There has been much recent discussion about a border poll & the “inevitable” move towards a United Ireland yet there has been scant detail.
Nationalist politicians have cited the economic benefits of an all island economy but looking at the lastest statistics from the Department for the Economy I find that 86% of all Northern Ireland sales are with Northern Ireland & Great Britain.
If we exclude internal Northern Ireland trade we find that sales to the rest of the UK are significantly greater than sales to the Republic, the other EU 26 and the rest of the world combined (which makes a mockery of claims that Northern Ireland is wholly dependent on trade with the EU).
The economic argument for an all-island economy involves the reduction of “parallel structures”.
Referring back to the often cited 2015 Friends of Sinn Fein funded United Ireland report by Canadian consultancy firm KLC and University of British Columbia academics I can`t help but note that such a merging of structuresD would necessitate spending cuts in Northern Ireland and implies job losses and the movement of jobs to Dublin.
Another point made in the report was that adopting the Euro would boost Northern Ireland exports due to the high value of the pound. The recent Brexit vote and weaker pound have indeed helped to boost exports and tourism and indeed trade in border towns. The one point not addressed here is what the cost of transitioning to the Euro would be?
There are hundreds of questions for Nationalists to address before they can put a case for Northern Ireland seceding from the Union with the UK to join with the Republic of Ireland under the rule of unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.
What happens to the NHS – will we see GP & presciption charges? (€40-€65 to see your doctor in the Republic)
What of EU inspired water and bin charges based on usage/weight?
Would a United Ireland be a unitary State or would there still be a devolved Stormont?
What happens to Northern Irish civil servants, firemen, police officers etc?
What happens on pensions and benefits?
What about the subvention Northern Ireland receives – could the South afford it?
Will the Union flag be hoisted alongside the Tri Colour on the Dail in the name of parity and equality?
Will we get a new agreed all-Ireland flag?
Will we get a new agreed all-Ireland National Anthem?
Will we be entitled to dual British & Irish citizenship and passports?
What happens to the cross-border bodies?
Will mandatory powersharing be implemented in the Dail with D`Hondt?
Will their be an all-Ireland parades commission?
Of course this all depends on their being a majority in Northern Ireland voting in favour of a United Ireland. Despite the media scrum around the Sinn Fein election result – the real story is the increase in the Lib Dem aligned Alliance Party vote.
However the key to retaining the Union was and will be small “u” unionists and those comfortable with the constitutional status quo – a demographic that continues to increase and now hold the balance of power in the Assembly like they do on Belfast City council. Convincing them of the merits of breaking the Union may be harder than Nationalists would like to think.
Indeed many of the arguments of the Scottish Independence referendum will resonate here