‘ The Economic Imperative’ by Jessica McGrann

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One of the main arguments against the reunification of Ireland is that the north is unviable and the south cannot afford us. Now the first point I would make is we are talking about reunification of our country which is presently one  country with two jurisdictions operating independently resulting in two economies and two political administrations one Irish administration led from Dublin controlling the 26 counties with London administering the remaining 6 it refused to give up when Ireland voted democratically and overwhelmingly for independence.  When the East Germany economy collapsed, reunification was the solution and the same will apply in Ireland.  Dublin cannot wash its hands of the north and the Good Friday Agreement only delays the inevitable until such time as there is a clear majority who support unification.

In other words, the problems caused by partition are with us indefinitely until we can persuade a majority in the north to support reunification as per the terms in the Good Friday Agreement.

So does the economic argument stack up?

First of all, the Irish citizens in the north are as equally Irish as any individual in the 26 counties.  Because we have had to endure more discrimination from unionism in the past, a conflict started by unionists and actively pursued by the British state who remain still present and active through MI5 who are still recruiting to this day – that does not mean we can be simply dismissed by the southern establishment who have a duty to their citizens which they have neglected.

Having said that, I would not want to be an economic burden on our fellow citizens in the south.

Statistical information is not easy to come by. I have included the resources I have used to attempt to make sense of the economics of unification to the best of my ability based on simple google search to put it in context.  It would be great to hear other more expert opinions.

Based on the information I found in the sites referenced, the north will be totally and utterly screwed without free trade north south.

It is not in the UK’s interest to pay for such a free trade deal like Norway and Switzerland do, as they have a trade deficit to the EU so it would simply not make sense.

Based on these statistics, it is simply fallacy to suggest it is in the north’s best interests to remain in the UK post-brexit. That would be basically cutting off our nose to spite our face and leaving ourselves as a permanent charity case, totally dependent on England, which is not a position I could live with.

Other than north-south trade, the north has a greater trade with the rest of the world than it does with the rest of the EU, especially when the UK leaves.

To be honest, the trade and GDP details for the north look a lot more positive than I was expecting and are double the cost of £20 bn to run our bloated public sector.

Is the subvention real or a deception to control us through fear of negative impact on our pockets?

I see no reason at all that through independence, the economy in the north would not also grow rapidly. We would not only pay our way but be one of the wealthiest regions of Ireland and a benefit in particular to the border counties of the republic but improve things for all of our people.


Now let’s look at the south’s statistics.

First of all, it looks as though the weekly 1Bn trade accounting for almost 50% of trade total being with the UK that has been mentioned during the brexit debates is actually a combination of goods in and out, and Ireland actually buys more from the UK than it sells to the UK.

So while the UK has a trade deficit to the EU, it seems Ireland has a trade deficit with the UK which tariffs from WTO levels would further hurt our economy especially in the north.

The US is clearly our biggest trade partner and is the trade agreement most important to us in both parts of this island.

I suppose it is really down to would we have a better trade deal with the US within the EU or in an alternative trade agreement should England be able to forge one, post UK which is clearly about to fall and will reform.  Ireland alone and outside of any trade agreement with the US is simply not viable – there is no way we would get a better deal on our own.

I fail to see how any unionist can possibly look at these facts and say two separate economies and jurisdictions on this small island makes any sense whatsoever.

The biggest problem in the north remains reliance on the bloated public sector which still subsidises our economy.  It looks as though the report from Canada which shows how this public sector reform could in 8 years produce significant savings which would need to be invested to replace the jobs which would be lost.

Add to this the fact that there are more jobs throughout Ireland requiring immigration, then it really is a no-brainer.

It seems blatantly obvious to me that partition cannot be considered acceptable any longer and we need to be more proactive in demanding something be done about it, starting by telling the people what the economic facts are and proving that our politicians are putting the Irish people first and not imposing second rate standards on us to help the wealthier nations across the water and maintain unionist control for as long as possible.

Ireland needs to be reunified, we need to start discussing this and how to implement it once and for all so there is no additional cost imposed on the southern economy and unification happens to a phase of economic targets to be achieved which will allow full integration and create the benefits for all concerned that are clearly possible.

There is no economic argument against reunification from any quarter and all of the people on this island need to be made aware of this.

Economic Facts

Republic of Ireland: Border Midlands & West

(consisting of counties Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Longford, Donegal, Monaghan, Cavan, Louth)

population (1.1m)

regional GDP £21.8bn (€30bn)

GDP per person £17,200 (€23,700) per person


Republic of Ireland: Southern & Eastern

(consisting of counties Dublin, Wicklow, Meath, Kildare, Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford)

population (3.2m)

regional GDP £103bn (€142bn)

GDP per person £28,950 (€39,900) per person


Northern Ireland

(consisting of counties Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Armagh, Down, Antrim)

population (1.8m)

regional GDP £27.4bn (€37.8bn)

GDP per person £15,200 (€21,000) per person


Republic of Ireland

GDP by sector Services (70.4%), industry (28%), agriculture (1.6%) (2013 est.)

Main export partners

United States 22.2%

United Kingdom 15.1%

Belgium 13.2%

Germany 6.6%

Switzerland 5.9%

France 5.2%

Netherlands 3.8%

Spain 2.8% (2014)


Main import partners

United Kingdom 32.2%

United States 10.8%

Germany 7.9%

China 6.5%

Netherlands 4.9%

France 4.7%

Japan 3.2%

Switzerland 2.3% (2014)



Northern Ireland

GDP by sector Services, construction, agriculture, public sector (% breakdown not available)


£6.327 billion (2015)

Main export partners

EU total (54.7%)

Ireland (33.4%)

United States (17.6%)

Canada (5.8%)

Germany (5.3%)

France (4.8%)



£6.078 billion (2015)

Main import partners

EU total (55.1%)

Ireland (27.2%)

China (16.5%)

United States (8.2%)

Germany (6.1%)

Netherlands (5.7%)












24 Responses to ‘ The Economic Imperative’ by Jessica McGrann

  1. jessica July 31, 2016 at 7:01 am #

    Ok, so annual GDP in the north in 2014 was £27bn and the cost to maintain the bloated public sector we are told is £20bn, the tax revenue raised both out of the GDP and all other forms of taxation bring in around £11bn leaving a deficit of £9bn which is the subvention which is still we are told somewhere between £7bn and £9bn in 2016.

    That makes sense to me.

    So what needs to happen?

    We need to reduce the public sector spend by 25% bringing it down to £15bn.

    We need to increase GDP turnover by 40% bringing it up to £37.8bn and tax revenue to £14bn

    This would cancel out the deficit making us a net contributor and would also reduce costs to the south as per the economic report on the savings of merging the public sectors.

    So how do we do this?

    First of all, if both states got behind reunification it would boost inward investment and help boost growth.

    London needs to be clear that England will not be subsidising unionist intransigence and encouraging them to either reconcile with the rest of the island or if their hatred of everything Irish is just too great, encourage them to relocate to Britain.

    Dublin needs to be more supportive of their Irish citizens in the north and stop pandering to unionism. Even positive comments about the future as a single independent country will boost economic growth in the north and help is achieve these targets which could easily be achieved within 8 years and should be monitored annually so this timescale can move out or in depending on performance and to control the risk of unionist response in case violence is once again reverted to and would also ensure any return to violence will be contained to the north and does not spread over the border which really would destroy our country.

    I agree that the southern economy should not be made to pay for sectarianism in the north and that it should be a phased reunification process where we need to meet economic targets. Each phase would go hand in hand with a merging of the public sectors.

    The process has probably already started with health services already being linked to Dublin but a less behind the scenes and open process would help boost the economy and prepare us for what is coming.

    To say the southern economy cannot afford us, is a cop out, there would be no expense to the people in the south whatsoever and the above approach would guarantee that and also allow time for unionism to get used to the idea.

    • Boomage July 31, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

      Where did you get your statistics from Jessica?

      The NISRA site has a report from 2012 that puts GDP in Northern Ireland at £37.2bn.

      I’d imagine it’s a bit higher for 2015. The problem with Northern Ireland (amongst many) is that no-one seems to actually know what the delta is to run the place each year.

      A lot of reports I’ve read online commonly identify the deficit as £10 billion, but these tend to be from 2011/2012, figures that would tie in to the end of the financial crisis. Since then, there has been small economic growth and cut backs everywhere in public spending.

      Two years ago, in an article by Tom Healy for NERI, he commented;

      “If non-identifiable spending (e.g. UK defence and debt service costs) are excluded the net fiscal deficit or transfer for Northern Ireland was only £5.2 billion in 2011-2011”

      So if the actual delta was only £5.2 billion in 2011, it must be much smaller now. The public service has shrunk by a large amount and the private sector has grown. It wouldn’t be unrealistic to say the actual deficit could be as little as £3/4 billion. Given the Republic of Ireland’s deficit was £17 billion a few years ago, the north is hardly an unaffordable burden.

