United Ireland – a Swiss role?

Sir, – We need only look at the successful, prosperous state of Switzerland to see what a united Ireland could look like. The 26 cantons work in harmony with the federal government, together with strong local government. The cantons are divided into three main linguistic groupings, and formerly had significant denominational differences.

There is devolution of federal institutions, with the Federal Council based in German-speaking Bern, the Federal Supreme Court based in French-speaking Lausanne, and the Federal Criminal Court based in Italian-speaking Bellinzona.

There is a sophisticated system of fiscal transfer from rich cantons to poorer cantons to ensure a fair standard of living for all citizens, wherever they live in the country. Direct democracy via referendums and popular initiatives helps to ensure the sovereignty of the people.

This Sunday, the municipality of Moutier, which is a French-speaking town currently in the mainly German-speaking canton of Bern, is voting on a proposal to leave its current canton and to join its neighbours in the French-speaking canton of Jura. The canton of Bern is significantly larger and wealthier than the canton of Jura, and it already stipulates that at least one member of its cantonal government (the executive council) should be a French-speaking region. However, the Jurassian separatists are not content with this.


As is the norm in Switzerland, even this contentious vote will be conducted peacefully, and the debate has been respectful between the two sides. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 3.