By Meagher, Kevin
'The Irish question' has dogged British politics in one form or another since at least the time of the 1800 Act of Union and the abolition of the Irish Parliament, as the British state struggled to establish a popular mandate to govern Ireland. During the last three decades of th...e twentieth century, the problem took the form of the Northern Ireland 'Troubles', and although the past twenty years have seen intensive efforts to secure a devolved local settlement via the Good Friday Agreement, the constitutional status of Northern Ireland remains moot. This is because the principle of consent, hard-wired into the GFA, allows for a majority of inhabitants wishing to leave the UK the ability to do so in a referendum. Remote from the UK mainland in terms of its politics, economy and societal attitudes, Northern Ireland is placed, in effect, in an ante-chamber - subject to shifting demographic trends which are eroding the once-dominant Protestant unionist majority, making a future plebiscite on the Province's status a racing certainty. With that in mind, it is hard to believe that the British political class would expend the same energy and enthusiasm making the case for Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK with anything like the same alacrity they displayed with Scotland. The aim of this book is to outline the various political strands conspiring to make a single Irish state the most plausible end-point of this age-old issue and speculate about how this will come about.Read more
Kevin Meagher is associate editor of the political blog Labour Uncut and a former special advisor to Shaun Woodward, Northern Ireland Secretary from 2007 to 2009. He works as a political and communications consultant and regularly writes for a range of publications including the New Statesman and The Independent.
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