The FT is reporting on an ambitious plan by billionaire Irish American hedge fund manager Ronan O’Shaughnessy to finance the cost of Irish reunification.
With Brexit there have been increasing demands for a border poll on reunification. One of the major issues for debate is how the Republic will pay for an all Ireland. But Mr O’Shaughnessy believes he has a solution:
Our economic appraisal of the situation is that reunification will cost in the region of 6billion euro per year for the first five years. From year five, we see that dropping to 4 billion per year as cost savings from rationalisations kick in. We anticipate by year 10 of reunification the boost to the overall Irish economy will neglect the need for any further subvention.
The plan has two elements:
Funding from the EU: The EU will give direct grants to Ireland to help it cover costs. The EU investment bank will also give soft loans to Ireland.
Funding from the US: Dubbed a mini-Marshall plan, the US government will underwrite so-called ‘Unity Bonds’ on the world bond market. This will help Ireland raise the necessary cash at a low-interest rate.
The plan is gaining backing with some influential players on both sides of the Atlantic. Former Senator George Mitchell is on the board of O’Shaughnessy’s company and it is understand he has been lobbying Bill Clinton to support the plan.
Mr O’Shaughnessy grandfather Francis was born in County Leitrim, before emigrating to America in 1932. Francis made the family fortune as the inventor of Polar Foil, a food wrapping product most famously used as the foil on KitKats chocolate bars.
It is understand Mr O’Shaughnessy will present his plan to EU Finance Ministers at their July conference in Flora I Pol Italy. It will be interesting to see the full details of his proposal.
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