Perhaps it is no surprise that people are not fixated on constitutional issues…

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 13.03.36You can almost hear the conversation between the Government Spin Doctors on Wednesday afternoon… “It’s only a pointless TV poll about the North… Who cares? No one in the South knows who Stephen Nolan is. Let’s send out Jimmy Deenihan… sure, what harm can he do…”

To be fair to MoS Jimmy Deenihan his “No, really” reply to the question if the Republic could afford Northern Ireland if there was unity tomorrow has not done any real or lasting harm.

It has not set North/South relations or dialogue back more than a few minutes, but it is a clip that will be played over and over again in the minds of both Unionist and Shinner politicians alike when they consider whether politicians in the South are really serious about the prospect of a United Ireland.

Though Jimmy’s “No, really” was just an acknowledgement of the fact that the Government does not have a few billion to spare to facilitate unity tomorrow morning, it’s stark almost shocked delivery does again suggest a Government – or should I more correctly say two Government parties – who are disinterested and disengaged in Northern Ireland.

The fact that Fine Gael’s spin masters sent Jimmy, not a noted live TV performer and not someone dealing with the political situation in the North on a regular basis, out to the Studio rather than a more experienced and seasoned Fine Gael-er reinforces the impression of neglect and indifference – this was not something with which to bother a senior FG Minister.

Perhaps it was just the show and the poll they were planning not to take seriously, but the effect was to expose their deeper problem. Both governments indifference has allowed public trust to be undermined, something reflected in the poll results they were there to discuss.

Almost half of West Belfast children (46%) live in poverty, while pensioner poverty in Northern Ireland is 30% higher than it is in the UK. There is such a dearth of economic and social development and such contracted levels of trust in political parties in the North that it is no surprise that people not fixated on constitutional issues.

Yes, really.

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  • barnshee

    jasus honest politicans what next

  • Zeno

    “Almost half of West Belfast children (46%) live in poverty, while pensioner poverty in Northern Ireland is 30% higher than it is in the UK. ”

    I find this hard to believe, the figures have been bandied about quit a bit recently. What are they based on and where do they come from? I don’t know a single kid in West Belfast who doesn’t have a mobile phone.

  • kensei

    I bet they all have flat screen TVs too. And inside toilets.

  • mickfealty

    Kensei, don’t wind him up.

    Zeno, if you want to avoid the TROLL sign, then please advance some evidential reasons for your scepticism.

  • Robin Keogh

    Zeno dont be surprised, figures suggest that up to 35% of kids in the south are living in poverty and we are the tenth richest country in the world.

  • Robin Keogh

    You can be as sure as eggs can fry on a desert stone that FG and Labour could not give a monkeys nut about the North. Deenihan said no. I wish i only wish someone had asked him live had he ever read the details of the norths annual budget or studied the details of the fiscal deficit and what part of it is not applicalbe to the six counties in a UI scenario. Gombeen stuff if ever i saw it. It was funnier when Nolan gave Doherty one full minute to sell the economics of Irish Unity to him and then shouted at him after just ten seconds.

  • mickfealty

    I’ll be clipping the whole sequence Robin. Including the unseemly row between Pearse and Arlene over how much it would cost. Absorbing a population one third the size of your own is a massive undertaking. Subvention is only the ongoing capital hit, on top of that you have start up costs of all manner.

    On the topic though (once you’ve finishing playing tricks with the Deenihan ball), the truth is the chief advocates for UI in NI have been slow to demonstrate they understand the actual benefits by presiding over some of the most abject poverty on these islands over the last 30 years.

  • Robin Keogh

    Straight off the bat Mick you are on the wrong foot. There is no need to absorb anyone or anything. NI is not an underveloped state, it is not lacking in educational standard, it has a perfectly fine physical infrastructure.

    Unity means coming together. Not taking over. New Flag, New Anthem, New Ireland.

    The subvention is a mathematical distraction. Four billion of it relates to uk wide economic costs that are not applicable in an all Ireland context.

    I am trying to find time to write up a piece explaining the subvention in the context of a lack of detailed figures from London.

  • Zeno

    Seriously Mick???
    I’m in West Belfast regularly. I just don’t see the poverty. I was just looking into the definition because to me poverty is not having food or essentials but the official definition is…… if you have below 60% of the National average household income. That’s not real poverty. Real poverty is starving and having no clothes or shoes.

