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Another scenario I haven't fleshed out is that, following agreement between the Irish government and some N. Ireland parties to a federal post re-unification governance structure retaining the N. Ireland Assembly and Executive at least for a lengthy transition period, N. Ireland actually votes for re-unification. Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, that requires just a simple 50%+1 vote.

However in order assuage unionist fears and reduce the risk of violence, the Irish government also agrees other concessions, e.g. Ireland becomes a member of the Commonwealth, changes its flag and anthem, and guarantees a minimum level of subvention to the N. I. Executive which results in an increased tax burden in the south.

A recent opinion poll in the south revealed these to be unpopular concessions, although there was majority support for unionist participation in the Dublin government and increased British Irish links. But what happens if the south rejects re-unification on this basis? N. Ireland could be left in limbo wanted by neither Ireland or Britain on the terms available.

There is some support for an independent N. Ireland as a Plan B scenario, mainly among unionists determined to avoid a united Ireland at all costs. It is difficult to see N. Ireland surviving without subvention from somewhere however. €12 Billion P.a. for less than 2 Million people is over  €6,000 p.a.for every man, woman, and child. The entire health service budget for N. Ireland is c. €7 Billion, to put the scale of the subvention into perspective.

Unionists might then have to go cap in hand to someone, anyone, to bail them out. Not a very strong bargaining position especially as N. Ireland has only been guaranteed EU membership as part of a united Ireland. That scenario might concentrate a few minds in due course, but as usual, unionists tend not to think more than one step ahead, and even that very badly. They have poisoned the well with just about everybody, and any outbreaks of loyalist violence will only make matters worse.

It would of course be a huge burden for Ireland to take on as well, but Ireland doesn't support a large armed forces with nuclear deterrent, NATO, and all the accoutrements of post imperial Britain. Long term, there is no reason why N. Ireland couldn't become as successful and self-sustaining as the south, if under similar governance.

The real question is how the northern deficit will be funded in the interim, and without a transitionary agreement with Britain, some funding from the EU, and a  lot of economic growth in the interim, it is difficult to see how that could work. Even Germany struggled with the costs of German re-unification for many years. Answers on a post card, please.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jan 1st, 2022 at 12:32:10 AM EST

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