Report examining Brexit and a United Ireland launched

The Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement launched a report today entitled  Brexit and the Future of Ireland Uniting Ireland & Its People in Peace & Prosperity. 

The report examines issues around Brexit and the a United Ireland and is a lengthy document.

Here are some of the key recommendations from the committee;

On Brexit

The Irish government must negotiate for Northern Ireland to be
designated with special status within the EU and for the whole island
of Ireland to have a unique solution as part of the Brexit negotiation.

Any passport controls between Ireland and the UK should be along the
same basis as for people traveling between these islands from 1939 to
1952. There should not be a return to passport controls on the borders
between the North and South of Ireland.

It is recognised that World Trade Organisation rules and a hard border
would have a detrimental impact on Ireland North and South & Further
impact assessment is required on the economic impact of reunification

On Irish unity;

The establishment of a New Ireland Forum 2 is recommended to set a
pathway to achieve the peaceful reunification of Ireland.

Establish an international task force with experts in security so that plans to
meet any risks may be devised and implemented.

Fears and concerns of the Unionist community need to be examined,
understood and addressed comprehensively by all stakeholders in advance
of any referendum.

The legacy issues in society outlined by Senator Frances Black and the
inter- generational impact of the troubles in terms of mental health
consequences and substance abuse needs to be addressed.

The Government needs to carry out an audit in relation to the
legal and constitutional changes pre and post-unification.

There are some interesting recommendations in the report and hopefully this goes some way towards starting further initiatives on this topic. One of the authors of the report is Senator Mark Daly who in today’s Irish Independent noted the following;

We need to start a discussion on the issues surrounding unifying Ireland. A New Ireland Forum 2 is required, made up of experts on all the issues. We should ask our European colleagues, the Germans, what their experience was, what they would do differently if they had to do unification all over again.

The challenge for the Republic is great; we need to create a society and a country where we improve the lives of all those living on this island. We must talk about, and work towards, creating a new society, not as it is today but how we want it to be in the future. We must strive to make a better country for all the people on this island.

One thing I really liked about the Senators approach is that it takes us away from the logic that (I would ban this statement if I could) that a united Ireland is inevitable and that all those who want change need to do is sit out the clock. The fact is more work needs to be done and the gaps in knowledge highlighted by this report need to be addressed. We need to have not just the facts, but a narrative for why this needs to happen and why people should take the punt on a different arrangement. Nothing is inevitable in politics and those who simply say that this will come ignore the fact that change only happens when people work for it and have a clear alternative. Inevitably encourages laziness and getting people to engage in no new thinking or debates. This debate have to be conducted everywhere and seen as an attempt to build the biggest, broadest tent possible.

We must prove that what Anatole France once said was true;

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.” 

, , , , , , ,

  • Skibo

    “Likewise, no one has tried to convince anyone on the Unionist side that a UI would be a good thing. Until that starts, these releases will be ignored by unionists”
    The issue of trying to convince Unionists about how good a UI would be is they are not prepared to listen.
    Every time that anyone tries to mention a UI, Unionist politicians condemn it as sectarian. The reaction to this proposal is synonymous of that along with the issue that Unionist politicians did not take part in it.
    It is equally noticeable on Slugger, when the question of how to achieve reunification and what a New Ireland would look like, the Unionist posters here will not connect fully to see what would be acceptable and what would not.

  • Reader

    LighterSide: would you acquiesce to the wishes of the majority and live peacefully in the new arrangement, or would you support some further re-drawing of borders to make a smaller pro-union statelet-let?
    I would acquiesce(*) and live peacefully, based on my perfectly reasonable assumption that I would still be living in a modern western state.
    Other parties in the area could mess things up; and also I would be slightly more likely to consider emigration than I do now.
    * On acquiescence – I wouldn’t stop being a unionist. Living peacefully wouldn’t stop me being a unionist any more than living peacefully has ever stopped someone from being a nationalist. And accepting the Principle of Consent has never stopped someone from being a nationalist.