  • smcgiff

    There’s zero chance that the Republic is going to pay £5 Billion a year for nostalgia. There is an economic case for NI joining wit the ROI to form a New Ireland, but NI needs to become more successful first.
    However, a more successful (skilled for the 21st century knowledge economy, less PS dependent) NI will mean it less likely to want to change. That is the conundrum.
    If there was an argument to make NI a failed state to make it more amenable to joining the ROI then proponents of such got a massive wake up call. The people in the ROI would say, thanks, but no thanks to such a bill.

  • 23×7

    Chicken and egg. It is impossible for N.I. (or the North East or North Wales) to be successful in the current UK London centric system.

  • 23×7

    Indeed it’s not as though the taps would be shut off overnight. There would be interim arrangements.

    The glaring gap in all of these discussions was health. Moving to an insurance based healthcare system in the south would be a show stopper for many if it ever came to a ballot.

  • Old Mortality

    Robin

    You could tell that Doherty was short of arguments in favour of UI. He mentioned the exchange rate and two currencies as if they were separate arguments as well as trotting out the usual stuff about duplication in the public sector . No ideas as to how it might strengthen the real economy (so very SF).

    By the way, you don’t need to examine the minutiae of NI’s fiscal deficit; you just have to look at the numbers of people wholly or partly dependent on the state for a living-not far short of 40% – and ask whether a relatively small economy like the RoI could sustain it. Ironic to see how SF spurn the political gift of welfare reform and other public sector cuts that the British government is offering them.

  • Old Mortality

    Robin
    10th richest country in the world?
    You should get out of Ireland a bit more.

  • Robin Keogh

    Wouldnt happen, universal healthcare in the south is progressing, its the direction we are heading supported by all parties. If its not in place in time for unity, there is nothing to stop the six counties maintaining its NHS arrangements until the south catch up.

  • Robin Keogh

    He mentioned nothing because he never got time to say anything. i like Nolan as i think his hysterics are funny but lets face it he is hardly an accomplished listener.

    The public state is the public state. No reason why much of it could not be centralised in the North. Growth in the South is now firing away good oh ! A united ireland could benifit and improve that with the removal of a currency tripwire and integrated tax system

    Rather than be envious of how well one part of your homeland is performing economically, why not just look it up?

  • Zeno

    That because poverty apparent is not the same as it’s defined in the dictionary Robin.

  • barnshee

    40% won`t look at it nearer 60-70

  • barnshee

    Repeat
    NI has the lowest average wages in the UK the lowest disposable income and the the highest benefit bill

    What makes you think NI pays it share of UK tax?

  • barnshee

    And who pray would pay for such largesse

  • TruthToPower

    I agree with Zeno

  • James7e

    “Almost half of West Belfast children (46%) live in poverty”. Begs the question as to what the reps they choose to elect are doing about that. Presumably nothing.

  • Zeno

    “Rather than be envious of how well one part of your homeland is performing economically, why not just look it up?”

    Jeez Robin a few days ago you were complaining about poverty , the number of homeless people and the collapse of the Health Service.
    I’m confused

  • Nigel Watson

    Hi Robin

    Just so I get this straight (I work in sales), the pitch to southern voters is…

    A lot of grumpy prods, higher taxes, bolchie north Catholics, old flag OUT, old anthem OUT, less political influence for any given constituency of the old ROI

    I think if you got 33% of southern’s voting for that ever, you should give up politics and move into sales…you’d make a fortune !!!

    I find the south alter attractive as a country because it seems focuses on the future & looking out to the world…I only wish I could say that of NI…If last night was the start of a SERIOUS debate I think we will look back & say it was a turning point for the politics on this island…1916 is a long time ago, people don’t do what priests tell them any more!!!

  • Robin Keogh

    No larger than it is now, paid in the same way as it is now

  • Zeno

    Would we be paying 52% Tax?

  • Robin Keogh

    No reasons why the tax rates couldnt stay the same as the south, which would benifit six county workers

  • Robin Keogh

    Well lets not be straight. I am floating ideas, thats all. It has to be part of a much broader discussion over a long period of time.

  • Robin Keogh

    You wouldnt be confused if you understood how gdp and gnp is measured.

  • Zeno

    I do understand it. I studied Economics. Do you?

  • Zeno

    Except for the ones paying 52%.

  • Robin Keogh

    can u expand on that Zeno?

  • Robin Keogh

    Tell me what a per capita GDP measurement means?

  • Robin Keogh

    Hey Ging, i was away for two weeks courtesy of Mick. How can i contact u outside this site?