      I think various media outlets and commentators tend to use the £10 billion figure as a lazy scare tactic, a bit like the ‘1 million angry protestants’ BS that is often raised by those opposed to a united Ireland.

      • jessica July 31, 2016 at 2:59 pm #

        Just from the links referenced at the end of the article Boomage.
        I also have heard the figure of 10bn mentioned and that it has indeed lowered since then
        It seems very difficult to get any accurate data and I am starting to suspect that it is a deliberate tactic to control us.

        I also heard the UK Ireland trade was around 50% during the brexit debate, it turns out this could only be the sum of two way trade and the vast majority is us buying from Britain which is over 30% of total imports.

        There is certainly less than 1 million protestants.

        The total Population is 1.8 million with a 54% catholic majority at school age.
        The protestant population is over the peak and on a permanent decline which will have a steep decline each election from here on in as the over 65 protestant majority gradually declines and the catholic majority in the younger generations replace them.

  2. Brian Patterson July 31, 2016 at 9:22 am #

    Closely and cogently reasoned, I. However I object to the hackneyed and facile expression “bloated public sector”. We do not suffer here from too many teachers, social workers, NHS personnel . On the contrary the private sector here. On the contrary in spite of massive subventions by the taxpayerhas failed to deliver prosperity here.

    • jessica July 31, 2016 at 11:33 am #

      You may object Brian, but it remains a fact that needs to be addressed.

      The public sector in the north was used to create jobs and was used to subsidise the economy while Britain ran the conflict here.
      That is absolute and undeniable fact.

      This is from the Federation of Small Business website, and I am sure they would use the terminology lightly.

      “Looking at this, is it any wonder that Northern Ireland has such a bloated public sector, with 32% of all employee jobs in the public sector compared with 18% in the UK?”

      There isn’t another nation on this planet that will have public sector listed as one of its key industry sectors and sources of employment and it is most certainly not down to having too many doctors, nurses and teachers. It means our councils and civil servants are over employed. I know many who work in the civil service who to easy have it easy is an understatement.

      In fact I would say we have insufficient doctors and nurses due to the over employment in the bureaucracy end of the public sector in the north.

      Even now we have two many councils and this should have been reduced to 7. Even the assembly has far too many MLAs.

      As for the private sector, what economic growth we are experiencing is coming from small businesses, self employment and entrepreneurs yet almost all of the tax payers money being invested into the private sector is being spent on corporate business who are better able to deal with the jumping through hoops to get access to cash which they will spend on their own benefits more than long term commitment to Ireland. How many move to other areas where labour is cheaper after receiving grant aid?




  3. Antaine de Brún July 31, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    A moral, political, social or economic imperative is something that must be done because it is the right thing to do. If a Brexit is the right thing to do, why have its architects disappeared with such indecent haste? The mounting tensions within the Tory Party indicate the absence of any coherent plans in the wake of the referendum.

    In Ireland, much time, energy and money is wasted in the morass of political divisions. The referendum result ought to be regarded as an opportunity to exploit the obvious synergies in the country.

    Now is the time to wage war on poverty and educational underachievement. Now is the time to create the conditions in which healthy individuals can live in health promoting communities and enjoy decent work and living standards. Procrastination will perpetuate continued economic migration, stagnation, crime, alcohol and drug abuse.

    There is no time like the present to develop rational arguments and to test economic models designed to stimulate a prosperous economy. A veto on an economic, political all island initiative should not be the prerogative of any one individual, group or political party.

  4. Mark July 31, 2016 at 5:53 pm #

    Jessica, there’s a point which I suspect is purposely overlooked in the ‘public spending’ cost to the British revenue, notably, the cost of maintaining their troops in the occupied part of Ireland, in 2010 it was, I think, seven thousand albeit this has reduced, though they still harass people on the streets and our elected reps do damm all about it but, remove this aspect and their revenue commissioners instantly save a quarter of a billion, so, cost of the public sector becomes three quarters of what they estimate it to be, with fewer Gardai, yes, we need less of them too, we’d save even more so, probably taken another hundred billion off the bill, the cost to the Free State would be, well, probably a saving, no where can be administered without a public sector, and the Free State is substantially over subscribed.

