Preparing for a Border poll?


Sir, – After reading “Should we be preparing for a Border poll?’’(Peter Shirlow, Opinion & Analysis, January 11th), I am more convinced than ever of the old saying, “Never wake a sleeping tiger’’. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.

Sir, – Peter Shirlow is correct that the conditions for a Border poll are not currently in place – but that is not an argument against preparing for one. He refers to Liverpool University’s NI general election survey of last year, which found that 5 per cent of voters prioritised constitutional issues, compared to 80 per cent who were more focused on education, health, jobs and the economy. Yet the reality is that these concerns are directly linked to the constitutional settlement.

In 2019, a senior Sinn Féin elected representative told a public meeting where I was also a speaker that it was not part of her role to get Northern Ireland to work better, which is the requirement for resolving the very poor outcomes in the North in terms of education, health, jobs and the economy. That view is widely held across republicanism, believing that Northern failure strengthens the case for Irish unity. Ironically, the attitude seems to be shared by much of political unionism, which acts as if infantalisation and dependency on Westminster secures its place in the union.

Improving conditions in the North is inseparably connected to resolving the constitutional settlement – the current governance arrangements are not effective in improving people’s quality of life. This does not inevitably mean a unitary Irish state. There are options and we need to achieve what is both a settled and a shared solution.

But that conversation is beginning, marking the start of preparations for Ireland’s future. – Yours, etc,