David McWilliams has an interesting column in today’s Sunday Business Post which muses on whether a United Ireland may not be that far away.
The essential premise of McWilliams argument is that looking through history we have seen rapid changes, some of them very unexpected. Even in our own history, McWilliams points out the seemingly clear run that the Irish Parliamentary Party had in 1915 which would be abruptly destoryed in 1918 by the Sinn Fein sweep. Furthermore, he points out the shift in the dynamics within the Nationalism away from a Home Rule parliament towards an independent republic.
McWilliams muses on the impact of Britains membership of the European Union and economic splits within the EU on our domestic politics. He argues that in the context of a EU and UK relignment the willingness of the UK to prop up Northern Ireland could possibly change.
Speaking about a United Ireland McWilliams writes about some demographic issues;
As I write, I am looking at demographics in Northern Ireland from the 2011 census. The most interesting statistic shows the proportion of Catholic vs Protestant in various age groups. Of the over 90 population in the North, 64 per cent are Protestant and 25 per cent Catholic. A total of 9 per cent had no declared religion.
This reflects the religious status quo when these people were born in the 1920s and more or less reflects the realities of the Treaty.
Now look at the same figure for the under 4s, those children and babies born since 2008. This corresponding figure is 44 per cent Catholic and 31 per cent Protestant. In one (admittedly long) lifetime, the Catholic population in the youngest cohort has almost doubled., which the Protestant one has more than halved.
Even given the fact that 23 per cent of parents of infants declared themselves as have no religion. we seem to be en route to a united Ireland.
The entire column is worth a read and you can get it in the Sunday Business Post today or the author normally blogs his pieces on his website here
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs