United Ireland simulations forecast £25bn all-island economic boost

The study says ending partition could potentially bring benefits of more than £25bn to Ireland's economy

A UNITED Ireland would bring a major economic boost for the north and the island as a whole, new research has claimed.

The study by leading academics from the University of British Columbia in Canada suggests that ending partition could bring benefits of €32.5bn – more than £25bn – to the all-island economy.

The report, which is launched in Belfast today, begins with the premise that partition has opened up an economic gap between the two parts of the island, with the Republic experiencing much greater success.

The academics then employ a series of complex simulations – or models – to forecast the outcome of three unification scenarios.

They predict long-term benefits for the north's economy due to the removal of currency, trade and tax barriers, while the south would also gain from barrier-free access to the north.

GDP in the north would grow by 4-7.5 per cent, the study suggests, with an increase in the south of 0.7-1.2 per cent.

According to one of the report's contributors, questions about Irish unification need to be addressed because economic development in the north is falling further behind the south.

"This growing divergence is particularly relevant insofar as issues of national identity are becoming ever more fluid in the context of the supranational European Union (EU) in which both parts of Ireland belong," said Marcus Noland of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

"Yet in the medium-term future the relationship between these two parts of Ireland potentially could become more problematic due to the possibility of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU – the so-called 'Brexit'."

Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín described the results as "astounding".

The Meath West TD said he was also shocked to learn the report was the first of its kind since the foundation of the state.

He said in the immediate aftermath of 1998's Good Friday Agreement there had been real hope for the development of an all-Ireland economy.

"Unfortunately since then preconceived political ideology has put the brake on the economic opportunity of the island," he said.

Mr Tóibín called on the Republic's caretaker government to study the modelling research alongside an all-party Oireachtas committee report on the all-Ireland economy.

However, East Antrim DUP MLA Gordon Lyons last night branded the research "Gerry Adams-style economics".

"Support for the union has never been higher in Northern Ireland because people see the value of our NHS and being part of one of the world's largest economies, as well as many other positives of being in the United Kingdom," he said.

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