Ben Lowry: Irish unity seems far off, but a sea-change cannot be ruled out

The 1916 Proclamation but Ireland is not close to unity 100 years later
The 1916 Proclamation but Ireland is not close to unity 100 years later
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I remember talking to a republican, sometime around the year 2000, who was still anticipating a united Ireland by 2016 or soon after.

Such a prospect seemed highly improbable but not entirely inconceivable, because when you are young 16 years seems a long time, so 2016 sounded far in the future (but not quite as far as 2032 seems now, because I am older and time seems to move faster). The centenary year of 2016 came round in what seemed like a blink.

Now, with support for Irish unity lower perhaps than at any time since Partition, it seems mad even to have entertained the notion that things might have changed much from 2000 to 2016.

But despite the absence of progress towards unity then, I would not make predictions about the next 20 years.

The UK seems fragile to me and events from Isis to mass migration to Scots nationalism have shown how fast there can be seismic upheaval.

I do still fear, as I wrote some weeks ago, that Brexit could be a catalyst for a sudden sea-change in the UK.

Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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