In the gloom of Summer a debate about Irish unity has begun

Brian noted a piece written by Aaron McKenna on The about why Irish unity is a fundamentally bad idea.

Responding to his piece, Sinn Fein’s Matt Carthy sets out his view about why unity is a good idea.

Regardless of your views on either, I am personally half way between them on this issue, I think the debate is a really good one to have; here is where Matt attempts to set out some the nuts and bolts of unity

Some commentators and political figures try to distract and halt demands for change by focusing on estimates of public expenditure in the north.

The truth is we would all be better off with a single economy within Ireland.

Outlandish numbers are frequently presented to illustrate the level of subsidy of the north by Britain, with no focus upon resources generated within the north.

The fact is the people of the north pay taxes that are returned directly to Britain, but the British government has refused on repeated occasions to publish the exact amount of taxes that are raised in the north.

The most recent and complete estimates of the level of taxes raised in the north are available in a report commissioned by the former Finance Minister in the north, Sammy Wilson, and it underestimates the amount of revenue raised in the north in 2011-12 at £14.1 billion.

These figures are incomplete because they fail to take account of the level of corporation tax and VAT generated within the north by companies with British headquarters. The British Treasury tells us that in the same year for which Sammy Wilson has provided us with an estimate for revenue, the northern executive and councils spent £17.7bn.

That leaves an over-estimated fiscal gap of £3.6 billion, much less than the deficit McKenna quotes. Sinn Féin will continue to demand that the British government release full and accurate details of the amount of revenue generated in the north so that we can move beyond this stale non-debate.

Integrated economy

Let’s be clear, simply maintaining the status quo in the form of two separate competing economies on a tiny island will not deliver prosperity for the people of this island.

There are no advantages for a small island nation on the edge of Europe having separate tax regimes, regulatory and legal systems, disparate economic development agencies and programmes, divergent and competing investment strategies and economic policies.

Harmonised and integrated policies, laws and structures across the island are central to creating a fully integrated and healthy economy.

Healthcare is one area in which the case for Irish unity is strong.

There are multiple examples in which a better service has been delivered through an all-Ireland approach. The new joint cancer centre in Derry now provides services for patients from throughout the north-west. No longer will patients from Donegal or Derry have to travel to Belfast or Dublin for treatments.

There are opportunities within a new integrated island wide structure to reconfigure how we deliver health services across this island.

The total money spent per person within the current regressive health system in the south is more than what is spent per person in the north of Ireland or in Britain.

With vision, commitment and determination we could deliver better services to all the people of Ireland north and south.

People who read this site know my views, but in an attempt to further the debate on this issue, I think both of these articles are worth a read.


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  • Tochais Siorai

    ‘… many nation-states can you name that have voluntarily relinquished sovereignty over part of their territory?
    Nearly happened in Scotland a few months ago.

  • gendjinn

    Anglo=Irish is incorrect that the south doesn’t want the north. Polls put it over 60% support for re-unification. There’s more a wariness/dread of the challenges and costs involved in the process, knowing how Unionism will behave.

  • barnshee

    You carefully miss my point my plan removes the need for subsidy since the main cost factors are gone or funded by the ROI—those irish passports will come in handy

  • John Collins

    Well their country is going as much as £5.333 more in debt every second and this might force them to review their benevolent stance in relation to NI. Of course I have no doubt that if their is a border poll in the South it will be roundly defeated and England will be stuck with NI whether they like it or not. On balance I think ye deserve each other.

  • barnshee

    “the price was paid by the British administrative class.

    Au contraire

    The ” the British administrative class.” arrived home to Cheltenham and the home counties on their comfortable pensions

    The price was paid by those stupid enough to stay behind being assured that they were all “children of the nation” to find that they were boycotted intimidated or murdered out of their status as ” children of the nation”

    A close comparison — the prods stupid enough to stay behind in the ROI and those stupid enough to stay behind in Rhodesia /Zimbabwe

    Close parallels

  • barnshee

    Well in general the prods (small families, little /no need for DLA, child tax credits etc would do OK

  • barnshee

    There are non so blind as those who do not read the whole blog

  • Paddy Reilly

    Dunmanway is, it has to be admitted, the nearest equivalent
    to Broughshane in the Irish Republic. But the Kingstons managed to grow up there, so it can’t be that bad.

