A united Ireland seems more possible now than at any point in our history
“Brexit has catapulted this issue forward,” says Pádraig Ó Muirigh, advisor to the Republican Sinn Féin Party. “There is a real sense that we’re living in historical times.” In October, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson effectively agreed to place the de facto future border in the sea between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland. This put both Irelands – the Republic and Northern Ireland – in one economic zone. It also showed Unionists that the English Conservatives considered them expendable. In the Republic, Taoiseach Varadkar has said that Irish unification is something that he would like to see in his lifetime, but only with the consent of the majority of people in Northern Ireland. A group calling itself Ireland’s Future – consisting of 1,000 academics, artists, and public figures, including musicians Christy Moore and Mary Black – made an official request to the Taoiseach in October. It asked him to establish a citizen’s assembly on a united Ireland, in the hopes of holding a referendum on the issue in the near future. The government responded by saying that now was not the time for such action, but that it would consider the issue further.
A recent poll carried out in Northern Ireland found that 46 percent of people would vote for a united Ireland, while 45 percent would vote for the North to remain in the U.K. When those who said they didn’t know or wouldn’t vote were excluded, it broke down as 51 percent for unification and 49 percent against. Some 69 percent said they felt Brexit had made Irish unity more likely in the foreseeable future. ♦