“Opinion polls will never unite Ireland” - so said the Taoiseach in Dublin on Monday, asked about The Irish Times ongoing series of polls on the topic. He is, of course, right. But the question of a united Ireland, in suspended animation for a political generation, is pushing its way back towards the forefront of Irish politics - North and South. As Cormac McQuinn reports, Micheál Martin was responding to yesterday’s results which show that Northern Ireland would vote decisively against a united Ireland, and while the Taoiseach said that debates about unity shouldn’t “be about flags and emblems”, questions about these things have a habit of crystallising what can be an abstract idea for most people. As can discussions about the economy, the health service, political representation, and language - all of which are the subject of questions in our series.
We continue our polling on the question of a united Ireland today, with political editor Pat Leahy bringing more findings to the paper. The latest poll shows that nearly a third of voters in Northern Ireland from a Protestant background say they would find a vote in favour of an united Ireland “almost impossible to accept”. The results of the poll, Pat writes, show that “there is a hard core of unionist voters who would be fiercely opposed to a United Ireland” but that a significant majority of those from a Protestant background would accept the result.
Irish unity, and the union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - but more specifically the pace and manner at which these issues evolve - is likely to be one of the defining parameters of politics on the island in the years to come. There are many reasons, but Brexit and its dislocating impact on the post-Troubles settlement, twinned with the rise of Sinn Féin (particularly south of the Border, campaigning largely on quality of life issues) are chief amongst them. As Ireland moves toward the exit of its decade of centenaries, fresh questions are emerging about the constitutional order on the island to which there are no easy answers - something our polling shows above all.
Elsewhere, Paschal Donohoe was re-elected as president of the Eurogroup following an unconventional gambit that will see him attend as president while Michael McGrath sits as Ireland’s representative. It is a political triumph for Donohoe, and for Fine Gael, who put huge stock in retaining the position. Eyebrows were raised (including by your humble correspondent) at the strange shapes Ireland was contorting itself into to retain the role, with the suspicion that at least one rival candidate might emerge and attract votes made uneasy by Ireland’s unconventional approach. However, Donohoe clearly grasps the politics of Brussels as well as those of Broadstone, and he won the day. Now he just has the small matter of looming economic turbulence, rolling energy crises, stagflation and recession to contend with. Naomi O’Leary’s report is here.
Our lead story focuses on ongoing rises in house prices
Read more on our North and South polling here.
Keith Duggan writes about United Ireland from a rural Roscommon bar here.
Fintan O’Toole on the centenary of the State.
Cabinet has been moved from its usual Tuesday slot to tomorrow as the Taoiseach is in Albania, so the first engagement of the day is mid-morning committees. The subcommittee on mental health meets at 11am to discuss mental health in prisons. The environment committee meets at the same time to discuss the role of media and climate change, followed by a lunchtime session with Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. Stephen Donnelly is the other Minister with committee duties - his €1.4 billion supplementary bailout will be the subject of an engagement with the health committee at 3pm. The full schedule of committee hearings is here.
Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil is at 2pm. In the afternoon, the Government’s Gambling Regulation Bill gets its second stage hearing, before a Sinn Féin private members motion on building defects. That’s at 7pm.Heather Humphreys takes questions as minister for justice at 9pm. A more detailed schedule is here.
A lot of government business in the Seanad today - with the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, the Personal Injuries Resolution Board Bill and the Credit Union Amendment Bill working their way through the upper house. The full schedule can be found here.