North -South is a political gift going a-begging

Two cheers to the Financial Times (£) for giving space to one of the many topics that people in Northern Ireland who live close to it take for granted but shouldn’t. The story is headlined

Irish two-speed economy puts integration under pressure”.

Sixteen years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement that ushered in a fragile but enduring peace in Northern Ireland – and helped boost the “Celtic Tiger” economy that was then taking off in the Republic – the economic and financial contrast between the two parts of Ireland has rarely been so sharp. “The border is a lot wider than you’d think it would be,” says Alan Ahearne, professor of economics at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

The republic experienced the gravest financial crisis in its history between 2008 and 2010.

Today, Northern Ireland is experiencing a fiscal crisis that, in some respects, is as severe as in the republic at its nadir.

The two-speed economy now threatens to unwind what little integration there is.

Integration? What integration? Simply by raising it, while they do little to help with their absurd posturing over fiscal policy, the subject could yet give a boost to a Sinn Fein currently under pressure for different reasons. North-south economic development without necessarily having constitutional implications would be a gift to what is  laughingly called the centre ground of politics – if only they  could bring themselves to seek advice on policy. It’s just one of the ironies of our wretched politics that everybody’s crying poverty – including the experts – but can’t be bothered to do anything about it. North-south is all the more relevant precisely because of hard times not in spite of them.

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  • Riocard Ó Tiarnaigh

    Well said, Brian!

  • Ernekid

    The Total lack of a Coherent North-South economic and community development strategy from the SDLP is just another reason why that party makes me despair.
    We are getting everything I expected from Sinn Fein. They want a united Ireland but won’t do anything to bring it about in real terms

    Really though, the SDLP and Alliance have been totally dreadful on this front, They could use their ministries to come up with all sorts of innovative Cross border projects that’d save money and improve island relations. Eg. Alliance could use their Justice Ministry to develop better police cooperation and training between the forces, Joint PSNI-Gardai operations in border areas. An all island police college in say Omagh, or Drogheda.

    The SDLP could use the Environment ministry to create a cross border coastal protection and preservation scheme for example, Pioneer a joint strategy with Dublin to protect our woodlands.

    Simple stuff, that won’t rock the boat, Save money and improve cross border relations.

    The lack of projects like this is infuriating

  • barnshee

    Shock horror Two areas with

    Different currencies
    Different political systems
    Different health systems
    Different fiscal systems

    Add in an area where a significant portion of the population regards the other with a range of attitudes from distaste to downright disgust and there`s little if any co-operation. Well whoda thunk it?