  • Skibo

    We should refrain from saying a United Ireland is inevitable and say that it is more achievable with time. We cannot sit back and wait for it to happen. The longer it takes the greater the pain as the North will continue to fall further and further behind the rest of Ireland.

  • Reader

    the Saint: …unionism could now still use its relative strength to negotiate from a much stronger position.
    Negotiate with what? We can’t offer our votes, we will continue to vote for the union.
    Negotiate for what? Anything agreed could be overturned by the Dail 5 years down the line. At best, it could go into the constitution, but it could still be overturned.

  • Skibo

    What changed the economic growth of Ireland was looking past the UK and into Europe and the rest of the world. That can be linked with Ireland entering the EU. At that stage Ireland exported 55% to the UK, before Brexit it was around 16%.
    If the North is to expand it’s economy, it has to look past the UK also.

  • Reader

    The Saint: …but I feel that particular change is most stark and most relevant to this debate.
    The most important change surely was that Dissenters shifted from alliance with Catholics to Alliance with Protestants soon after the United Irishmen uprising. And for good reason, too.

  • LighterSide…

    That’s what I figured. I hope that when it comes time to vote, most people will have your attitude. You have your preference and make no bones about it, but if the other side is in the majority, it’s not the end of the world.

  • Zeno

    Are these soft nationalists the ones who would describe themselves as Irish or the ones that describe themselves as Nationalist or the ones who vote nationalist because all of those are under 30% of the population over 18 here?
    What I’m really asking is who are they? And where are they?

  • Zeno

    Last time we had this conversation you didn’t reply.

    You predicted a Nationalist majority by 2022 if I remember correctly and when I asked how a 60,000 majority was going to be overcome in 5 years when the catch up rate over the last 20 years has been 1000 a year on average, you left.

  • maloneranger

    There are a few things on this. I agree that unionists are usually not prepared to listen. Some of this is down to the context of the issue- for example, like this one. I have never seen, here or anywhere else, an article advocating along the lines of ‘why a UI is a good idea’. That’s of course a v diff question from ‘how can we get a UI?’ It’s as if people come to these questions having already conceded that persuasion is not possible, that stalls have been set out and that’s that.

    The fact that a genuine attempt to convince will not be (mostly) well-received does not make the attempt to convince for a UI unnecessary. It just highlights the difficulty of that necessary thing, without which the paper under discussion will not only fall flat but be actively unhelpful to matters in NI.

    Of course, exactly the same points around convincing nationalists of the benefits of the UK could and should be made by unionists. But those efforts have been derisory.

  • maloneranger

    This is a different point you are going down. The analogy I am making is that you can imagine just how annoyed people in ROI would be if a British politician made those comments on or off record. I think everyone can imagine that, and the reason would be that someone in another country is planning how to get one back into that country. I’m suggesting that’s how unionists feel when they hear of reports like this, and also, that it’s very unhelpful at the moment.

    Not that you have to agree with that of course, but there you are.

  • maloneranger

    Both your first sentence, which suggests you didn’t read properly what I wrote, and your second sentence, proves my point Geordie!

  • Reader

    The Saint: I don’t think so sure unionists still use the illegal Ulster banner even the IFA do heavens above.
    There is a cautionary saying about national politics – “you know you are living in a repressive state when everything that is not forbidden is compulsory.”
    Fortunately we don’t live in that sort of state.
    You think that because the Stormont Banner does not have legal status it is therefore “illegal”? Wrong.

  • The Saint

    I’m happy to accept its not prohibited, but it is certainty offensive and exclusive to many. I’m trying to get a handle on this new NI proposed by Toye.

  • Skibo

    In 1910 GE, the IPP won the majority of seats in Ireland and were pushing for home rule. WW1 and the Unionist plans to split the country rapidly reduced the strength of the IPP and within 8 years Sinn Fein went from zero to 73% of the seats in Ireland.
    Change happens rapidly and Brexit will be the game changer.

  • Skibo

    YOU DON’T SUPPORT UNIONISM?
    What do you support then? Or is it just a case of you support anyone who does not support Sinn Fein?