    • jessica July 31, 2016 at 10:23 pm #

      The point that gets me, is that I genuinely believe that the north could be the wealthiest part of Ireland and help to totally transform public services throughout this whole island.

      We will always struggle while our country is divided and I mean both parts, neither can fulfil their potential with partition.

      Even official talks about unification would boost the economic growth in the north, and phasing it in would mean there would be no additional cost to the south until be make up the deficit which is already disappearing.

      It is becoming ludicrous that official talks are not taking place.

  5. Mark July 31, 2016 at 5:56 pm #

    sorry, that should have read hundred million.

  6. Scott July 31, 2016 at 10:49 pm #

    The problem with discussing the economic implications of reunification is that lets be honest we are all just armchair economists that scramble around Google and Wikipedia looking for numbers that support our positions. The HUGE complexities of the economics of it are frankly beyond mine or probably anyone else’s true abilities to come to a proper summary.

    While I do know that there has been a lot of doubt on the recent research white paper commissioned by SF, I take it at face value and find it helpful in trying to understand the economic implications. That being said however I don’t think that single piece of research can be considered the total gospel or only valid info.

    Id like to see several pieces of academic research on the subject. Perhaps to avoid any appearance of bias an agreement could be made were the ROI and UK governments, along with the EU, USA and IMF all publish independent research each and form a panel to come to a summary of there findings.

    • jessica August 1, 2016 at 8:34 am #

      Scott, the paper whether commissioned by Sinn Fein or not was simply an analysis of the data and the savings potential from merging two disparate administrations on one small island into a single entity. It highlighted the significant savings which are mainly from money currently being squandered in the north and also addressed the issues that would result from the loss of employment.

      The conclusions were also based on reasonable projections based on current stability and did not take into account potential issues such as brexit which is right to point out.

      This does not render the report invalid, in fact if it did not have such addendum it would have had less credibility for that very reason.

      Basically all this report is saying, is there would be substantial savings which would benefit both parts of this island in the long term from unification, but the immediate aftermath would require basically not quite austerity but sensible and conservative economic policies to be followed and not left wing socialism.

      If anything, Sinn Feins economic policies would not go along with the recommendations outlined in this report.

      While I may not have access to factual data and do use Google and internet search courses only, it does not take an economist to know unification would transform the economy of this island.

      That is a no brainer. The main issues are that to maximise the economic potential, the ideal situation would be an agreed Ireland that everyone could get behind.

      Without all party by in, it is impossible to predict outcome and in business terms you would avoid such risk.

      What this means is that all unionism has to do to prevent unification is refuse to play ball. However England is an astute nation that aims to be a leader in the global economy. Unionism in playing such crass games we can only hope will eventually fall foul of England and ruin the relationship they value most.

      There are a great many people who would be capable of making the northern economy the strongest on this island, but it is a non starter without political by in. I can assure you that it wont be any of our politicians in any part of this island that improves our economy or any economist. It is the business people behind them that make the difference and listening to the small businesses who earn the vast majority of a nations GDP.

      • Scott Rutherford August 1, 2016 at 7:53 pm #

        I’m not calling the report invalid Jessica, I’m simply saying one report is not the final word on what the economic consequences of reunification would be.

        I would like to hear from various goverment and international institutions who have more expertise in this subject. Hardly unreasonable I think.

        I mean this with all due respect, but I’m not going to believe that reunification will be 100% positive just because you say it’s a “no brainier”.

        • jessica August 1, 2016 at 10:21 pm #

          No report, no government and no international institutions can give us the final word on what the economic consequences of reunification Scott.

          What is a no brainer is that it will cost a lot less to have one administration covering a whole island economy than two administrations managing separate economies on one small island. And yes it is unreasonable to refute this for any reason.

          Reunification can only be 100% positive through agreement, unionism refuses to cooperate to see if that is possible so therefore no, it will not be 100% positive but it will happen none the less.

          • Scott August 2, 2016 at 12:31 pm #

            I’m not talking about a single report Jessica, I’m talking about the fact that I would like a collection of several reports in order to draw a rough picture of the consequences.

            Sorry continually repeating its a “no brainer” like some kind of mantra doesn’t make it so.

          • jessica August 3, 2016 at 9:34 am #

            It is a no brainer that there would be immense savings from having one all island administration instead of two.
            It would be ludicrous to suggest otherwise.

            As part of a border poll referendum we would have years of debate and many, many reports and opinions before we would have to make a decision.

            That is the only way to get the information you need Scott.