  • Zeno

    The higher rate of Tax here is 40%. No one wants to pay 52%

  • Robin Keogh

    The higher rate of tax in the south is40%. your higher rate of tax is 45%

  • Zeno

    Ireland’s higher rate is is
    52% when PRSI and USC are also included.

  • Gingray

    Typical Zeno, getting the numbers WRONG!

    Highest tax band in UK is 45% silly, not 40%.

    Also, you have added in PRSI and USC in for the south, yet ignored national insurance in north. It’s 12% for highest tax bracket.

    So 45% + 12% = 57%, substantially higher than your figure of 40%.

    And you claim to have studied economics yet are unable to count. Yikes.

    Zero for Zeno.

    http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/tax-rates

  • Robin Keogh

    And your higher rate is 57% percent when national insurance is included. Lets get into this Zeno.. i am gonna enjoy it.

  • Gingray

    Gingray1@hotmail.com

    Sorry changed it once thought you had it. Don’t plan on keeping it here

  • Croiteir

    Not so – if the north was successful why change. Unionism would correctly point out the success of the arrangement and ask “why risk it”. However if the arrangement is failing as it has continuously since partition, (with the exception of a small blip die to the Emergency), then nationalism can rightly observe that partition has been an economic failure, as it has.
    If the latter scenario lead to the north voting for reintegration with the rest of the country you are saying that the south would vote no due to the economy. That would leave the north in a limbo constitutionally. Cannot see that scenario happening.

  • Croiteir

    Indeed – it was tragic stuff however when the hapless and lightweight Claire Hanna was asked and could only grin inanely.

  • Croiteir

    I don’t think anyone proposed those terms. Except perhaps yourself.

  • Croiteir

    You are also supposing that the UK can afford its health care arrangements or that they want to. a bit of an assumption.

  • Croiteir

    Did you nor read the posts earlier this week on tax freedom day. Earlier in the south than the north.

  • Robin Keogh

    Huh?

  • Zig70

    Doesn’t the responsibility fall to all off us in NI? Are you suggesting we section bits off and if they elect a numpty then they all starve? Sounds like the hunger games.

  • James7e

    No, I’m not suggesting that. What I am suggesting is that local politicians actually start working to serve the communities they are elected to serve. We hear a lot about Sinn Fein’s strategies to secure pardons for murderers, rename playgrounds after convicted terrorists and generally contribute to the sectarian fissires in our society. What have they been doing to help lift more of their constituents’ children out of poverty? Anyone? And if, as it seems, these strategies (if they exist at all) haven’t been working, why not? Robin? Are you there?

  • Roger

    “the south”…please….Is Donegal south? Is even Dublin south? Ok, Kerry is,

  • Roger

    http://www.uktaxcalculators.co.uk/

    http://services.deloitte.ie/tc/

    just plug in the numbers; I reckon every on paying the higher rate pays more tax in Ireland than in UK

  • smcgiff

    That’s what I’m saying. A basket case would not be accepted by the ROI tax paying electorate.

  • peepoday

    Please, Robin sell us the economics of irish unity.This is your chance ,we promise not to interrupt.

  • Zeno

    “Typical Zeno, getting the numbers WRONG!
    Highest tax band in UK is 45% silly, not 40%.”

    No one said it wasn’t. The higher rate which is what I am talking about is 40%.
    UK Tax Bands are
    BASIC 20%
    HIGHER 40% (That’s H-I-G-H-E-R not Highest)
    ADDITIONAL 45%

    It’s better if you have some understanding what you are commenting on in case you look stupid.

  • Zeno
  • Zeno

    No. I’m just basing it on what my friends in the South tell me. The do some whinging about that 52%.

  • Gingray

    Pathetic. I wouldn’t expect a keyboard troll to have the cojones to admit he was wrong.

    So now what you are claiming is rather than lying about the top rate in the UK, you deliberately chose to pick the maximum tax in the south including add ons, and compared it to the middle band with no add ons.

    Interesting way of doing analysis there, don’t go like for like, pick a number that suits your bigoted point of view.

    Pathetic.

    You have form for these kind of lies, thankfully everyone knows you for what you are.

    I just don’t get why hard core loyalists like you need to lie when there are so many facts that can be used against nationalism.

  • Zeno

    On its own it doesn’t mean an awful lot. I’ll explain why. If I remember correctly Google have 2500 Employees in Ireland. Their turnover is 15 Billion (EDIT) so in theory each of those people are producing 6 million in goods or services and that is economic activity.
    Do you understand why that gives a completely false picture?