  • Skibo

    Unionists do not have the deeds of the North. They are held in Westminster and if they are a useful negotiating ploy in Brexit, they will be on the table.

  • Skibo

    Said the captain on the Titanic!

  • Skibo

    You had a chance of a new NI with the GFA and Stormont but Unionism did not believe in equality or parity of esteem. They believe everyone is equally British and if you want to be Irish, head south. Hardly the recipe for a new NI.

  • Skibo

    You know you are in Northern Ireland when the law is policed as long as it does not offend Unionist culture. If it does, it is ignored or accused of being sectarian.

  • Skibo

    Some Unionist politicians and some posters on here have made that very claim for Ireland to leave the EU and rejoin the UK.

  • Zeno

    I don’t support any of them.

  • Skibo

    Some reading for you.
    https://www.sinnfein.ie/files/2016/Towards-a-United-Ireland.pdf
    Do not just reject it due to the Sinn Fein heading. Read it with an open mind.

  • Skibo

    Again you are mixing two things up. Read the post above. I refer to the Nationalist electorate achieving parity in 2022.
    What you refer to is the Nationalist voting record.
    Sinn Fein increased their votes by nearly 60,000 in one year 2016 to 17.

  • Skibo

    What are you then, an extra terrestrial?
    I must say for an extra terrestrial, you have some very Unionist views.

  • Georgie Best

    China is one of the world’s biggest economies. Does this mean that NI would be safer with China?

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    No knee-jerk from this quarter – merely pointing out that his/her example wasn’t “analogous”.

    I read the whole post and the point I’m making is that I believe Nationalists do appreciate and understand what the typical Unionist response to such an invitation would be. At the very least, I can appreciate the feelings aroused by such an invitation to such a body: it would be like a cocktail of hot-blooded frustration, pain and anxiety. It would be felt like an attack on identity, family and culture. It would feel downright insulting. Accepting such an invitation would feel like a letting down of the guard and a surrendering of an identity. At least, it would feel all these things if I allowed it to do so.

    How do I know this? Well, as I pointed out, these are feelings Nationalists in the North are well used to and I tried to illustrate this by highlighting a situation that is analogous.

    I get the pain and sense of insult. How do you think Nationalists feel when a member of our community sits in the UK Houses of Parliament? How do you think we feel when members of our community are awarded OBEs, MBEs and every other bauble of the UK honours system? I’m not quite sure Unionism grasps the willingness to be flexible, the willingness to show good grace such actions take – not just by individuals but the communities also, to which they belong. You don’t think there is a tinge of pain and a sense of surrendering one’s culture when, to make some kind of political progress, you sit in the British Parliament and swear an oath to their head of state? You don’t think there are pricks of self-doubt and embarrassment for someone of Nationalist stock (and their community) when they are shunted into the spotlight and invited to receive the Order of The British Empire?

    Branches of Nationalism have been reaching out and doing such things for so long that it seems to have been taken for granted. There is the assumption that doing such things does not cause huge frustration and pain. The point is Nationalism, in general, has chosen not to allow such things to be regarded as insults to their identity.

    All that movers and shakers in Dublin are asking for is attendance to a body that is looking at visions and projections for the future of this island. Dublin is not asking for Unionist politicians to come down and swear allegiance to the President. Dublin is not asking Unionist politicians to become Irish. In the times that we live, surely such gatherings are sensible and forward-thinking? I was reading earlier that Census analysis is predicting a Catholic majority in the North by 2030. Is that not worth discussing and planning for?

    It doesn’t mean Ireland has to be “re-united” in a way that would destroy Unionist identity. There are new options and political models to be created and explored – this is why it is essential, in my view, for forward-thinking Unionist thinkers to come along and share.

  • Reader

    Georgie Best: and put an Indian in charge
    He’s Irish, not Indian. Check the “Taoiseachs’ Gestures” thread for a full explanation of the matter from your fellow nationalists.

