Whether as part of the UK or a United Ireland, we all need Northern Ireland to work…

There is a standard view amongst many republicans that Northern Ireland is a failed state. With every new scandal or government failure, they take a perverse delight in pointing out the flaws as if to say ‘see we told you it does not work!’. They believe that the more Northern Ireland is unworkable and ungovernable, the closer we get to a United Ireland.

The problem with this strategy is that it’s a bit like the cartoon where the Wile E Coyote is perched over a cliff and sawing the plank of wood he is standing on. It does not take into account the damage that this will inflict on themselves.

Our health service being a mess will mean either themselves or their family will not get proper treatment. Our failing education system will mean someone they know will leave school without proper qualifications. Our ailing economy will mean that their kids might need to emigrate to the other side of the world. This is very much a cut your nose off to spite your face approach.

On the other side, many Unionists consider the only way to keep Northern Ireland part of the Union is to make Northern Ireland a success. While this is a more beneficial strategy for us all, it is no guarantee that it will have their desired effect either. There will always be people who will think sure we are doing well, but we could do even better in a United Ireland.

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, there is no getting away from the core fact that whether we are part of the UK or a United Ireland, Northern Ireland needs to work. It needs to work for you, for your family and your friends.

It is a dangerous fantasy to think all our problems will be solved if we have a United Ireland. It lets our leaders off the hook if they can continually kick issues down the road.

At some point, we will face an English nationalism that will start thinking we are fed up giving you troublesome paddies 10 billion a year, we want to spend that money on OUR schools and hospitals. On the other side, will people in the South be so keen on unity if it means their taxes go up to pay for it?

We make a terrible partner. Argumentative, violent, indulged, full of learned helplessness. Our task as a society over the next decade is to hit the gym, take up mindfulness and get a job. We need to become a partner someone would want to politically date.

Mussenden Temple” by Philip McErlean is licensed under CC BY-ND