Planning for a united Ireland


Sir, – Dr Chris Kissane’s article “Why we need to start planning for a united Ireland” (Opinion & Analysis, May 1st) is commendable in its warning about the need to construct a clear picture of a new and united Ireland, thus avoiding the mess the people of the UK landed themselves in, when they voted for Brexit without having given enough prior thought to its consequences.

However, my confidence in the writer’s wisdom is somewhat shaken when he writes: “Unionist attachment to Britain must be respected, and the principle of consent means there will rightly never be any incumbency on unionists to join an Irish state in which they do not feel or see a stake.”

The principle of consent means nothing of the sort. The Belfast Agreement is clear on this matter: “[Participants] recognise that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.”

Unionists in the North traditionally have declared, “We are the people.” Times have changed, however, and the “majority of the people of Northern Ireland” means just what it says – not the majority of unionist people.

Irish nationalists and republicans made a major concession when they set aside the will of the Irish people on national unity and agreed that unity should only come when a majority of those in the north of Ireland voted for it. If Dr Kissane thinks that, as the demographics in the North move towards a nationalist majority, democracy should be bent further and the terms of an international agreement ignored, he should perhaps think again. – Yours, etc,