‘A New Ireland: a ten year plan?’ is being launched at events in Dublin and Belfast tomorrow (7th December).
The book considers the prospect for Irish reunification in the context of the impact of Brexit and demographic changes in Northern Ireland, alongside the economic strength and increasing social liberalism of the Irish Republic. Things are changing in Ireland, north and south.
But the problems associated with the Brexit referendum result demonstrate the danger of having a yes/no vote without considering first the full impact of the possible outcomes. My book is not a comfortable read for nationalists and republicans. While I believe a united Ireland would be a better social and economic outcome than the status quo, the book is a warning about having a border poll today, without considering in detail what would happen after the referendum.
I believe that having a ten year strategy for economic integration, greater social integration within Northern Ireland, for health service reform (north and south) and for infrastructure investment would create a realistic and implementable road map for Irish reunification. It would provide a basis for a step-by-step erosion of the annual subvention from UK taxpayers. (According to the Treasury, Northern Ireland receives a £10bn annual subsidy – though a respected academic study suggests that £5bn is more accurate.)
So it is essential that Irish society – on both sides of the border – considers what a reunited Ireland would look like and how we could achieve an outcome in which all communities are content. We need to have sensible and tolerant conversations about the future – as soon as possible. I am extremely happy that the book contains interviews with leading unionists and loyalists – as well as nationalists and republicans – about how they see the future of Ireland.
Many more people in Northern Ireland who were born into unionist traditions are considering for the first time whether life in a united Ireland might be better, in terms of being part of a stronger economy and a more open social attitude. Even senior unionist politicians – some of them – are now willing to consider Irish reunification and whether it might be beneficial for the whole population of Northern Ireland.
I hope the book will stimulate an even broader, and more inclusive conversation.
The book launches are open to the public, with copies of the book available for purchase and signing. They take place at Buswells Hotel in Dublin from 9 am to 11 am and at the Europa Hotel in Belfast from 2 pm to 4pm on Friday the 7th of December.
‘A New Ireland: a ten year plan?’ can be ordered from Amazon.
Paul Gosling is editor of ‘Lessons from the Troubles and an Unsettled Peace’, author of ‘A New Ireland’ and ‘The Fall of the Ethical Bank’ and co-author of ‘Abuse of Trust’, the story of a child abuse scandal in Leicestershire. He is engaged by the Holywell Trust charity on peace and reconciliation projects and is Parliamentary Assistant to Sinead McLaughlin MLA, the SDLP’s economy spokesperson.