Why is a united Ireland necessary?

Sir, – Please let us all now step back from this Border poll nonsense before it’s too late.

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin is correct. A Border poll would be explosive. Those of my generation know exactly what that means; as do the survivors and the relatives of the many thousands who died during the civil war that raged in Northern Ireland from 1970 to 1998, now euphemistically and callously called “The Troubles”.

It is a common part of our public discourse in the Republic of Ireland to say one agrees with, wants, or supports the idea of a “united Ireland”.

But why? Why is this necessary? Why does virtually everyone in public life and those who write editorials for The Irish Times feel the need to support it and even describe it as “a noble aspiration”?


Is it not time to reframe our national story to reflect current political and constitutional realities so that our primary schoolchildren no longer carry this 19th-century intellectual baggage which delivers some of them as recruits to the irredentists.

Is it not time that we as citizens of the Republic of Ireland, 100 hundred years after the foundation of our State, and that of Northern Ireland, should challenge the assumptions underlying this unity “truism”? Surely the ongoing death and insecurity caused by those who claim they are simply acting in pursuit of this “noble aspiration” should give us pause for thought.

Why in heaven’s name should we contemplate or prepare for a Border poll when there are still 100 walls dividing the community in Northern Ireland? When the “new” IRA plants a bomb trying to slaughter a young woman and her child in the name of “the noble aspiration of unity”.

Surely community reconciliation in Northern Ireland is the urgent task we should be engaging with as a “noble aspiration”?

We need to reformulate our rhetoric, both nationalist and unionist, to reflect what we agreed to in the Belfast Agreement.

That agreement has, as far as I’m concerned, as one of the 94.39 per cent who voted for it, and who played a small part in preparing the ground for it, embedded a constitutional settlement for peace on this island fit to last for the next 100 years and more.

But only if the political leadership in Northern Ireland, Westminster and the Oireachtas harness it to the task of reconciliation rather than trying to outflank each other. – Yours, etc,


(Former TD

and MEP),

Dublin 11.