Complacent Assumptions vs Political Reality: a border poll is not inevitable…

Following the vote for Brexit in 2016, a persistent media drumbeat has highlighted the enhanced likelihood of a future border poll – a referendum for a United Ireland. Many Irish nationalists, noting the changing demographics and loss of Unionism’s political majority, have already priced it in. But is this assumption complacent, and if it does happen what are the consequences? The key to unlocking a border poll is the view of the people who live in Northern Ireland (the Republic …

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We could be entering an era of referendum politics. Will it be destructive or creative?

Sinn Fein’s very reason for existing requires that they will call for a border poll during the life time of the 2015-19 Assembly. The tactic is about more than bravado. SF can afford to lose one poll and yet do well enough for another to be called within the prescribed seven years. It might be thought that here is another example of a party refusing to accept the sectarian consequences of their politics.  But  do not doubt that Sinn Fein …

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A referendum on Irish unity is more likely than you think

The flag riots have shown sectarianism to be as potent as ever while the census may have shown that the old easy equivalence between Protestant/ unionist and Catholic/nationalist has gone. What are we to make of the contradiction?  Can we have it both ways:  to be dismayed by the upsurge of sectarian violence yet encouraged by the decline in bottom line sectarian identities? Has the trouble been “the spasm of a dying cause”, as Bill Neely put it from comfortable …

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Referendum demands may be catching

  In that interview trailed by Pete below, the Examiner itself highlights the DPM’s soft voiced approach to an early referendum on unity. Have Alex Salmond’s  tactics found their Irish imitator? The deputy first minister believes the Democratic Unionist Party can be persuaded to agree to such a dramatic move.       Brian WalkerFormer BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and …

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