A United Ireland is not inevitable – here is why

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.

KCL United Ireland report

However despite press releases supporting this document, Sinn Fein largely undermine this argument for cost savings by proposing a confederal arrangement with a Northern Ireland Assembly.

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.

Nationalists achieved 42% of the vote in 2007 and a low of 36% last year which bounced back to 39% this month and no doubt we will see a drive towards Unionist Unity as a result.

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

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  • Ciaran O’Neill

    Lies. Pure and simple. The last poll indicated almost 96% of those from a catholic background favour reunification. Try again

  • grumpy oul man

    The majority of the majority.
    The DUP slogan when campaigning against it.

  • grumpy oul man

    See above. Buy history boo

  • the keep

    You complain about lies and then proceed to lie yourself.

  • Fear Éireannach

    The IRA ceasefire was 23 years ago. The present state of the NI economy is not down to the IRA, but the management in between, just as the West German economy in 1968 was not primarily a product of the war.

  • the keep

    Did SF bring down Stormont yes or no will suffice.I am sure you will condemn the Sf minister who withdrew funding from bands or is just the nasty unionists who are bigots.

  • Annie Breensson

    replied to wrong poster

  • Kevin Breslin

    What of EU inspired water and bin charges based on usage/weight?

    Are we to expect the post-Brexit UK to do away with these charges?

    The UK spends more on waste management than it does on Northern Ireland!

  • Annie Breensson

    “A Protestant state for a Protestant people”

    What more evidence do you want?

  • Kevin Breslin

    The UK can’t have any square kilometer of its empire back without slaughtering loads of its own and loads of foreigners in the process.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I was looking at the message more than the messenger on that post – but Alan can make a unionist case perfectly well, even if I don’t always agree with his views

  • Keith

    As you probably appreciate that is not evidence. The DUP were not objective. They had a clear vested interest in arguing that most unionists did not vote in favour of the agreement. Objective commentators did not concur.

  • Brendan Heading

    You’ve missed my point, which needs to be understood in context.

    The original poster was asking why the cross-community consensus model did not apply for border referenda. The point is that it cannot. If you vote for a united Ireland, you are self-evidently not a unionist. Therefore, irrespective of what the result of the referendum actually is, 100% of all unionists will have voted “no”.

    the other aspect of what you are saying is a matter of opinion. Since the union is the status quo and – up until recently – was arguably working reasonably well, it’s quite reasonable to be a nationalist who supports reunification in the long term but would vote against it in the short term. There is no corrollary to this on the unionist side of the argument, since the union is the status quo, how could a person who supports the union vote against it in a referendum ?

  • britbob

    Wrong. The UNESCO international conference of experts held in Barcelona in 1998 clarified the right to self-determination and stated, ‘from the indigenous perspective the term ‘’indigenous peoples’’ has no intrinsic meaning. It is just a technical term which allows a number of people to participate, albeit in a limited way, in internal discussions affecting their situation.’ Professor Erica-Irene A. Danes, the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the United Nations working Group on Indigenous Populations is not persuaded that ‘’there is any distinction between ‘’indigenous’’ peoples and ‘’peoples’’ generally, other than the fact that the group typically identified as ‘’indigenous’’ have been unable to exercise the right to self-determination.’’ (International Conference of Experts, UNESCO, Barcelona, ‘ on the Implementation of the Right to Self-Determination as a Contribution to Conflict Prevention, 21-27 Nov 1998, p12).

  • Barney

    No it’s not wrong, you simply posted an individuals opinion which has no weight in international law.

    Clearly Britain places a lot of faith in the indigenous argument as it has used it in the past and continues to use it today. Lots of people say lots of things in conferences but unless their opinions are incorporated into international law their statements remain opinion. This is why Britain has refused to discuss the issue.

    The problem is that the 4th Geneva convention is part of international law and it prohibits stuffing occupied land with settlers.

    The people on those islands do not have an automatic right to self determination.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You are being both rude and disingenuous in claiming I never produce a shred of evidence. I was giving you a way out by laughing it off. If you choose to continue digging your hole, that’s your call. If you want me to cite posts in which I refer extensively to data as evidence, I can do so.

