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Irish reunification - is it possible
#1
Irish reunification - is it possible

Back in the early 80's my group of university friends included two guys from Northern Ireland, one Protestant and one Catholic, who were themselves great friends and often seen together. Occasionally, conversations would turn to the subject of Northern Ireland and the "Troubles" and I remember two points that came up. The first was that my Northern Irish friends resented any English person pontificating on "solutions" for Northern Ireland: we had no idea, they argued, about the history and the complexity of inter-community relations. With that thought in mind I'm going to have to be extremely careful about the way in which I express my opinion. The second point I remember clearly was that my friends told me that, even though they were great friends, they would not see each other in Belfast over the holidays and, were they to pass each other in the street, they would not acknowledge each other. To have done so, at that time, would have been dangerous. I mention this just to illustrate the progress that has been made since the GFA was signed.
As we all know NI voted "remain" but its largest party, the DUP, are arch-brexiters. We must all be aware of the extent to which the border issue has dominated the Brexit negotiations and, I think, most of us are aware of the provision in the GFA for the British Northern Irish Secretary to call for a border poll on reunification if it appears that a majority would be in favour. So, the question of reunification is raised. Is it likely to happen?

There are, I believe, several factors which suggests reunification is possible:
1) Demographics: the proportion of the country identifying as Catholic/Nationalist/Irish is growing in relation to those identifying as Protestant/Loyalist/British. In time - maybe 20 years they would form a clear majority
2) The two communities are no longer divided in the way they once were; The GFA has led to more inter-community exchanges. People have seen the benefits of peace and there is more of a sense of a shared destiny.
3) The Republic is no longer the economic backwater it once was. Neither is it the Catholic Theocracy of old. It is now a modern progressive country and thus many of the fears that Protestants might have had 40 years ago no longer exist.
4) The Brexit debate has shown the people of Northern Ireland that their concerns and their problems simply don't matter to the majority of the English.

Adding all these factors together I would suspect that a border poll could result in a majority for reunification but would that be enough? The majority would, in my opinion, need to be sufficiently large to convince the loyalists to accept the result and to accept reunification peacefully. The problem is that there are strands of loyalism which are immune to compromise and steeped in the traditions of "No surrender". This is why, for all that I see reunification as a positive aspiration and ultimately inevitable, I fear that the timing of a border poll and the manner in which things develop is crucial.

There is one factor which I think could have a significant effect and that is the issue of Scottish independence - again being pushed to the fore by Brexit. The majority of the Protestant population are Ulster Scots and they have more ties to Scotland than they do to England; Should Scotland attain independence and the United Kingdom as we know it cease to exist that would have a significant impact of Loyalists' sense of identity. Would they retain loyalty to England rather than to Britain? 

I see reunification coming but perhaps not quite yet.
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#2
(28-01-19, 01:07 PM)Blackbeard's Ghost Wrote: As we all know NI voted "remain" but its largest party, the DUP, are arch-brexiters.

The DUPes are also the only Northern Irish party that was AGAINST the Good Friday Agreement.
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#3
The key question is if there was a 32-county republic in the morning, would erstwhile unionists engage with their new state or would they be inclined to ignore it? Who would or could they vote for and would they consider it worth voting in elections? Politically, would it work?
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#4
(28-01-19, 07:19 PM)smellybeard Wrote: The key question is if there was a 32-county republic in the morning, would erstwhile unionists engage with their new state or would they be inclined to ignore it? Who would or could they vote for and would they consider it worth voting in elections? Politically, would it work?

Or would they fight it, i.e. would the "Troubles" return?
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#5
(29-01-19, 08:19 PM)Forsete Wrote: Or would they fight it, i.e. would the "Troubles" return?

The thing is that we have already had a switch from British to Irish politics. In 1922, unionism effectively disappeared overnight from the Free State. There was some migration north and south and east and west but unionism's role had gone. It was suggested to me this evening on the G that Dáil Éireann needs to prepare for unionist representation. It doesn't. Unionists must prepare for there being no such thing as unionism and erstwhile unionist voters have to ready themselves for voting for Fine Gael or whoever - just as they did in the first Free State general elections.

