to go from being an idea to becoming realised in a relatively short space of time, creating over 20,000 jobs both directly and indirectly as a result.

    I’m in the tech industry, one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing sector in the world. So if I’m to stay in Europe, where do I eventually need to be? That’s right, ROI, where we can benefit from the network effect of having the international/European offices of Google, Facebook, Intel, Microsoft, Amazon and Dell on our doorstep.

    Contrast that with Belfast, could we have an IFSC here? I don’t think so. Not only that but if you’re a graduate of something other than essential services; dentistry, medicine, nursing, accountancy, law etc, and unless your skills are of value to Andor or one of the other few big private companies then your prospects are not good for staying at home. You either get with the idea of joining the civil service or you consider leaving.

    It’s great that your company is able to provide employment, export and create wealth here. Unfortunately one swallow doesn’t make a summer.

  • Blair

    “Now Blair, don’t be falling back on old clichés!

    OK since we’re talking about the economy, why don’t you explain what the options are when the block grant is taken away. And believe me, that day is coming like a freight train! It might not all go at once, but at some stage it will be cut to a level that won’t be so quite easily absorbed by Stormont.”

    JH,

    Your entire argument is based around the ‘certainty’ that the block grant will be taken away. That is an absolute nonsense. As our economy improves and more private sector jobs are introduced we may see that grant reducing in size, especially as career dole families find themselves having to work for a living, but the notion that we will suddenly be left in the lurch by our government is nonsense.

    The other part of your argument is that there are better opportunities for young people to carve out glittering careers in the south. That is laughable nonsense.

  • HeinzGuderian

    One Swallow flying across Southern Ireland,would be quickly snapped up……………and fried !! 🙂

  • Jean Meslier

    At least peteb is referring, in a peripheral way, to the dreaded 25 southern counties.
    This has to be progress

  • John East Belfast

    Jean

    Which one is he not referring to then ?

    Are you from round here ?

  • John East Belfast

    JH

    The problem with a lot of what you re saying is that it is about 3 years out of date.

    All those high class shops you are talking about and the Financial Services chancers and bluffers who shopped in them are the very people who have brought the country to its knees,

    Also you seem to overlook the fact that Belfast and Dublin are only 100 miles apart.
    If you cant leverage the cost advantages of Belfast – labour, rents and general cost of living wihout actually packing up and moving to Dublin then you are missing an opportunity.

    Not to mention the ability to do the same with London with who you have the same currency as well as tax and legal structures.

    You seem to think that small countries are agile and nimble to react – but that is not the case when you are in the EU and part of the Euro

  • Barnshee

    “OK since we’re talking about the economy, why don’t you explain what the options are when the block grant is taken away. And believe me, that day is coming like a freight train! It might not all go at once, but at some stage it will be cut to a level that won’t be so quite easily absorbed by Stormont”

    Could easily be absorbed

    1 Realistic approach to benefits

    UTV News – One in five claim DLA in west Belfast

    Derry. 1 in 5 are on DLA.
    http://www.u.tv/news/Minister-questions-DLA-shake-up-plan/b1b7fe4c-8cd5-46e3-b882-cccbac1bfbf8

    2 Consolidate local councils to county level + Belfast

    3 Reduce MLA contingent to 70/80

    4 Reduce all Public sector salaries over (say) 80K by 10%? 15% ?

    5 Consolidate education– remove ALL funding for religious education from ALL schools parents to choose to pay for religious education if wanted

    etc etc

  • Jean Meslier

    John East Belfast

    “..Jean
    Which one is he not referring to then ?
    Are you from round here ?..”

    DONEGAL. (esp SW)
    It’s off peteb’s radar, and is never to be metioned again so long as a Shinner represents it.

    S’cuse me while I put another worm on the hook

  • james

    she did say ‘southern counties’ John EB, which is correct as Donegal is in the NorthWest and indeed Northern Ireland is to the SouthEast of parts of it.

    Regarding the thread, I’m actually quite surprised that NI only costs approx 4Billion per annum, interesting to note that the annual cost of NI is roughly equal to one month of Irelands trade surplus (at the moment, last year it was hitting 13Billion per month)

    Britain runs a trade deficit of about 8Billion, so every month Ireland is about 12Billion better off or a 150billion every year.

    Ireland can easily afford unification, it would grow the economy by 25% (more or less) and it would be in Britains interest as Britain has a surplus of trade of about 20Billion to Ireland at the moment so this would grow.

    Do the people of NI have the final say, yes they do, can HMG encourage them to make the choice HMG would like, yes they can.

    The GFA is one example.

  • Greenflag

    ‘can HMG encourage them to make the choice HMG would like, yes they can.’

    No they can’t . According to the GFA -HMG will respect the wishes of the NI electorate whatever decision they make at some point .

    @james ,

    No HMG can’t even if they wanted to . Can you imagine ROI’s government encouraging Donegal , Cavan , Monaghan and Leitrim to join up with Northern Ireland so as to relieve the Republic of the economic burden of those counties ? . NI would’nt want them anyway as such a transfer would immediately put ‘unionist’ voters into a minority in such a new NI . Mind you the UUP might just go for it with their new ‘outreach ‘ program for attracting RC voters . Chancellor Osborne would be even less amused than Mr Clegg was the other day at Doddsies verbal grenade at the Government’s weakest link .

  • PaddyReilly

    All capital cities suck into themselves the wealth of the provinces they govern. The capital becomes rich; the provinces poor. This does not mean that the capital would be better off without the provinces: if Rome were to cede from Italy, the Italians would designate another capital, and the flow of wealth would be diverted there, instead of to Rome. So it makes sense to keep the provincials happy with occasional hand-outs, which is effectively what the block grant is.

    Such hand-outs are not normally commensurate with the amount of wealth which the province loses to the capital. However, in certain cases, especially when the province is an overseas dependency, it is possible that it genuinely constitutes a financial drain: Gibraltar is almost certainly such a drain. Given Gordon Brown’s recent remarks about Peter Robinson’s hands in his pockets, it may be that NI is such a drain.

    I cannot say if this is really the case: but consider this: either NI is subsidising London, in which case a United Ireland is readily affordable, as Dublin can afford to take on the responsibility of being the recipient of NI’s largesse: or London is actually subsidising NI, due to PR’s consummate pick-pocketing skills, in which case London will, as soon as it gets the opportunity, act to stanch the outflow. It is not something that can be relied upon.

    So the best financial option for NI is a United Ireland with, as I have suggested, 3 capitals like South Africa, Dublin, Belfast & Armagh. In that way some of the wealth will come flowing back.