  • Reader

    Skibo: You know you are in Northern Ireland when the law is policed as long as it does not offend Unionist culture. If it does, it is ignored or accused of being sectarian.
    The law is in the hands of the courts, not the police. Tiochfadh Armani surely still have some lawyers that would help you with a private prosecution, if you could convince them that the Stormont Banner was actually illegal. You could even escalate it to the UK Supreme Court, which has a habit of giving the government a kicking.

  • Georgie Best

    Of course he is Irish, but is an Irish not only exposed to Irish culture.
    It seems that some people believe a person whose grandfather 8 times removed came from England cannot fit in (and doesn’t need to try) whereas one whose father came from India can.

  • Skibo

    Being the safest economy and being the best economic plan for Northern Ireland is two different things.
    Should we be looking for unification with Germany as they are a more powerful economy that the UK?
    Ireland has the template for a progressive economy within the EU. It is working. They have a far higher standard of living than us.

  • Skibo

    The simplest example is the way the police stood back and watched the issue of Flegs parades or the attitude of OO to the parades commission or indeed the issue of bonfires in themselves or the burning of posters on them.

  • 05OCT68

    It’s as valid a position & no more or less precarious than those that stepped into the political,economic and geographical unknown that is Brexit. Those same people that are on here daily defending Brexit (don’t worry everything will be alright) despite the mounting political, economic & geographical problems, problems I might add have put discussion of unification to the fore. So Jeff I thought I’ll try a bit of blind faith myself & I expect you to challenge the faithful on here that will not countenance unification no matter what economic,political or geographical advantages advanced.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Also looked at the recent election result figures and also come up with the same calculation as your figures and sums Zeno ! Maybe the maths teachers out there just do not want to mark us correct ? The June Election results certainly kicked this Border Poll Nonsense Talk into the touchline !

  • T.E.Lawrence

    One might say Alliance are closer to SF with their voting record in Belfast City Council ? Even the Greens kept well away from that recent SF Bonfire Motion at BCC on Wednesday night for the correct reason the safety and protection of its council workers which SF, SDLP, Alliance did not give one fiddlers or consideration about !

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    Any perceived threat to a person’s national and cultural identity will put people on edge, that’s for sure. In the example you put forward (and vice versa), of course, there would be annoyance. I understand those feelings.

  • T.E.Lawrence
  • Zeno

    There is no option to unify with Germany on offer.
    Do you think if you got a UI your standard of living would rise….. or would you just end up one of these people and living in a different country?
    Poverty
    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/disposable-incomes-rise-but-8-7-remain-in-consistent-poverty-1.2959247
    Homeless
    http://www.thejournal.ie/homeless-figures-jan-2017-3205843-Jan2017/
    Healthcare
    https://www.rte.ie/news/2017/0130/848631-ireland-waiting-lists/

  • Zeno

    There is no option to unify with China. The choice is Ireland or the UK.

  • Roger

    One China policy can have a new meaning

  • Roger

    I heard Jimmy, Jason and Veronica were thinking about it alright….maybe there’s 3 votes there. Doubt many more.

  • Roger

    Trump isn’t usually called German or Scottish…
    Is his young son Slovenian?

  • LighterSide…

    Cuomo is usually called Italian or Italian-American.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    Total respect to them all. Yes, it will be quite a journey for everyone if people of all hues can be taken on board a new all-island bus. No one doubts the Britishness of the people in the video and their loyalty to the British crown should never be questioned or challenged. I wouldn’t want to be part of a future island arrangement that rode rough-shod over such fundamental beliefs and values. Would it be possible, in a new all-island arrangement, to guarantee all in the present North the continuing right to British passports/citizenship and everything else they hold dear? I think this would definitely need to be the case.

    Like I say, I have huge respect for these people. My concern is for what happens further down the line when their cultural identity represents the minority in the territory. What happens then? How will they feel? The demographic shift needs to be planned for and managed with intelligence and sensitivity or people like those bandsmen from East Belfast will feel even more marginalised than they do currently.

  • Zeno

    WOW, they are going to allow you unionists to call yourself unionists in the New Ireland.

    “The Good Friday Agreement envisages that the right
    of all of the people of Northern Ireland to Irish or British citizenship or
    both would be preserved in a united Ireland.”