  • The Irishman

    I never said you never produce a shred of evidence. But many many times when asked to do so, you do not. So I stand by what I posted.

  • The Irishman

    So when challenged to provide evidence, you tell me not to read it…

  • mickfealty

    Try reading the comments policy Michael (oh, and welcome).

  • grumpy oul man

    Yep sure .when did the DUP become the biggest party. After what?

  • Michael Dowds

    Thanks for the welcome Mick.

    I’m not sure where I fell afoul of the comments policy other than (possibly) the use of the word ‘guff’.

    The post was a rehash of ‘UK good, united Ireland bad’ argument without any context to explain why that’s a conversation worth having… again.

    That being said, its your site so I’ll take it as a yellow card.

  • Obelisk

    What it has always been. Keep it at a distance, bung it just enough money that the place doesn’t implode and ensure that worldwide, when people think of the United Kingdom, they think of the big island and not the weird little Kaliningrad-esque exclave on the island of Ireland they are too embarrassed to talk about.

    That’s the real insult of Unionism. That they would settle for being treated like a hideous growth on the glorious body of the United Kingdom, that they would put up with endless stagnation and mediocrity for the privilege of being looked at as weirdos by the people they are in a Union with, all to wave a flag.

  • grumpy oul man

    Yes or no wont suffice.
    Wouldn’t it be great if history worked like that.
    MU does that sort of history pretending that all actions by unionists have no effect and the actions of nationlist have no cause.
    Arlene and her arrogance brought down the assembly.

  • Obelisk

    Unionism 50 years ago: We cannot go into a United Ireland, we are too rich and prosperous for that poor, backwards nation to ever make it work.

    Unionism Today: We cannot go into a United Ireland. We are too poor and backwards for that rich, prosperous nation to want to risk their stability in trying to absorb us.

    It’s amazing how Unionists are trying to make radically different circumstances on the economy work for them all the same…but this wallowing in the poor state of our economy as some sort of shield against unity and which some Unionists (like IPJ) have indulged in, should illuminate the core problems of the ideology.

  • Obelisk

    Just saw this. ‘A majority of each community should assent. If the law doesn’t state this then it should.’

    You have go to be kidding.

    As the conditions finally shift, trending towards a scenario where we can finally, PEACEFULLY, dissolve Northern Ireland, you want to change the goalposts?

    I can’t say much to that except, No. Not a chance. Nope. Never. Nuh-uh.

    If we get 50%+1, even if the majority of Unionists vote against, Northern Ireland ends. That is all there is too it. And as it’s already in the GFA and Nationalists will never assent to giving Unionists a permanent veto…well you should really stow this flight of fancy. This ain’t happening.

  • Keith

    Not immediately after the GFA referendum. If I recall correctly the UUP were the largest party. You have not been able to substantiate your claim that most unionists were and are anti-agreement.

  • Keith

    Not immediately after the GFA. The OUP were the largest party in the first assembly. You have not substantiated your claim that unionists did not and do not support the GFA.

    At the time, objective analysts reckoned that about 60% of unionists must have voted to support the Agreement. I suspect it’s higher than that now, but I don’t have any evidence, unless you count the lack of support for the TUV.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    producing evidence takes time – I’d like to always have it to hand, but I have to choose my moments depending on how much time I have and where I am. The fact I don’t cite chapter and verse every time does not somehow prove I’m wrong.

  • Enda

    ‘Will the Union flag be hoisted alongside the Tri Colour on the Dail in the name of parity and equality’

    Why would it be? The Tri colour isn’t hoisted alongside the Union flag at Stormont, in the name of parity and equality.

  • Tochais Siorai

    That’s like saying Rangers are the second best team in Scotland!

  • Enda

    I’d reckon that there are plenty of nordies that would vote for FF, FG et al given the chance to.

    ‘but it seems now we are going to have to pick up the mess left behind by the British’

    Sure it wouldn’t be the first time.

  • Enda

    As slaves.

  • Tochais Siorai

    ‘Lies’ ??? You’re a bit handy at throwing around the insults, SR in what was a reasonably civilised discussion.

