Poll showing voters reject €20bn Unification Cost underscores accurate economic data’s importance in the reunification debate…

Ben M is a slugger reader from Dublin

John Fitzgerald, an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Economics in TCD, recently published an analysis of unification that highlighted a “worst case” scenario for it economically. In this, he postulated NI might cost the rest of Ireland €20bn, almost twice what the current subvention costs Britain.

It was a far-fetched figure, and he has questionable motivations. However, I think reunification supporters need to urgently learn two lessons from this episode. Number 1 – Like it or not, Mr. Fitzgerald is representative of a sizable minority in the South. These people’s views will have to be neutralized with rational, fact-based arguments.

Number 2, and more importantly, the only authoritative source for reunification economic data can be the Irish State. Therefore, it is imperative reunification supporters get it to produce this data.

It’s pointless relying on anyone else but the Irish State (in practice – Government Departments, the wider Civil Service, and related Semi-State bodies) for this data. It is the Irish State who will negotiate and plan for the costs of unification, everyone else is just second-guessing them. Not to mention other players muddying the waters because they are partisan and have an axe to grind.

Furthermore, this data is central and vital to the UI cause. It not only helps ensure the faction in Irish society that Mr. Fitzgerald represents loses the argument. Even more importantly, it helps win over the middle-ground voters in the North, needed to take a border poll beyond 50%+1. Over and over again, polling has shown advantageous economic data about a post-UI Ireland is what drives them to support the issue.

Some people think reunification support will drift to 50%+1 in NI as the decades pass, perhaps. However, if its supporters want to make it happen sooner, with a plan and purpose, it’s hard to see how they can do it without first having the most authoritative source of economic data. Sinn Féin should make this a top priority in the Dail, and even as the Opposition, I wonder if they are missing opportunities to do this. They are entitled to challenge Ministers and their Departments to produce facts and figures. I wonder if they were more strategic if they could exploit that towards the goal of producing authoritative reunification data.


The Business Post article with Red C data is pay-walled. It polled people in the South. When asked how they would vote for a UI that cost Ireland €20bn annually. 28% said Yes, 30% said Don’t Know, and 42% said No.


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