    What did they think was going happen? British Citizenship banned?

  • Toye native

    You don’t have to be a royalist to feel part of the UK, half of Ni fans love to see England get beat, and the other half love to see them win ,

  • Roger

    No he isn’t. He’s usually called an American…

  • Toye native

    Unionists mostly didn’t vote for the GFA, and that was because they were letting murders out early

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “to guarantee all in the present North the continuing right to British Passports/Citizenship” I think that you would have to go further and guarantee future generations that such a right shall be also afforded to them and that right not taken away from them !
    “Their cultural identity represents the minority in the territory” One might say that the Loyalist Culture is already at that junction, however as someone who has experienced the demographic shifts in Belfast City Centre from the 60s, one thing that I have noticed about the Unionist/Loyalist culture is that it can be adaptable and resourceful to unite and survive which splinters into small tight knit working class communities that socially makes all pull together for the maintenance of their culture and identity. You can see an aspect of this in the guardian video.

  • macdanish

    You tell me, they are the people you keep referring to. Let’s just say it’s a cohort of Sinn Fein/Sdlp/Alliance/other voters that would never vote Unionist but are presently content to continue with the constitutional status quo but could be turned based on changing political and economic circumstances. The only section passionate about maintaining the union are DUP/UUP/TUV/Ind Unionist and this cohort is slowly shrinking. A growing section of the population will be open to persuasion on the constitutional question.

  • Zeno

    “Soft nationalists” is a phrase I have rarely used except to ask who they are.
    There are roughly half a million people who don’t vote Unionist OR nationalist. The evidence suggests that they are more soft unionists than soft nationalists. The reason I say that is because to maintain the status quo there is no need to vote for anyone.
    Anyone who wants change really has to go out and vote nationalist. That much is obvious, so why don’t they do that? They can’t be ignorant of that simple fact, so you would assume that they are not interested in changing the constitution.
    “changing political and economic circumstances.”
    That is a two edged sword and can cut both ways.

  • Gary Thompson

    That is always sound advice in politics regardless of the issue.

  • Zeno

    It was you who said there are only 400,000 unionists because that is the entire number who vote for unionist parties.
    The same logic must apply to Nationalists, so there are only 340,000 Nationalists.
    So once more. Tell me where this 60,000 Nationalists required to achieve parity are coming from.

  • Zeno

    The lower the better.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    Absolutely.

  • LighterSide…

    Italian-Americans are proud of their heritage and take no offence at being called Italian as well as American.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/11/nyregion/11italian.html

  • Roger

    That has noting to do with what they are usually called….

  • LighterSide…

    Okay, you’re right….

  • Zeno

    “Sinn Fein increased their votes by nearly 60,000 in one year 2016 to 17.”

    What an excellent result for SF.
    The DUP increased their vote by almost 67,000 between March and June.
    What do you think of that?

  • Zeno

    I read it, same old nonsense.
    “Unity will bring inward investment?”
    Why?

    “Amalgamating public services will save money.”
    Save money by putting people out of work.
    No thanks.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Skibo

    Unionists who are “neutral on the constitution” need to see some kind of joined up thinking come from political nationalism. Ii it not time that FF,FG ( I’m not sure that SF would be able to convince to many unionists) got their act together and seriously put an offer on the table for unionists for unionists to consider.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade
  • Toye native

    There is a very large section out there especially working class loyalists, who never vote, they are very passionate about the union, unionist parties have thousands of potential voters out there

  • Toye native

    Half a million of voters who don’t vote, your right lots would be soft unionist especially from the Catholic side,
    You should know there is tens of thousands who don’t vote and never vote, and they would be from the loyalist working class families.
    Especially young pul woman have no interest,
    There was a surge in unionist votes last time potentially there could be be many more unionist surges, they have the non voters out there,

  • Toye native

    How do you work that out, 800 thousand unionists come from Scotland and 200 thousand came from England.
    Then you have thousands of Northern nationlist who are mixed most are nationlist because they had to be brought up Catholic (mixed marriage) Catholic church and all that.
    NI people have more in common with mainland Britain than the Republic.

