‘Sure we’re grand the way we are’ by M O’Dubhtaigh

One of the most common (and lazy responses) I get when the issue of Irish unity is brought up is “The south don’t want us” or “We are better off as part of the UK”. 

Generally the “free” healthcare system in the North is used to substantiate this lazy assertion that we are better off in the UK. Another point made is that a huge number of people in the North are employed by the civil service. The South wouldn’t want to take on this responsibility and civil servants wouldn’t want to risk losing their jobs. 

My counter argument to the healthcare system claim is that it is not a “free” healthcare system, as we pay significant national insurance contributions each month. Furthermore it is a two-tier healthcare system and many people (including myself) have had to go private or take out health insurance due to the atrocious waiting times and years of underfunding by the Tories. Whilst in theory I think the NHS is a remarkable idea, in practice it is far short of the model it should be. Sadly, I think it will only get worse post-Brexit with the Tories in charge. Still, this notion of the NHS being a perfect or at least better system than the South still exists by a lot of people.

In respect of the contention that we would be a burden to the South and civil servants may lose their jobs in a united Ireland, my counter argument is that public services still need to be provided for in the North, so why would all those jobs just disappear? It would be 32 counties contributing taxes for all 32 counties, not 26 counties paying for 32 counties. Plus there would be the benefits of not paying taxes towards the English monarch and significantly less military expenditure.

Another argument used is that there would be “trouble” from loyalists if a border poll ever came to pass, and even talk of a border poll is divisive. This is a frustrating stance as the Good Friday Agreement paved the way to obtain a united Ireland through peaceful and democratic means. No doubt there will be a small number of loyalists who would cause a little trouble but they would not benefit from collusion with the British Army this time round, so any trouble in my opinion would be on a small scale and short lived. 

Whilst I am excited by the prospect of a United Ireland, I do get dismayed by the amount of small ‘n’ nationalists who seem to come up with excuse after excuse to maintain the status quo. I do find it disheartening. I believe achieving a united Ireland can be won by convincing people in our day-to-day lives and opening the conversation. 

I welcome any comments or advice to further this debate so we can persuade small ‘n’ nationalists or those on the fence that a united Ireland is in the best interests of this island.

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