  7. Brian Patterson August 1, 2016 at 8:15 am #

    I don’t disagree with Jessica about bureaucracy in the public sector (or about the number of councils or MLAs; however Jessica you appear to miss the point that bureaucrats are generally brought in to e.g. the NHS to cut the numbers of frontline workers and hand swathes of it over to the private sector for profit. A large public sector is not an inverse indicator of prosperity as Norway, Sweden Denmark and Luxembourg prove. Please explain how further cosseting of the private sector here will boost the economy when there is bo evidence to show that it has worked to date.

    • jessica August 1, 2016 at 10:40 am #

      You seem to be focussed more in the British NHS Brian, whereas I would be more interested in transforming the health service in Ireland to suit our needs than trying fix something that is out of our control.

      I don’t think the British NHS has been cosseting the private sector, it has been unable to deliver because of ineptitude and bad management, poor relations between state and workers over the unaffordability of totally free health care in an ever aging population which will continue to decline until it is unsustainable.

      I don’t think it is worth even trying to fix because it is simply not sustainable but the Tories will decide that.

      I imagine in the long term it will be reformed with more privatisation paid for by employers so working people will benefit and those that don’t work will lose out.

      In terms of the public sector in the north, the over employment elements are not as I say in the health but in the civil services.

      I spent 6 years as a consultant mainly doing reports, audits and business continuity plans for councils and government departments all over Ireland, more technology focussed but the core business which is now owned by Capita was financial management and economics.

      I can tell you that the huge sums of money spent on consultancy was mainly due to the public services not able to do it themselves and having been allowed to run their departments and councils almost into the ground. We spent years in the water service in Belfast redoing years of poor and inefficient work.

      Even when they know what they want, councils and departments will still spend huge sums of money on public consultancy reports to recommend what they want, this is basically covering their asses for decisions they are paid to make so they have someone else to blame.

      But ignoring that, none of the countries you mention have anywhere near 32% of their total employment in public services. Northern Ireland has the highest level on the planet because it was used to subsidise the economy by a state running and managing a conflict. That is fact.

      The best way to manage public services is to have a reasonable % of GDP allocated to it.

      In the south, the huge % of GDP spent on public services are most definitely not value of money.
      On paper they are one of the more socialist left wing economies for this reason, yet they are run by a centre right government.
      It is simply bad management and poor leadership.

      The governments in Ireland are inneffective and have in the past been led by bankers and those more interested in corporate wealth while at the same time blowing vast amounts of taxpayers money to garner favour with the electorate.

      The European Central Bank and German imposed austerity are what has led to the economic growth and not good management. Ireland could do well to follow Iceland’s example of how to grow an economy without such harsh austerity. We have many similarities.

      I don’t believe in a totally free NHS and do not support it, nor does all of the nurses and front line staff who have been proposed fees for emergency services as a solution to the current problems.

      I also think the current proposals in the republic to pursue e-health services within post offices which will be transformed into social centres is an excellent innovative idea and would be keen to see how that works out.

  8. Brian Patterson August 1, 2016 at 8:24 am #

    Incidentally the Federation of Small Businesses is hardly representative of the community as a whole. Some of its statements would not look out of place in a UKIP election pamphlet.

    • jessica August 1, 2016 at 9:48 pm #

      The Federation of Small Businesses is representative of the businesses that pay into it and not the community as a whole that is correct Brian.
      I was unaware of any political opinions it held or that it even held any but is that really relevant?
      I would not be familiar with a UKIP election pamphlet either by the way, nor would I have any interest in one.
      I assume you are living in Britain and not in Ireland

      Were any of the statistics I posted inaccurate?

      Focussing more on the impact in Ireland, even England is refusing to pay for a public sector which is almost one third of the total workforce here any longer.

      The northern assembly has already borrowed 2bn to pay wages while they try to reduce it through natural wastage to avoid redundancies but the block grant will continue to be reduced each year whether we meet the targets set or not.

      That is 2bn not spent on upgrading our infrastructure, investment in jobs, economic growth or even in public services as there are 3 people doing 1 persons job in parts of the public services here.

      It is also 3 people who are paid more than similar private sector employee would be paid, with better holidays, employment terms and a pension all doing the work done by 1 person in most other public sectors.

      The longer we put this off the more it is going to cost us.