  • Paddy Reilly

    The Catholic birth rate is around 14.3 per 1000 population and the Protestant rate 12.6. The difference is minimal. But the Protestant retired vastly outnumber the Catholic retired.

    This could also be a useful field for savings. Send all state dependant pensioners to retirement homes in Llandudno, Bournemouth and Valencia, without distinction of religion or nationality and Northern Ireland would have an instant Catholic majority.

    But as it will only take 16 months to achieve this by the normal rate of decease and replacement it doesn’t seem worth it.

  • barnshee

    Hilarious ROI 97 per cent Roman Catholic is welcoming lol

  • Robin Keogh

    Why would the norths share of the uk defense budget be 400 million in a united ireland? And why do u assume that Ireland will have to maintain payments towards the UK debt after unity? Has the British government told SF or anybody else that they have no way to audit ‘regionally’? Finally if they cant accurately asses the NI tax take regionaly how do we know what that revenue actually is? Genuine questions for u there newt.

  • barnshee

    But the British are gone are they not?

  • Reader

    Robin Keogh: Why would the norths share of the uk defense budget be 400 million in a
    united ireland? And why do u assume that Ireland will have to maintain
    payments towards the UK debt after unity?

    Surely he means the north’s share of the Irish defence budget? And why wouldn’t your share of the family debt follow you after a divorce?

  • Reader

    You missed the point. Like you, I am not impressed with the ‘pack your bags’ style of problem management from either side. But though you have identified “them and us” as a problem, you still haven’t made any suggestions as to how to fix it. Are you planning to wave a magic wand?

  • Zeno

    “we want out but know it won’t be easy, but it will happen.”

    That sounds like a wish rather than anything based on reason and logic. There is absolutely zero evidence that Ireland will ever be reunited, so what are you basing your assertions on? Money? We can’t afford NI? Lets ship it to the ROI. If that logic works the ROI will say no thanks we definitely can’t afford it.

  • Mister_Joe

    I haven’t been following the weather over there; is it really gloomy (that is one of the reasons I emigrated)?

  • Zeno

    “However, patience and money have run out, and continuing with this ongoing abhorrent moronic behaviour can no longer be tolerated.”

    I see no evidence of that.

    “why it is in Britain’s interest to continue with the present situation ad infinitum.”

    Why not, the money doesn’t bother them. They sacrificed their soldiers to keep NI. You’re argument is based on money. £10 billion is a tiny percentage of the UK Budget. It’s around 0.013%.
    Then you have the problem that at least 70% of the population here don’t want to join a United Ireland. What are you going to do with them?

  • Zeno

    “As for the 75% who don’t want to leave, you have a way of backing up that statement?”

    What evidence will you accept? All the Polls ,election results and surveys support that.

    Less than 23% vote for Nationalist Parties.
    23% describe themselves as Nationalist in the NILT Survey, 2012
    Less than; 26% described themselves as Irish in the 2011 Census.

    None of the Polls show more than 26% want UI, and that was in response to the softest possible question. Would you like a United Ireland in 20 years?

  • Zeno

    So now you are saying that the UK will just walk away from Northern Ireland and break a legal International Treaty? If we are going down that road it works both ways. The ROI could say, we don’t want it, we can’t afford and we don’t want to have half a million or more people forced to join us. Both are nonsense positions.

  • Zeno

    “The authorities get what they want in the end even if they have to finesse – or lie to and bamboozle, if you prefer – the general public.”

    That’s fair enough, but do you think it’s just the British who get what they want. The reasons you give for Britain supposedly wanting out i.e, money sectarianism riots etc are the exact same reasons why the Irish Government will find a way not to take NI. If an economy 15 or 20 times the size of theirs can’t afford it. They definitely can’t. The Irish Army don’t have the resources or manpower to handle any backlash.
    So you’re stuck with it.