  • Zeno

    It’s better if you have some understanding what you are commenting on in case you look stupid.

  • Gingray

    Zeno
    6 million times 2500 does not equal 15 million. Woops

  • Zeno

    Thank you I’ve fixed my typo. Much appreciated.

  • Gingray

    Comment Deleted

  • Gingray

    No, you have fixed one of your “typos”. Over 1000 more posts full of lies and misinformation to go …

  • Nigel Watson

    Hi Croiteir

    I’m just summarising what appears to be the current offer to southern voters…just to summarise my own view I’m persuadable on a UI, I’m hoping to prompt some serious debate amongst those who actively support the idea to actually get serious. The first step in any serious effort is to honestly assess the current situation.

    I think any unionist reading these threads will be able to take great comfort in the level of self-delusion within many republicans

    I could have been much stronger on the sales pitch…I didn’t mention the deeply ingrained victim culture (across all of NI society) & the deeply ingrained “only good job is a public job” mentality

  • murdockp

    Not true, try setting up a business in NI, it is a ‘fucking nightmare’ from start to finish dealing with the public service. This is what has to change.

  • Zeno

    Play the ball. just the ball.

  • Gingray

    Classic Zeno, tell some lies, get caught out, cry about the ball. You have been completely discredited on Slugger and are viewed as a troll by your fellow unionists.

    So why did you choose the middle UK tax band and compare it to the top irish tax band plus add ons?

  • Robin Keogh

    Now gnp?

  • Robin Keogh

    Lol, it states quite clearly in the link you sent that the UK’s highest income tax rate is 45%

  • Robin Keogh

    What amount should i plug in?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Howdy Croiteir

    I’m not so sure about that.

    Imagine IF NI could be made to be either economical or at least not a complete money pit.

    Couple that with the potential of a strong southern economy.

    You then have the scenario where NI is not so expensive for the south, still a pain in the ass for London and the envy factor of the south doing well (which would help to decimate the unicorn vote).

    That would be a very good position for nationalism and/or re-unificationism (imo).

  • Roger

    I suppose you could try a bunch of different numbers. Try 70,000 Euro for example and Stg. equivalent for a starter.

  • Zeno

    lol Robin so it does but I didn’t say highest tax rate……….. I said HIGHER
    That’s funnier eh? lolololol

    Our highest tax rate is called the Additional Rate for people earning more than 150k.

  • Zeno

    Get someone who understands what I was comparing and then come back and apologise.

  • Zeno

    Here read this. It will save me the trouble of explaining it….

    http://blogs.ft.com/ftdata/2015/05/13/ireland-is-the-wealthiest-economy-in-europe-or-not/

  • Gingray

    Zeno, explain why you compared the maximum band in the south to the middle UK band? Why did you add in the extras to the south, but forget national insurance in the UK?

  • Gingray

    Zeno, why do you keep changing your numbers?

  • 23×7

    Not true. I’m aware of many who have set up businesses with very little problems. What is “the public service”?

  • Robin Keogh

    Ya and we dont have that. Our ceiling is 40%

  • Robin Keogh

    So calculate the tax take for those in top 15% earning bracket?

  • Zeno

    Yeah we’re more socialist, we tax the rich.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Robin,

    This is very silly. the south’s 40% rate kicks in comparatively early. In the UK relatively few pay the 40% rate and even fewer pay 45%.

  • Croiteir

    Doubt it very, very much – they have no choice for refusal would lead to mayhem.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    yet ignored national insurance in north

    He also ignored VHI or private health insurance payments. Sure, strictly speaking those are voluntary. But a UK taxpayer has free access to medical care (and in NI has free prescriptions); an Irish taxpayer does not.

  • Croiteir

    I appreciate your argument

  • Zeno

    Hope you understand it better now Robin?

  • Robin Keogh

    The question was who has the higher tax rate. The answer is you guys.

  • Robin Keogh

    I have it, now where were we?

  • Gingray

    Still failing to explain all your “errors”.

    No other poster on Slugger has edited as many posts as you.

    I wonder why …

  • Gingray

    Earlier you said said our top tax band was lower? Make up your mind sweet cheeks

  • Hugh Davison

    As stated above, the Irish system is developing in the direction of the NHS, with primary care gradually being extended. Hospital care has always been free with the option to jump the Q for private insurance, as in the UK.
    Meanwhile your UK government is busy gutting what remains of the NHS

  • Croiteir

    FF are not much better – they had their Ard Fheis last April yet there northern representative only made it into the northern committee this week! How much are you willing to bet that it has yet to meet or that was its first meeting?

