Economics and a united Ireland
Sir, – John FitzGerald highlights potential negative impacts of Irish unity North and South (“North and Republic could pay a very large economic and social price for Brexit”, Business Opinion, September 13th).
However, a “ní féidir linn” perspective ignores the many potential synergies that reunification would bring.
Demographic trends suggest that our combined population of almost seven million could reach eight million over the next 15 years or so. This will bring significant economies of scale and scope as Ireland becomes a country closer in population size to Sweden or Austria.
Current welfare levels in the North (or South) may not be required nor should we resign ourselves to this outcome. A new “Agreed Ireland” could benefit from significant inward investment as the industrious heritage of the North combines with the tech economy of the South, in particular if we are the only English-speaking EU member state, apart from Malta.
Large capital programmes will be required to connect the country, and projects such as high-speed rail and upgrades to roads, energy and other infrastructure will act as economic stimuli and provide employment.
Initiatives will be required to help integration. In the field of education one could imagine cultural exchanges North and South, European language exchanges and Irish college programmes all becoming mandatory parts of the school curriculum, while workforce retraining and reskilling programmes could spur positivity and innovation. There may be synergies with the rest of Europe also as we will be free to join Schengen. EU assistance will no doubt will be readily available and we will have additional MEPs to represent us.
Certainly much planning and agreement would be required to adapt systems such as health, policing, governance and decision-making. The good news is that as a nation we are much better at these compared to a few decades ago and, at the rate at which we are continuing to improve, the capacity for the long-term planning required to make reunification a success is not beyond our reach.
The Ireland rugby and cricket teams have shown how much more we can achieve together and with the right approach. “Is féidir linn”! – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Thanks to John FitzGerald for injecting a little reality into the reunification debate.
We need more hardheaded and rational analysis and less blarney and magical thinking . – Yours, etc,
Sir, – As a master of the dismal science, John FitzGerald should know it’s not all about the money. – Yours, etc,