  • Zeno

    “Now here’s what you need to take into consideration, if a majority of the population are catholic it means that they have no inbred fear and hatred of the ROI do they?”

    What makes you think Catholics are automatically Nationalist? The evidence says different.

  • Zeno

    Why bring up Catholics then in a conversation about a United Ireland if not to imply that a Catholic majority means a Nationalist majority?

    “none of you can come up with a good reason as to why Britain should continue to put up with your inability to live together and behave like civilized people.”

    There are 1.4 million people in Northern Ireland over 18. The vast majority live happily together, but there are maybe 25/50 thousand nutters who engage in sectarian acts. Don’t tar everyone with the same brush.

  • Zeno

    23% of those registered to vote ,vote Nationalist.
    25% describe themselves as Irish in the census. 26% say they would like a UI in 20 years time. 4% of those said they want one now.
    It’s a long long way from 50+1
    28% describe themselves as Unionist
    Almost half of the population describe themselves as neither. They don’t vote or vote for neutral parties.
    You are seriously out of touch with the local Zeitgeist.

  • John Collins

    I suppose the Brits never bombed or killed anybody or indeed Loyalists. The McMahons, Louglinisland Greysteel etc. Add in baton charging Civil Rights Marches and burning people out of their homes since 1795 in the second ‘To Hell or to Connacht’ campaign. ‘Ah shure’ it is only what Loyalists do

  • John Collins

    Paddy I am delighted you brought those figures to light about the human productivity of both sides of the religious divide. It just illustrates the utter drivel spoken by Barnshee in relation to this subject.

  • John Collins

    Interesting. Your sick children are going to be treated in Dublin.

  • Zeno

    There is no evidence that there is more than 23% to 25% who describe themselves as nationalist or behave like a nationalist.
    Less than 23% vote for Nationalist Parties.
    23% describe themselves as Nationalist in the NILT Survey, 2012
    Less than; 26% described themselves as Irish in the 2011 Census.
    None of the Polls show more than 26% want UI.
    Four different sources all saying much the same thing. The vast majority of people here don’t give a toss about the Union or a United Ireland.
    You are really out of touch. Northern Ireland is one of the best and safest places in the world to live, and it’s getting better. The fact that there are a few thousand nutters makes no difference.

  • Zeno

    “Do all unionists behave like unionists?”

    If you mean by Unionists people who want to keep the Union then yes they do.

    “There are very few places in the UK where you feel the need to determine which side someone is on before feeling comfortable in their company, but NI is the main one.”

    I’ve lived here most of my life and I have never felt the need to do that. Few people do………. thugs are thugs no matter what tribe they belong to.

  • barnshee

    I think you will find

    1 1790 and all that had substantial Prod support and the
    Burning of the Prods at Scullabogue sort of put them off
    2 The failure of “republicans ” to turn up at the battle of Antrim left the AFM prods alone to take it on the chin again

    I don`t think the”Brits” bombed anyone unless of course you mean the British citizens who replied in kind to the RA -and who could blame them?

  • John Collins

    No one could blame anyone for Greysteel and Loughlinisland??
    Make no mistake the perpetrators here werecowardly thugs like the IRA.
    By the way who provoked the UVF in 1966?
    And the ‘Hell or to Connacht’ campaign was on before Scullabogue ever occurred.
    BTW as regards the ‘Brits never bombed anybody’ comment I am sure people in Hamburg, Cologne and Dresden might not agree, not to mention the thousands Blair had bombed in Iraq.

  • John Collins

    With modern technology I doubt that NI is of the same strategic importance to GB as it was back in the ‘forties.

  • John Collins

    Well Galway was less that half the size of Derry in 1920, it is now bustling and about once and a half the size of the Maiden City. Limerick has also progressed further that Derry. There are successful regional Airports in Knock, Kerry and an international one in Shannon. There are motorways, or at least dual carriageways, between most of the major cities and Dublin and between Limerick and Galway and Waterford and Cork. I agree Donegal has fallen behind but there seems to be more of a will to get going on rectifying that situation in the ROI than there is in NI to reinvigorate the second City there.