The reunification of Ireland is a project supported by a large part of the inhabitants of the island of Ireland, which aims to put an end to the division of the island between independent Ireland and Northern Ireland under British sovereignty.
Elections are coming up in May, most Irish people seem to be in favor of a union, a situation that is worrying because a lot of tension is expected. According to a poll published in December 2021 by the daily newspaper « The Irish Times », a large proportion of the population of Ireland, about 62%, is in favor of the unification of the island. A political union with Northern Ireland would therefore be possible according to the Irish, but on the other side of the border, they would rather remain in the United Kingdom.
The war of independence in 1921 has divided the island into two distinct territories, Northern Ireland and the independent State of Ireland. Organized by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, the partition of the island took place on 3 May 1921. The war of independence in 1921 has divided the island into two distinct territories, Northern Ireland and the independent State of Ireland. Organized by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, the partition of the island took place on 3 May 1921.
“if reunification does not happen, Ireland will never be a … peaceful society ”
This issue is seen as a priority by most Irish people. Paula Nic Cionnaith, a former Irish language teacher at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, explains that reunification would be a good initiative for the country: « A cohesion of the two parts of the island would be a good idea in my opinion, it would allow us to enter a new era and gather our forces”.
She also explained that if there is a union, there would be advantages as well as disadvantages: « It will be like the current society. There will be winners and losers. There will be people who are better off and people who are worse off. Only one thing is certain, if reunification does not happen, Ireland will never be a prosperous, peaceful, equal and just society” Paula added.
According to the Irish Times poll only 16% of Irish people are against reunification. The remaining 22% said they had no opinion. Like Ryan Murphy, 35-year-old painter, many are not in favor of reunification. « I don’t think this union is a good thing. I think we should stay as we are now, if we break the law that divides Ireland in two, I’m afraid we won’t be a free state like we are now”.
The Brexit has had an impact on the politics of the two Irelands, the six counties have already been used as a political football in the Brexit mess. The history and future of the two islands are inextricably linked due to the colonial claims of the British. It will be very interesting to see what Scotland does, too. « Whatever happens, I think most people with a sense of political awareness realize that things cannot stay as they are since partition, » added Paula Nic Cionnaith.
A debate that worries people
For Ryan Murphy, who defends a strong United Kingdom. Nothing hole drayed was going to change after the Brexit. And Irish football supports will always support English teams, he says. The Irish still have family in England and go to England to look for work.
In the Republic of Ireland, the people of Dundalk are less enthusiastic. While 63% of Irish people are in favor of reunification, they are concerned about the cost. « Of course, we’d like to live together, of course it’s sad to be so divided! But we can’t afford it. In the North they have free health care, it would be too expensive to set up here, » says Anna Dunne, an Irish pensioner. « Not to mention their education system, which is also very different from ours.
Not everyone is looking north. « I may live ten minutes away, but I don’t really have any reason to go there, » admits Sean Kelly, a 32-year-old Irish shopkeeper. « I don’t want to get into a fight because of my southern accent”. For him, the two parts of the island are certainly « connected » like France and Spain: a few kilometers apart, but far apart in the mind.
So, everything becomes more complicated when think about free movement of people and goods. The regilded of these flows without borders and without customs posts is a hype issue. This is the crux of the matter, the Brexiteers campaigned mainly on the migration issue, and the regulation of flows. The Brexit provision that installs health and customs checks to prevent the ‘Troubles’ from re-emerging in the region are.
The Brexit, which no one in either Ireland wanted, is not « just an event », it has « changed the game ». An opportunity to put the question « Why is Ireland divided? » back on the agenda. A majority of people on the island of Ireland want to remain members of the European Union. In the north, those who have long been divided – Unionists and Republicans, Protestants and Catholics – seem for the first time to be in political agreement.
For they have realized that their electorate is far more attached to Brussels than to London. The majority of the Northern Irish no longer hate Dublin, they have businesses there, they cross the border far more often than they go to England. Some, at the time of Brexit, even rushed to get an Irish passport so that they could continue to travel freely in Europe. Until a few years ago, it was unthinkable for a Protestant Unionist to swap his British passport for an Irish one ! Northern Ireland is at a turning point. Its future will be written with Dublin and Europe rather than with London, but the ghosts of the past will remain in the minds of many.