Since the prospect of commemorating the 1916 rising arrived in the public consciousness, there has been renewed examination of the operation of southern State, and renewed conversations about unity of the island.
Sinn Féin county PRO Fachtna Roe said: “In November RTE held a Prime Time Special in conjunction with BBC NI. As part of that programme a survey was carried out to determine what levels of public support there are for re-uniting the island.”
“RTE and BBC NI linked the question of re-unification with taxation levels, which necessarily skewed the results of the survey. Most people feel that we don’t get enough good quality service for our taxes anyway, so the prospect of increased taxation was always going to reduce support levels.”
“What wasn’t properly analysed in that programme was the benefits that might accrue from such unity. Thankfully, others have provided some information in this regard, and just as Sinn Féin has said for some time, there are benefits and efficiencies that would arise. Below is quote from the article.”
“However, if one would try to calculate counterfactual costs, it is probably an excellent investment.”
The advantages of unification would be seen on both sides of the border but mainly felt in the North of Ireland, according to Prof Huebner.
“The Republic of Ireland would benefit quite a lot, but the benefits would be mainly accrued by Northern Ireland,” he said.
“And that’s not really a surprise, because if you compare the two entities, then Northern Ireland is obviously the less developed economy.”
“Apart from the aspiration for a whole-island for cultural reasons, there are obvious advantages to not having two Governments, two police forces, two civil services etc.”
“Increasingly there is also evidence that this re-combination would have financial advantages. According to the Irish Post estimate there would be a boost to an All-Island economy of in excess of €30 billion from such a restored unity. This has been reported in some media, such as The Irish Post (http://irishpost.co.uk/united-ireland-would-boost-irish-economy-by-25billion-report-finds/), though there has been less coverage of the idea in Ireland. (http://www.thejournal.ie/ireland-northern-ireland-unification-2672681-Mar2016/)”
Cllr David Doran said: “There’s no logic to justify the continued separation of this island. Both parts have to provide the same basic supports. In addition Belfast is beholden to London for finance.”
“Because there is duplication of effort on both parts of the island, there is money spent twice on the one thing. That money can’t be spent elsewhere. We can see the harm of that in the levels of Austerity that have been applied.”
“Austerity hits the poorest the most, but there is more Austerity when there is recklessness spending. What can be more reckless than having two separate Governments on one small island – along with all the costs that entails?”
“At some point we are going to have to examine closely what our intention as a Nation is. Certainly in the south there has not been enough conversation around this question.”
Fachtna Roe added:”The RTE survey results in November 2015 may have answered the re-unification question to the satisfaction of some. But clearly, not so for all.”
“There is mounting evidence that the changes brought about by peaceful re-unification will be positive on the whole. There will be costs, no one can deny that. But Europe must stand ready to help us, just as we supported Germany when it had the opportunity to re-unify.”
“It is better for the southern State to start examining this question more closely now, rather than later. If Brexit does occur, the opportunity for careful planning will be gone. At that point gone also will be the attention or interest of whatever Government sits in London.”
“Deciding to re-examine the border and it’s meaning may also provide an opportunity to redesign both the southern and northern States from the ground up. Doing so may remove the last inequalities that stand between us and being a Republic, by using the best ideas from both sides of the border to create a State even the women and men of 1916 would be proud of, while yet being a State that Unionists can feel at home in.”