Northern Ireland news

Nationalism welcomes Max Hastings' prediction for Irish unity but unionism is less enthusiastic

Max Hastings said the border would disappear within a generation

DISTINGUISHED historian Max Hastings' claim that Ireland will be united "within a generation" has been welcomed by civic nationalist group Ireland's Future.

Unionism has been was less enthusiastic in its response, however, with DUP MP Ian Paisley describing the former Daily Telegraph editor-in-chief as "wrong".

In an opinion piece for the Bloomberg website, the leading British military historian predicted Irish unity and described the ending of partition as a "historic injustice will be righted".

Recalling how he lived in Kilkenny in the 1970s while reporting on the Troubles, Mr Hastings said the English would not be overly concerned by the north's departure from the union, claiming that "most British people care not a fig" for Ireland.

He argued that before direct rule was imposed, unionism treated Catholics "almost as harshly as US white segregationists in the old South treated African Americans" and that the north is "kept alive only by massive subsidy from Britain".

Ireland's Future chief executive Gerry Carlile described the piece as "yet another contribution to the ever developing conversation about constitutional change in Ireland".

"The damage that Brexit has caused and the anti-democratic nature of forcing the north of Ireland out of the EU against our will cannot be understated," he said.

"Increasingly opinion from a wide range of differing backgrounds is that the Good Friday Agreement must be protected and that within that agreement is the provision for a unity referendum."

Mr Carlile said people from differing traditions were "talking about a better future" and speaking about the importance of a citizens’ assembly, along with the need to prepare and plan for constitutional change.

"It is increasingly evident that more people recognise the tremendous opportunities a new Ireland will present," he said.

But Ian Paisley disagreed. "He’s always been wrong but (I'm) not surprised by his defeatism," he told The Irish News.

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