  9. Brian Patterson August 2, 2016 at 10:59 am #

    Where to begin? Well in the first place let me reassure you, Jessica, that I live in Ireland, Newry Co. Down to be precise. If I refer to the UKIP it is because we had a candidate for that odious grouping in my area in the last elections. It would be nice to think that they have nothing to do with us but, unfortunately, the campaign in which UKIP played a pivotal part took this part of Ireland out of the EU. At the very least UKIP tipped the balance for Brexit. Soof course I read their pamphlets. Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. And if I cite the NHS it is because it is perhaps, along with free education, the UK’S greatest transformative force for improvement in the lives of working-class and less well-off people.The retention of a free (at point of delivery) health service will be a huge consideration for, for example, young mothers in West Belfast or Newry who will have to decide whether they are willing to pay 60 euro every time they visit a GP or 100 euro to visit A and E if their child swallows a marble. A 2014 report by the highly respected Commonwealth Fund a Washington-based foundation found thaT the NHS was the best of 11 OECD healt systems it studied, scoring first in terms of quality access and efficiency. It outperformed the highly privatised US healthcare system by every indicator despite spending only 40 per cent of what its US counterpart did. The(26 county) Irish health system performs reasonably well; one study I quote from memory cited it as the second most cost-effective in Europe. I could criticise the last coalition in the 26 counties on many issues but I agree fully with James O’Reilly’s declared vision of “a universal single-tier health service based on need, not income”.
    I did not suggest that the private sector is unduly cossetted by the NHS. I do however object to privatisation of sectors of the health service, to PPI’s in building NHS hospitals, to the handing of the RVH car parking to a London Based private consortium.The cosseting I refer to includes grants and subventions to private businesses. The Ulster Bank in the six and twenty six counties is a subsidiary of the RBS. This private entity was bailed out to the tune of 34 BILLION pounds by the Tory government. Socialism for the rich?
    you challenge me to query any of your statistics. Well it gives me no great pleasure so to do but here goes. The public sector in the north is 28 per cent. This figure was given to me TODAY by Caroline Anderson of the DFE and please feel free to check. You say that none of the countries i mentioned have anywher near 32 percent public sector employees. While I cannot cite fgures for right this minute the following should serve as fair relative indicators. The figures are from the WHO.Denmark (2014) 31.1 per cent.Rep. of Ireland (2013) 24.7 Percent, Finland (2011) 24.4 per cent Norway (2014) 32.8 per cent Sweden (2014) 28.9 per cent. UK (2013) 23.5 per cent. I presume you were joking when you said that NI had the highest level of PS employment “on the planet”. Higher than Cuba(85 per cent) China (50 per cent) India (69 per cent)??!!

    Per Capita spending on health (in US dollars) is also interesting United Kingdom 3607 US 8553 Norway 9261 Sweden 5403 Switzerland 9254 Luxembourg 8391 France 4934 Germany 4992. Health care spending in the north of Ireland was1750 punds per capita, lower than Wales or Scotland but unsurprisingly higher than England with its lower birth-rate greater use of private healthcare and, possibly,overall healthier life stile.
    As regards the ageing population we need to take into account that while people are living longer they are also working longer and that technical innovation, improved treatment and more effective drugs have the potential to reduce costs.

    I take your point about managers but would suggest that more effective consultation with and participation by staff would reduce need for bloated consultants.Finally to your unsubstantiated assertion that “3 people are doing one person’s job” in parts of the public service i could assert by observation during my stay in Daisy Hill that many of the low paid cleaners are doing the work of 3 people as are our overworked nurses and doctors. Thank you for your thought provoking comments in this very civilised conversation. Beir bua.

    • jessica August 2, 2016 at 4:51 pm #

      Brian, first of all thank you for your corrections and the additional information you have provided.
      I am not professing to be an expert on any of this but we obviously both have strong opinions and I think it is a good thing that they are aired and shared and thought provoking is good I think. I am certainly also learning from your knowledge and hopefully something in my opinions may be of benefit if not to yourself then perhaps other readers frustrated like myself with lack of progress.

      While it may be the case that UKIP played a key role in getting the UK out of the EU, is that not what democracy is about?
      My preference would be that we leave the UK and remain in the EU only for as long as the people of Ireland wish to be part of it which I dont at least without the reforms the UK wanted. I am sure I feel as strongly against being in the UK as you do against being out of the EU.

      As for the british NHS. While I dont share your opinions of its greatness I will acknwledge it is or at least once was a world class health service.

