Platform - Neale Richmond Fine Gael TD: A united Ireland 'makes sense' for both the economy and its people
Fine Gael TD Dublin Rathdown
I WAS honoured to take part in Ireland’s Future ‘Together We Can’ meeting in the 3Arena in Dublin this past weekend.
To discuss my desire for Irish unity with people from every political background in a room of 5,000 people was hugely inspiring and is not something I took lightly.
In my panel discussion I was asked a very simple question: why do you want a United Ireland?
My answer was simple, because it makes sense. It makes perfect sense for an island to be united, for an economy to be united and for a people to be united.
Currently, we have a system where we have businesses that are geographically very close, competing for foreign direct investment from companies where they should be working together.
We have two currencies, two tourism sectors competing for visitors, two education systems competing for third level students, the list goes on and on.
Put frankly, we have far too much competition when we should be working together to benefit us all.
By bringing together our two economies we can simplify our healthcare systems, public transport, education and more.
There is massive scope to take the very best aspects of North and South and bring them together in a new, better, united Ireland.
Of course, this argument is nothing new, nothing that those of us who have long been engaged in this discussion on unity have not heard before.
By now we are all aware that unity can economically benefit all of us on this island by removing barriers; allowing us to work together more efficiently and effectively.
This argument is well known and perhaps has convinced as many people to vote for a United Ireland as it ever will.
What I couldn’t help but think as I sat in the 3Arena on Saturday was that I also want a United Ireland because I have an emotional attachment to it and I desire unity.
This is something that so many people share, 5,000 of whom care enough to give up their Saturday to listen to politicians and civic society leaders from across our island discuss it.
The discussion around unity can sometimes boil down to the unfounded assumption that a large amount of people in Northern Ireland desire it, and those in the South need to be convinced of it, beyond the emotional draw.
I truly do not believe this to be the case. Instead of continuing to sell how much better off those in Northern Ireland would be in a United Ireland, we should be stressing the benefits that Northern Ireland and its people can bring to us.
With its excellent schools and universities producing high qualified graduates and young workers, its hugely attractive tourism sector, highly qualified healthcare staff and its growing economy, Northern Ireland has a lot working in its favour.
It is not the case that Northern Ireland is a place that is so limply struggling and requires us in the South to swoop in and help it recover, Northern Ireland is a strong performer in its own right and would be of great benefit to those of us in the south as well, especially when the benefits of the Northern Ireland Protocol are taken into consideration and come to fruition.
Would unity help Northern Ireland grow perhaps faster than as a part of the United Kingdom?
Yes, I firmly believe that this is the case. However, this does not mean that Northern Ireland is not bringing its own unique set of benefits to the table in the unity discussion.
The discussions around unity are happening at a rate that most of us have rarely seen. We must continue to engage in this discussion, but we must also look at the arguments for unity from every available angle.
I was heartened by Saturday’s discussion and I am really looking forward to engaging with those from all perspective as we move forward.