  • Toye native

    I see were your coming from But what I see is there is tens of thousands of pul out there who don’t vote and never voted especially working class loyalists (women).
    Republican’s have been energising the nationlist people.
    For me if unionists can energies the pul community to come out to vote as they got some in the last election out, unionists will be so far ahead of the nationlist vote.

  • Zeno

    Then just today we learn that over half of under 40’s protestants who don’t vote because of their support for SSM and Abortion reform also are in favour of the union.

  • Toye native

    Add on the 20 thousand or so votes the dup gave to Tom Elliott

  • Toye native

    Interesting, in the future when we see their is no chance of a UI, there will be two unionist camps conservative and liberal.
    Saying that NI will always probably be orange v green

  • macdanish

    Well we know the turn outs from Polling. Of course there is disinfranchised cohort on both sides that never vote. If they were passionate they would vote. Passionate about causing trouble more like. The census tells us that the future may bring a different political landscape.

  • Toye native

    The Republican propaganda around the future of the census is different from the reality

  • aquifer

    Churchill offered them before, contracts were not exchanged. Why?

  • Skibo

    When did Churchill off er them? Would that have been the same deeds he offered to Ireland for their help in WW2?
    Unionists have as much chance of having the deeds and the SNP has of having them for Scotland.

  • Reader

    Skibo: The simplest example is the way the police stood back and watched the issue of Flegs parades or the attitude of OO to the parades commission or indeed the issue of bonfires in themselves or the burning of posters on them.
    As I said, if illegal stuff has happened, then you can arrange a private prosecution with the evidence you have, or you can complain to the Police Ombudsman.
    However, you would be wasting your time if you complained about the police not performing an “attitude” adjustment on the OO, because that isn’t their job. What they have done with 100% success recently is enforce the Parades Commission rulings.
    And burning posters isn’t illegal in the way you probably think. It may count as theft or vandalism, but given the number of posters that stay up long after an election is over I don’t think the owners care too much about retaining them.

  • Skibo

    What Eoin is referring to is the ardent Republicans who do not recognise British governance of the North at all. They refuse to take part in any elections but I believe they could be convinced to vote in a border poll.

  • Devil Éire

    I’m sorry but he cannot have it both ways. If it is a fair reflection of a Unionist’s typical response, then this response deserves to be critiqued. If not, then why on earth post it in the first place?

  • Skibo

    I agree with your attitude to illegal stuff and believe it was not till the Police used the law against the flag protests that the whole issue was brought under control.
    Your impression on the attitude to the Parades commission rulings would be correct for this year but it has not always been the case. MY problem with the OO on previous parading problems was from bands who were not only breaking the parades Commission rulings but the rules set by the OO themselves. They did not show any outward sign of reprimanding bands and had them at later parades.
    I believe you speak with your tongue firmly wedged in your cheek when you speak about the burning of posters. There is a designated period by which posters have to be removed and it would be more productive to condemn politicians who did not take their posters down in time. There have been numerous publications of Sinn Fein posters stolen the night after they had been erected.
    A further issue on the bonfires is the material that is placed in them. While it is legal to have bonfires, the legislation confirms what cannot be burned. Tyres is one of those things but so is treated timber. The majority of pallets are made with treated timber.
    There are issues of disposal of waste and pallets are a waste product. It is not a simple process of just letting kids walk off with pallets. The supplier of the pallets must show where he is disposing of his waste.
    These last three points are the ways that bonfires will be controlled, notice I say controlled and not stopped. Keep within the law.

  • Zeno

    That’s true. It was 1984 before SF could win a seat. Even the Republican icon Countess Markovich couldn’t win a seat on the Falls.

  • Croiteir

    And neither are the compilers of this cross party report. But a neat attempt not to address your statement that it was designed to keep SF of the back of the govt.

  • DaptoDogs

    Yep, the unionist population is much older. Lots of ways to learn demographic modelling techniques online. Try some and apply them.

  • The Saint

    Maybe they just like to not rock the boat in front in front a vocal unionist?