      I am from a working class background, from a republican estate in Lurgan but I have never been unemployed a single day in my life since leaving school at 15.
      I never sat the 11+ but qualified for grammar school in 3rd year which I turned down to give to someone else as I had no interest at that time in school though I never struggled with it (didnt always show up and never did homework), I was just more interested in having a good time and earning money.

      I started off in a factory for over a decade in portadown, when in my late 20s I wanted more and was getting bored with the partying so decided to go back to education. I studied in evenings to get a HNC over 2 years and then used it to get onto the open university where I gained degree in computer science over the next 5 years. I had to pay for my education by the way – £1000 per year out of my own money. I assume there are conditions for this free education you refer to but I certainly had to pay my own way to gaining a degree,

      I then got a job in IT and worked my ass off for 7 years before getting employed as a technical consultant.

      By this stage I was doing ok and had private health care as part of the employment which I never really thought about until I took seriously ill with heart issues.

      I was messed about for weeks in the NHS during which I could barely get out of bed or move. Eventually they sent me to get an MRI but the machines was broke and it was going to be 6 weeks before I could get help. Only then did someone in work remind me we had private cover. I got an appointment in the ulster hospital next day, had the MRI and then had to wait less than an hour to have a private consultation with a senior doctor who had me in the royal that night and scheduled for surgery which saved my life.

      I would be dead if I have had not that private cover and I suppose that has influenced my opinion of the NHS.

      My preference would be a baseline cover for all as a safety net but with private cover for everyone working irrespective of their income which includes their next of kin.

      Anyone solely on benefits can choose to pay extra for the full cover or do without.

      Children should be free always.

      As for A&E. I would have a £10 fee for every visit, more to reduce the number of visits that are not needed than an attempt to pay for the service.
      This suggestion came from within the NHS A&E in Craigavon.

      Did James O’Reilly mention how he proposed to pay for his vision of “a universal single-tier health service based on need, not income”?
      I seriously doubt anything good will come from Fine Gael in this regard.
      It is all well and good to support wonderful ideas, but the people don’t need wonderful ideas, they need services that can deliver and if a single working person has full cover for his whole family, it also provides additional incentive for people to not live solely on welfare.

      You then mention the bank bail out of banks as socialism for the rich.

      I am not in disagreement with you, but I would be of the opinion that the EU played a role in leaving EU nations such as Greece and Ireland vulnerable over abuse of cheap borrowing which when the crisis hit left us totally exposed with a heap of ridiculously over priced mortgages.

      The EU is a corporate paradise designed to spread the costs of open borders among the working classes throughout all of the member states in order to feed the wealthy and we are talking sums that make the 34bn bank bailout paltry.

      While I was not challenging you and am not trying to b argumentative, please feel free to correct anything I say any time. I don’t have all the answers but I do have lots of questions and am not afraid to poke a stick in to get answers when needed. If you have them, I would be very grateful to hear them.

      Fair play to the cleaners in Daisy hill. I can tell you the cleaners in both Craigavon and Belfast Royal were not doing the work of three people when I was there.

      I also have a few nurses in my own family and while they and quite of a few of their colleagues are very hard working and dedicated, they will acknowledge themselves a growing number are lazy buggers.

      To keep thinking about the most needed services and the poorest people when considering the public sector cuts and efficiency savings needed is actually only going to keep the higher paid positions which are over allocated beyond need in place longer and results in those poorer positions becoming more and more disaffected with being asked to do more for less than the people I refer to that they know damn well are not needed.

      I would prefer you did not see our conversation as a challenge. When I say do you disagree with my facts, I don’t mean I think I am right and you are wrong, I mean if you think I have it wrong and may be basing my opinions on bad information, please point it out.

      That is how we learn when we don’t have time to study everything we want to know.

      I actually work long hours on top of the time I spend writing here.