    The definition of ‘private’ is certainly open to interpretation. If you have a medical card or GP visit card then it’s paid for by the state, if you don’t then you pay. You may disagree with such an interpretation but calling it a ‘lie’ is just pure bad manners.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I will have agree with you halfway there, facts and figures were used by the pro-UK Remain campaign in the Brexit debate. Many people voted for the European Union to save the United Kingdom Union. And I feel they were wise to do so.

    Lies and fantasies drove the Leave campaign which still to this very day is all over the place.

    I get that the majority of Northern Ireland want the status quo, but they voted Remain because they were smart enough to realize that Brexit is going to take all of that away. It’s not going to be some sort of marketized laser surgery of removing the bad parts and keeping the good parts, where everything magically comes up smelling of Tudor Roses, no matter what kind of horse manure is used to fertilize the crop.

    Already a lot of the status quo is gone … strong currency, low inflation, stronger borrowing position … snap your fingers gone before the official departure. Promise of extra money is just a promise of devalued extra coinage that doesn’t aid the supply to public sector demands. English nationalists are eyeing up the Northern Irish subsidy too, and to be honest what’s really keeping it from being feed to the wolves right now if there’s no money elsewhere?

    It’s not helped when Brexiteer evangelists like Jeff Peel Northern Ireland boast about how fantastic Northern Ireland could be when it’s interned within a single nation market.

    So while Irish unity will be realistically difficult, so will Northern Ireland in this Brexit scenario. I know which risk that I would rather take, the one for Irish unity.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Try reading the link. I’m just quoting from the article and the associated link. Take it up with the authors. You seem a trifle exited by all this – maybe you should change your name?

  • grumpy oul man

    But you fail to mention that they were deeply involved in slavery. Ireland was part of the empire but most of the irish involvement in the slave trade was as slaves.
    Seen any Tasmanian natives lately.
    The crimes of the British Empire would fill a libary.

  • britbob

    Wrong. Fourth Geneva Convention – Article 49, Para 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 is the legislation that refers to Implanted Populations. Article 2 regarding the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention states, ‘In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peacetime, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or any other armed conflict’ and article 153 ‘coming into force’ – the present Convention shall come into force six months after ratification (21 October 1950). In reference to the treaty application, the ICJ Ambatielos judgment dealt with retroactive effects of treaties and stated, ‘all provisions of the Treaty shall come into force immediately upon ratification. Such a conclusion might have been rebutted if there had been any special clause or any special object necessitating retroactive interpretation. There is no such clause or object in the present case. It is therefore impossible to hold that any of its provisions must be deemed to have been in force earlier.’ (ICJ Ambatielos Case, Greece v UK Judgment, 1 July 1952, p40).
    Case Law – The ICJ Construction of a Wall in Occupied Palestinian territory Advisory Opinion is often referred to and gives reference to the Fourth Geneva Convention. In the judgment the ICJ stated, ‘Article 49, paragraph 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention is relevant which provides: ’The occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territory it occupies.’ And ‘that provision prohibits not only deportations or forced transfers of populations such as those carried out during the Second World War, but also any measures taken by an occupying Power in order to organize or encourage transfers of parts of its own population into the occupied territory. ‘ Then continues ’The Security Council has taken the view that such policy and practices have no legal validity.’’( ICJ Construction of a Wall in Palestinian Territory Advisory Opinion, 9 July 2004, p183, para 120). Historical Context – In respect of the Falkland Islands, in 1833, only the garrison was asked to leave while the majority of settlers were encourage to and did stay. Only 4 settlers decided to leave the settlement which was on the verge of collapse.(Getting it Right, the Real History of the Falklands/Malvinas, Pascoe & Pepper, 2008, p19). It is also worth noting that in 1833, when the British returned to the Islands to eject an Argentine garrison, Argentina was 1,000 miles from the Falkland Islands; now because of ‘territorial conquests’ namely the seizure of Patagonia in 1878, it is 300 miles away.(The Argentine Frontier: the Conquest of the Desert, 1878, 1879, Perry, R.O. 1972). Opinion – Denying the right of self-determination to ‘transplanted’ populations would prove unworkable. In principle a group that settles in terra nullius and later colonizes should be entitled to the right to self-determination upon decolonization. Furthermore, if the inhabitants of a colony were a mix of ‘transplanted’ peoples who had coexisted harmoniously and intermarried over several centuries, would the right to self-determination be denied to this population? Argentina’s view erroneously presumes that ‘people’ are both ethically cohesive and non-migratory. (Third World Attitudes Towards International Law, An Introduction, Snyder F.E. & Sathirathai, S., Martinus Nijhoff 1987, p116 , quoting Frank & Hoffman, supra note 8 at 384).
    Conclusion – The UN believes self-determination applies to ‘implanted populations’ based on the Caribbean territories on the list of non-self-governing territories such as Anguilla where 90% of the population is descended from the Atlantic slave trade. Similarly, the British Virgin Islands, the American Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos all have large black populations. The UN clearly believes that these territories have the right to self-determination as it did with the numerous Caribbean nations that achieved independence after WW2.

