The Politics of a United Ireland

What would the politics of a united Ireland look like? Not that it looks likely any time soon but Brexit, when it actually happens, may well change the gameBrexit has probably made a UI more likely, if more complex. The Assembly Elections in 2017 delivered a significant psychological blow to Unionism. And a Diamond Brexit, to which the UK is headed, will wound weaker regions deeply.

Much of the talk on a United Ireland is on the economics of same. The only estimate of costs and benefits is that of  a US based study, which suggests a €36b boost to all island GDP in the first 8 years, some €4.5b per annum. But then the “block grant” to the Northern Ireland government by the UK government is something of the order of €11b per annum. So even if we were to tax every additional cent at 100%, there would be a gap.

However, here I want to muse on the politics of a united ireland.

Northern Ireland has about 1.8m, Ireland 4.75m citizens. This translates to approx 1.35 and 3.3m voters. The prevailing assumption seems to be that a united ireland will adopt the Constitution as it is, the East German solution, Northern Ireland being seamlessly subsumed into the all island polity. Ok, lets see what that would bring…

Based on the 2016 General Election and the (first) Assembly Election 2017, and giving an additional 150k votes for other parties and individuals , aggregating SF votes, we get vote shares like below.  I know, I know, this is not going to be what a UI poll would be but as a mapping exercise it suggests a greater fracturing .


Based on the Constitution we would need to have between 220 and 331 TD’s… Lets leave aside for the moment where they would actually sit (the existing Dail chamber is too small), lets go midway and  suggest 265 TDs. This would give us a majority requirement of 132. Based on these figures above we have a Dail of this makeup. Feel free to make up 132 seats from that lot..

FG 49
FF 47
SF 47
Others 43
DUP 20
Lab 13
Alliance 7
Greens 7
Social Democrats 6

Then there is the upper house. Where to start with that? Unlike the Dail which varies according to the population it is fixed at 60 members. Its electoral system is breathtakingly unrepresentative, and notwithstanding its many excellent members, it is a discredit  to a democratic system. There is no feasible way that the present Seanad could or should remain in a united ireland scenario.

Any united ireland should and must be accompanied by a wideranging and much needed overhaul of the constitution.