Northern Ireland would plunge to the level of a developing nation if we lost UK subsidies

Northern Ireland costs the rest of the UK in net terms over �10 billion per year
Northern Ireland costs the rest of the UK in net terms over �10 billion per year

The article (‘A united Ireland would be much stronger economically than is NI’, August 9) by Paul Gosling agrees with Peter Robinson’s unfortunate call to consider demands for a united Ireland.

He suggests we’d have “...substantial influence over the way a Dublin administration is run.”, and that “A united Ireland would be much stronger economically than is Northern Ireland...”.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

It is hard to accept such reasoning can be sincerely advanced by a financial journalist.

On the first point, it is obvious NI would have plenty of influence in a united Irish government.

It should be equally obvious that while the great majority of us wish for excellent neighbourly relations with our southern neighbour, a majority of us don’t wish for substantial influence in Dublin in a united Ireland.

A majority here is content with current arrangements, sending our MPs to London to represent us (or not), per the rest of UK.

The IRA’s efforts to bomb us into a united Ireland of course strengthened this sentiment.

For Mr Gosling’s argument to make sense, he has to construe NI as a small member lacking influence in a larger United Kingdom. Yet when he turns to our struggling economy, he suddenly treats us as if we were an independent nation.

Mr Gosling provides examples of economic weakness, compares us with the Republic, and suggests joining them will fix all this.

To be clear, we cost the rest of the UK in net terms over £10 billion per year. That’s over a 30% deficit, unheard of in an independent developed nation.

We continue to survive for as long as London’s patience with this survives.

We would become a developing nation if this subvention was removed.

The Republic of Ireland could not afford this subvention, as it is a far smaller economy than the UK.

I state that with no delight.

The conclusion of following Mr Gosling’s rationale is in fact unionism — particularly if one supports our NHS, as he does.

Our severe economic problems will remain as long as the DUP and Sinn Fein run things.

Likewise, the constitutional question will not disappear. We can have that debate in the context of success, or failure.

We can have the Province repeatedly run into the ground. Sinn Fein can fume about their voters’ poverty while advertising their incompetence to voters in the south.

The DUP can sneer at how Dublin can’t afford us, all the while pocketing cheques from London and alienating us in the eyes of the British public.

That is not a wise place for unionism to be in.

The alternative, which would require London to fix the way Stormont operates, would be to take difficult decisions on how money is spent, and help us become healthy and economically productive.

It’s crucial unionism can show the rest of the UK we are an asset.

The weakness of Mr Gosling’s argument suggests he’s straining for anything to support the case for a united Ireland. He should try the DUP.

No one, in the last decade, has done more to rally Sinn Fein votes, alienate moderate nationalists, disgrace us in the eyes of the British public, and, for good measure, completely undermine the causes of the moral issues they claim to support.

In February 2013 a poll suggested 17% of people in NI wanted a united Ireland.

That this is seriously being debated at all speaks clearly to the DUP’s hapless leadership and vision for Northern Irish unionism.

Carl McClean, UUP councillor, Bangor