Opinion: Youth for unity - the road to a new Ireland
Last week I had the pleasure of penning an article for Sinn Féin’s new quarterly magazine on Irish Unity, Éire Nua, exhibiting Noam Chomsky’s support for Irish Unity, extolling the potential benefits of reunification and how the coming and current generations can help create a New Ireland.
From climate change to employment, transportation to the eradication of regional inequalities, a sufficiently funded All-Ireland NHS to the creation of an equitable society, there are many reasons for the youth of today to desire re-unification.
As a consequence of the centralisation around Dublin and Belfast, places like Cork, Limerick, Galway, Donegal, Tyrone, Derry and the border counties have been neglected by partitionist governments.
This has led to, as we know only too well, many emigrating out of desperation. People also often leave these areas to go live in, or around, Dublin and Belfast, which only exacerbates the problem. In a New Ireland the reharmonisation of the North and West of Ireland would knock down significant barriers in allowing the free flow of hinterland succour development in areas which have been the victim of neglect. Indeed, the inimitability of the NW could prove to be the ideal place for renewable and sustainable energy production and consequent employment. The NW has significant untapped potential: untapped because partition prevents it fulfilling that potential. The attraction of Green jobs to the area would help in abating the problems facing an area with the worst employment rates on these islands.
The NW’s ability to lead on the creation of Green jobs in Ireland can only be realised to its full potential if the biggest city in the region, Derry, is reconnected to its Inishowen hinterland. The same is true for all border areas.
The landscape and the skilled workers of the NW must be utilised if we are to develop Green jobs and tackle climate change. This requires Irish Unity. If we are serious about preventing an extinction level event, we must unite the country.
The economic benefits of unity (which many economic models suggest to be between €23-36bn) felt by a fiscally sovereign government will help initiate this social-economic regeneration.
To say that transport outside the two main population centres in Ireland (even in Dublin and Belfast it is far from perfect) is poor would be quite the understatement. In the North, there are 53 train stations. Three are situated West of the Bann, there are none in Donegal.
At its peak in 1920, Ireland had 3,500 route miles (4,200 km). The current status is less than half that amount, with a large unserviced area around the border. Indeed, in 2014 an amateur cyclist managed to race, and beat, the Derry-Belfast train. Partition is the cause of this ill.
However, the economic benefits of Unity makes the creation of a European Standard line (as well as rail services in Donegal) very feasible, reducing the journey from Derry to Dublin to only one hour and 30 minutes. Indeed, data analyst and accountant Peter Donaghy supported the idea, having stated on Slugger O’Toole, “in terms of costs, recent high speed rail schemes in Europe have varied between €15-16m/km in Belgium, €4.7-23m in France and €7.8-20m in Spain; the extremely high costs per kilometre of HS2 in the UK aren’t an appropriate comparison due to the high costs of building railway lines in the London area.”
When we consider the benefits of reunification in itself then the money and investment from the US & EU to ensure a successful transition, this project is more than feasible.
The copious economic benefits of reunification would also allow us to fully and sufficiently fund an All Ireland NHS free at the point of use, dramatically improving on the existing Health Care services and provisions North and South which are creaking as a corollary of long-term strain. It provides us with a clean slate: the formation of a Health Service that isn’t neglected, but treasured as the backbone of a New Ireland.
It is unfeasible for social equality to be achieved in an area of the country that was partitioned to consolidate supremacy. To this problem, Unity is the antidote. Equality would be the cornerstone of a new Republic.
It is incumbent upon all of us, especially the younger generations, to ensure such an Ireland is created to the benefits of all. Nobody, only those intent on division, hatred and hegemony, have anything to fear from a United Ireland.