  • Devil Éire

    You forgot about the railways.

    From Shashi Tharoor, writing in the Guardian:

    The construction of the Indian Railways is often pointed to by apologists for empire as one of the ways in which British colonialism benefited the subcontinent, ignoring the obvious fact that many countries also built railways without having to go to the trouble and expense of being colonised to do so. But the facts are even more damning.

    The railways were first conceived of by the East India Company, like everything else in that firm’s calculations, for its own benefit. Governor General Lord Hardinge argued in 1843 that the railways would be beneficial “to the commerce, government and military control of the country”. In their very conception and construction, the Indian railways were a colonial scam. British shareholders made absurd amounts of money by investing in the railways, where the government guaranteed returns double those of government stocks, paid entirely from Indian, and not British, taxes. It was a splendid racket for Britons, at the expense of the Indian taxpayer.

    The railways were intended principally to transport extracted resources – coal, iron ore, cotton and so on – to ports for the British to ship home to use in their factories. The movement of people was incidental, except when it served colonial interests; and the third-class compartments, with their wooden benches and total absence of amenities, into which Indians were herded, attracted horrified comment even at the time.

    And, of course, racism reigned; though whites-only compartments were soon done away with on grounds of economic viability, Indians found the available affordable space grossly inadequate for their numbers…

    Nor were Indians employed in the railways. The prevailing view was that the railways would have to be staffed almost exclusively by Europeans to “protect investments”. This was especially true of signalmen, and those who operated and repaired the steam trains, but the policy was extended to the absurd level that even in the early 20th century all the key employees, from directors of the Railway Board to ticket-collectors, were white men – whose salaries and benefits were also paid at European, not Indian, levels and largely repatriated back to England.

    You see, it wasn’t such a jolly Raj for the natives after all.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Well the problem with tit for tat is that it could only come to an end when there were no Unionists left in Northern Ireland, or Irish in Britain. That would be unnecessarily disruptive.

    As I see it, what will happen is that after reunification the Irish authorities will say, look here nice British people, because your massive subvention has been withdrawn, we have had to lay off Sammy and Willy and Kyle. Is there any chance you could find a vacancy for them in your Civil Service at all at all?

    And they will come back with: “Sorry, Paddy, no can do. While we have made savings on the subvention, we have incurred massive losses due to the fact that Northern Ireland is no longer buying British paperclips/school uniforms/Belisha beacons and instead is ordering inferior Fenianised versions from Dublin and Drogheda. It’s swings and roundabouts. I’m as poor a man as you and as a matter of fact, I was thinking of asking you for a lob to get me home”.

    So the Irish say: “I’m sorry for your troubles man but thanks for the tip. We’ll send Sammy down to paperclips, Willy to school uniforms and Kyle to Belisha beacons. That’s them sorted.”

    Because as Fritz Schumacher said, no capital city ever really subsidises its peripheries. It may arrange things, so it looks like it’s doing so, but really it’s sucking in money from them all the time.

  • grumpy oul man

    So your saying that you make these claims then search for evidence later.
    Explains a lot!