If we consider a united Ireland, politicians on both sides of the border need to be clear about the benefits

In 1912 my great-grandfather, John Joe Hall, signed the Ulster Covenant and defied Home Rule. He had good reason to. As a Presbyterian farmer from Cavan, he feared a Catholic independent state. Looking back, I can understand his concerns.

He would have worried about the competence of a new, inexperienced government with limited resources, coupled with fears that his children might have lost educational and career opportunities in a majority-Catholic religious state with no connection to Britain.

When the partition loomed in 1922, he would certainly have feared for his personal safety and that of his family on the wrong side of the border. Could he continue to farm the land his ancestors had farmed for hundreds of years, or risk losing it all?

I grew up less than 10km from the Fermanagh and Northern Ireland border. A hundred years after independence, I can happily say that my great-grandfather’s fears have not come true.

But as the prospect of a united Ireland resurfaces, many are becoming Ulsters
Protestants today have fears similar to those of my great-grandfather more than a century ago. The responsibility lies with politicians north and south of the border who want a united Ireland to create a positive case to appeal to Ulster’s Protestants. Indeed, there are strong arguments why Catholics and Protestants would be better off economically and socially as part of an inclusive, progressive united Ireland.

Economically, the Irish state has outperformed. The six counties of Northern Ireland accounted for 80 per cent of Ireland’s industrial output when my great-grandfather signed the covenant. Now the opposite is the case, where the Republic today produces almost 30 times more exports than the North. Disposable income is 12 percent higher in the South, while GNI (Gross National Income) per capita in the South is 1.9 times that of the North. Society is also more equal in the Republic, with 1.5 times more people living in poverty in the North than in the Republic.

The mismanagement of the North’s economy over the last 100 years has been a tragedy. Of course the riots had a huge impact on Northern Ireland in that regard. Young people in Northern Ireland are two to three times more likely to leave school early. It costs a third less to attend higher education in the republic.

For every 100 applicants there are just 60 places at Northern Irish universities. As a result, over 17,000 university students leave Northern Ireland to study in the UK each year, with two thirds staying there.

Much like the Republic, Northern Ireland is in the midst of a property crisis, with demand far exceeding supply. An analysis in 2018 found £7.1bn in UK investment was needed to improve the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s 85,000 existing homes over the next 30 years.

The Republic of Ireland is a pluralistic society. Religious and ethnic identity is important and valued, but it does not define, limit or divide its citizens.

The fledgling Irish state took time to build their confidence and made many mistakes. However, the Constitution and robust institutions have created an Irish polity that looks like a rock of stability compared to our UK neighbours.

Health care is often cited as a reason for Northern Irish people to stay in the UK with its cherished NHS. However, the facts do not fully support the view that the NHS trumps the HSE. In the republic, life expectancy is higher and infant mortality lower than in the north.

Between 2017 and 2021, the proportion of people on day and inpatient waiting lists for more than a year rose to 20 per cent in Ireland, compared to 60 per cent in Northern Ireland. A 2018 lancet Research shows Irish healthcare ranks 11th in the world for access and quality versus 23rd for the UK.

We need to look very closely at health outcomes before making an assessment that one service outperforms the other. A united Ireland must capitalize on the strengths of both jurisdictions and ensure that care is not diminished, but improved over the current situation.

My brother’s farm in Cavan faces brighter prospects within the EU and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), while farmers 10km to the north look with concern at what new farm rules will emerge after Brexit. The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill threatens Northern Ireland’s farmers’ access to the EU market in the short term, but things look even more uncertain in the long term.

To appeal to the middle ground and the broader unionist community, political parties north and south must make the case that Ireland’s accession will offer people in the north better social, economic, educational and health opportunities as a united Ireland will be a safer place for Protestants , and their culture and heritage are accepted and protected.

Lorraine Hall is a Fine Gael Councilor for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/if-were-to-consider-a-united-ireland-politicians-on-both-sides-of-the-border-need-to-outline-the-benefits-clearly-42016014.html If we consider a united Ireland, politicians on both sides of the border need to be clear about the benefits

Fry Electronics Team

Fry Electronics.com is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@fry-electronics.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button