I'm not trying to be ignorant here of a sensitive issue; I'm trying to be a realist. 
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#6
After all the fuss in the House of Commons last night I am forced to conclude that we are heading towards a no deal scenario. Even though the HoC voted against "no deal" they either continue to believe that the EU will bend at the last minute or they are positioning themselves to place all the blame for "no deal" on the "horrible unelected EU bureaucrats". The only hope of avoiding "no deal" is that enough MP's start to face up to reality and agree to the Withdrawal Agreement as it stands. Given that most of them seem more interested in preserving their personal positions I am not optimistic that this will happen.
This leads me to the next question - and here I really would like to get the views of our contributors from the RoI.
If there is a "no deal" what will happen at the border? The Irish government and the EU have always stated that they have no desire to introduce border infrastructure but this has been a way to make clear that it is for the British Government to propose ways to preserve the GFA - that preserving the peace process is a British responsibility. 
However, I cannot see how the EU can allow the emergence of a gaping hole in the external frontier of the Union through which goods can pass without paying tariffs and without any checks to ensure that these goods comply with EU regulations. There will have to be some way of policing the border. There is no reason, of course, that this border would require watch towers, razor wire and all the other paraphernalia associated with the pre-GFA border but, even so, it will seriously impact on the lives of people living astride the border and damage the peace process.
I link to https://www.rte.ie/news/brexit/2019/0129...-backstop/
where a Sinn Fein representative admits the possibility that there will be a border but places, quite reasonably, the responsibility for this on the British. So, my question is, should the Irish Government and the EU be obliged to put up any sort of border, however "light", will the consensus in Irish politics hold and who will be blamed by the Irish people (North and South)
We should also remember that "no deal" also means a sea border between the RoI and the UK - at least for goods - and the potential for serious disruption to freight passing to/from Ireland to the continent via the UK.
Ireland's economy will surely be hit hard and I think the EU has to make clear that it will do all in its power to mitigate the problems: more direct ferries, more flights, financial aid.
Like I said, I'd appreciate comments from our Irish friends
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#7
Think we're looking at a leaky hard border with no personal movement controls.
To begin with, pretty much everything will leak and as the organisation is put in place, more and more goods will be controlled - starting with live animals and products of animal origin. 

During the troubles all the customs posts were moved away from the actual border. I assume this would be the case post brexit, with trucks calling to customs posts on an honour system and random patrols and checkpoints.

Depending on how the UK behaves and what food imports they allow, we will see bans on consumers importing some goods for personal consumption. Mrs. Murphy will not be able to go to Enniskillen for her bit of roast beef but she will probably only be subjected to very occasional stops at the border. The Northern Ireland retail sector will suffer. 

The real issue will be for farmers whose produce travels cross-country for processing and then into or out of the EU for final consumption. West of the Bann, farming and the food industry is completely integrated, north and south. In the days before the Euro, Tesco and other UK based chains and Irish supermarket chains operating in the UK used irish products sourced in sterling or irish pound areas to balance their foreign exchange. In the south, we see a disproportionate amount of N.I. stuff on the shelves to balance the produce from the south heading to GB. These days we also see GB stuff in Aldi and Lidl as they convert their pounds to euros.
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#8
Don't understand the backstop? Read this.

The backstop isn’t just about trade. Is that so hard to understand, Britain? (31 Jan 2019)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfre...-agreement
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#9
The Irish rugby team has been the best European rugby team for several years. It’s a united (South and North) team. And it does not seem to be a problem.

The way they play rugby is beautiful.
This team is a glimpse from the future !
Just have a watch at the 6 nations tournament  during the next two months !

Elsewhere in Europe, only the Stade Toulousain is able to play dreadful rugby ...
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#10
(31-01-19, 08:18 AM)ύδωρ περάσουσιν Wrote: The Irish rugby team has been the best European rugby team for several years. It’s a united (South and North) team. And it does not seem to be a problem.

The way they play rugby is beautiful.
This team is a glimpse from the future !
Just have a watch at the 6 nations tournament  during the next two months !

Elsewhere in Europe, only the Stade Toulousain is able to play dreadful rugby ...

Yes I will watch it (available on DAZN). Starting tomorrow: France-Wales!   Smile

I am also a regular watcher of the Rugby Europeans Champions Cup.

From Ireland, Leinster and Munster are quite good. Leinster in fact in 2018 were simply the best, e.g. the ECC winners. 

From France? Toulouse, Racing and Toulon come to my mind.


Better and better sports teams from Ireland reflect its growing economy. More money available for better training facilities and so on!
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