  10. Brian Patterson August 3, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

    I think.we understand each other better Jessica. I certainly am no cheerleader for the EU and recognise that Britain’s leaving it was a democratic decision by the British people which I would respect. By no means everone in the leave camp was a racist although so.a certainly were. Equally I think that the decision of the majority in the six counties needs to be respected. The English/Welsh decision to quit may have the unintended effect of breaking the partitionist logjam here. I suggested in this forum during the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum that joint authority shared between Edinburgh Dublin and Belfast could be the way forward. Unfortunately the Scots decided to remain but it is in my opinion only a matter of time till they jump. I am delighted that a number of commentators are now suggesting closer links between Ireland (32 counties) and Scotland. I am sorry you had ill health and certainly do not blame you for ‘going private’. In your situation I would have done exactly the same. The NHS is a shadow of its former self. Successive administrations have used the age-old tactic of starving public bodies such as the NHS and then blaming them for their deficiencies. But the figures I have quoted relating to per capita expenditure on health would seem to prove that on a level playing field public service beats the profit motive in terms of value for money. It cannot be right that one’s income determines the quality of health or education one receives. How would a single tier efficient healthcare system be paid for? Through higher taxation of course. Tax cuts which disproportionately benefit the wealthy are a con trick on the lower paid and middle income groups who lose the few quid that have gained through increased transport, telecommunication,health and education costs, poorer public services and lower wages. Thank you for the very productive debate. I think in spite of all we agree on more than we disagree on. Slán tamaill.

    • jessica August 3, 2016 at 10:14 pm #

      I honestly don’t see how you think the public services anywhere in Ireland could be considered value for money.

      The biggest problem with free, is there is no accountability and there certainly isn’t in the British NHS.

      I am fully recovered now thankfully, but it was a virus that attacked my heart and damaged the outer lining leaving it so scarred it could barely beat.
      Apparently 1 in 10000 viruses do this (common flu virus) and 9 out of 10 recover fully so my lottery win was to be the 1 out of 10 from 1 in 10000.who got banjaxed.

      The outer lining of your heart apparently can be removed and mine was. A very rare procedure here but common in Africa where TB can calcify the lining.

      I was fortunate that a Nigerian doctor happened to be available in the royal at the time who had carried out this procedure many times in Africa and he fixed me up so I appreciate greatly the benefits of immigration as you can imagine.

      I am pro immigration but I do feel it needs to be points based, open to the whole planet, with limits based on genuine need not to be reduced just please racist elements as you rightly say there are but also not simply free movement within the EU to benefit corporate business which by excluding non eu citizens I find is discriminatory.

      With reform, I would be supportive of the EU and economic unions in general. If anything, the EU has proven beyond doubt that there are many benefits.

      I would have no real problems with a union between a sovereign Ireland and any nation including the EU, England, Scotland or whoever.

      Looking at the figures, whichever gets the best trade deal with the US would seem to be in our best interests

      Back to the NHS.

      It is hard to criticise a service which selflessly helps so many people, but it is far from perfect and struggling at the moment.

      Had I not had a private policy thanks to my employer, being from a working class background I never even considered it until the MRI was out of order within the NHS.
      I would not have survived the 6 weeks wait and that is a fact.

      That s way I mean about accountability in the NHS, There is none.

      It is perfectly acceptable to allow people to die over budgetary constraints.

      That is a problem you will always get with free.

      How many careless mistakes in the NHS have resulted in people dying, but no one in the NHS is sentenced for criminal careless behaviour resulting in these deaths, where in the private sector they would be. Another reason private care will always be superior to free public care in my opinion at least in the modern world.

      After 6 years in consultancy the company I worked for was bought over and I took the option of redundancy and used the 4K to start-up my own business.

      I now have 2 small companies each employing only around 10 people but growing and I plan to start another next year which is already registered.

      My father died when I was young of ill health but not before instilling a strong work ethic in me. My parents always said when I was growing up that we (Catholics) had to work twice as hard to have half as much and no matter what they do or say, never quit a job or not show up.

      I never did and not I feel I owe neither Britain or Ireland anything. I left school with 2 olevels, english, maths and nothing else, simply because I enjoyed them and probably paid more attention in those classes as I never did homework or studied and skipped classes quite a lot back then. I have worked hard for everything I have starting from nothing.

      I don’t want hand outs, it embarrasses me that northern Ireland is a charity case. I don’t want the state to lift me and lay me, but I do expect opportunities to be productive and use what brains we have been given to be innovative, productive and to help build something good for society.

      I don’t want a British NHS decided on by England, I want an Irish NHS that may or may not be single tier but will provide the highest standards possible for those willing to work and to make our nation prosperous.

      I agree there should be a safety net and no one be refused care but at the same time, we must reward those prepared to work, and I mean irrespective of income. The lowest paid employee should receive the same care as the wealthiest.

      I don’t disagree with any of your concerns Brian but as I say, it is usually somewhere in the middle and through compromise that we find the best solutions.

  11. Brian Patterson August 3, 2016 at 7:44 pm #

    “By no means everyone in the leave camp was a racist though some certainly were”