    Briege Mac Oscar
    ‏@BriegeMacOscar

    Nov 5
    Delighted to have been appointed to Fianna Fail’s Northern Committee and Organisation Committee at last night’s Ard Chomhairle meeting!

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Having said that, sometimes when one observes the farce on the hill a United Ireland does seem more appealling.

  • Reader

    Robin Keogh: So calculate the tax take for those in top 15% earning bracket?
    Why not – Gingray is keen to look at the top 2%, if the UK 45% tax rate is deemed to be relevant.

  • Devil Eire

    Far too late for that, I’m afraid.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Sinn Féin get elected in West Belfast because they serve the communities that elect them. Rivals have to win the vote from the voters of West Belfast by offering something that is better and more relevant to them.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think it might be rich to say Sinn Féin are alone in only being able to provide the “panem et circenses” for West Belfast, when there is a growing resentment of politicians in general being either politically impotent or incompetent. Direct Rule era/Troubles era local politicians here were mainly rhetorical, now it is about state intervention or freeing up private enterprise. One reason West Belfast Sinn Féin are relatively successful is that members were probably born in relative poor conditions and worked their way out of them through the political process, as was the case of SDLP members in Foyle during the Civil Rights era.

    Their MP Paul Maskey is an entrepreneur in his own right.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Pearce is perhaps one of the Shinners I respect, but being put on the spot and indeed Hanna being put on the spot to sell a non-corporeal state unity that does not exist yet.

    Pearce himself comes from a technical engineering background so he is going to trot about issues such as duplication of services, and currency, tax regimes and government logistics rather than go into the more social aspects such as diplomatic, legal or economic convergences. If say an engineer from a Unionist like Basil McCrea was asked to sell the Union, I’d imagine his argument would be equally boring.

    Hanna did repeat a few of these arguments, but it probably was the first time she was even asked to make them on TV and being asked to sell Mervyn Storey a United Ireland, deflects from the plurality the debate has to have.

    Unity can’t simply be sold on the ease of doing business and for a lot of companies it is easier to do business in the Republic than in Northern Ireland. Similarly I would say the risk of losing the Subvention and public sector jobs, both of which are going to decline anyway is not going to to sell the Union in the long term either.

    There are a lot of challenges that have to be faced anyway, being in one state or another isn’t going to make a challenge go away.

    The straightforward case was made by an audience member:

    “Unionism and Northern Ireland can have a much greater say in a country where it is a bigger share of the population”

    Not very romantic, not very detailed, not very philosophical, social scientific or even practical … but it is objective and impartial. It’s simple to understand and straight to the point.

    That was the Home Rule argument, the Independence argument, the Land League Argument, the pro-devolution argument.

    Yes there are counter arguments about being the Union around being in a much larger economy, but that is one with “thirty three Northern Ireland sized populations” parts all physically connected to one another more or less and another one separated that maintains a cultural-political connection but in the most part is economically indistinguishable from parts of the Republic of Ireland anyway.

    Mainstream political unionism obsessions about Flags and Orange Order or indeed oppositions to the GAA or Irish language are not making the place as British as Finchley. I can’t be sure entirely but I’m fairly sure Finchley doesn’t have Flags on every lamppost and Orangemen walking down the streets.

    There are question unionism has to ask about what is going to strengthen Northern Ireland’s place in the union, is it really any more connected to Britain than Ireland or Dublin? Yes there is a disproportionate number of Ulstermen and Ulsterwomen in the Defense services but what does that mean to the rest of civil society?

    Northern Ireland could move from being a thirty fourth to a fiftieth of the United Kingdom in twenty years, Ireland at pre-Famine levels of the Union with Britain was a fifth of the United Kingdom.

    There are going to be difficulties in Irish unity, but there will be difficulties in the status quo of remaining within the Union too. The constitutional debate comes down to a collective cost-benefit choice made by the people here.

    Options like Irish Unity, a Federal Ireland and even Independence may become a bigger question if the region becomes more marginalized.

    Nolan wanted a sales pitch, if someone tailored the argument to his individuality, through a joke saying Well the Nolan Show-Prime Time Show concept itself could go weekly he himself might have “taken the soup” in all good humour.

    On the complex issue such as Irish Unity, Europe, even the Good Friday Agreement … a pitch isn’t enough, you need a manifesto, a campaign, a white paper.

  • Roger

    I don’t know the brackets. Like I said you could pick any numbers you like.