United Ireland would see push to 'reduce Irish language'

The EU could be a positive influence in such a scenario, but that may also present problems
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.03 22 Mar 2022

Share this article

United Ireland would see push...

United Ireland would see push to 'reduce Irish language'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.03 22 Mar 2022

Share this article

The editor of one newspaper in Northern Ireland says he believes people have not thought about what a united Ireland would mean.

Ben Lowry, editor of the Belfast Newsletter, says he and others would tour the country - informing people of the impact such a move would have

He told The Hard Shoulder the first thing to go would be a reliance on the Irish language.


"A lot of this isn't seemingly thought through - it's always about a conversation, and a new Ireland.

"Is anybody in the Republic thinking about how somebody like I would approach it?

"I - if it came to that scenario - would be saying, and encouraging other people, to start touring the 26 counties and saying 'Do you really want this to happen? Do you want the radical reform that we will be campaigning towards?'

"One of the first things unionists would be campaigning towards would be reducing the reliance on the Irish language.

"There's all sorts of things that are coming through, and arguments to be made the other way that aren't being made."

Role of the EU

He also says the unionist point of view is not being included in the debate.

"I think we have to be realistic in the United Kingdom, that having left the European Union it is a different scenario.

"And if the European Union decides that it wants to stand by the aspirations of a member state - the Republic of Ireland - then the UK is shut out of that."

But he says if any lobbying were to happen by the EU, the UK would likely fight back.

"I think the UK then would be also within its rights to say 'Let's go and lobby various countries within Europe that might have a problem with this'.

"Spain is not very keen on secessionists - indeed Spain does not say the Basque country or Catalonia that they can go with the 50%+1 vote.

"And they might not like the European Union advocating a split up of the UK".

While Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan, says the EU will certainly have a role to play.

"It is quite evident that the European Union will have a role in all of this.

"We have - what I would consider to be - a very advantageous situation, where the EU has readily agreed that in the event of reunification that the whole country will remain part of the European Union.

"That's something, I can tell you, that Scottish independence campaigners would give their right arm to have that type of assurance".

He says the view is that Brexit has made such a move easier.

"Prior to Brexit, we had a situation where essentially the situation in the North was at conflict - for want of a better term - between two member states.

"The circumstances have changed very much so... there is one member state that... has a Constitutional aspiration to achieving the reunification of our country.

"This isn't - in the short-term - about the EU taking sides, necessarily, this is about the EU being part of the conversation.

"But it is very much about the EU setting out what supports - whether that be financial, diplomatic or otherwise - the EU can provide to assist with a smooth transition".

A poll back in May 2021 found that 67% of people in the Republic were in favour of a united Ireland.

However, it suggested more people in the North wanted to stay in the UK than leave - with just 35% backing a merger with the 26 counties, compared to 43% against.

The poll showed only one in five voters across the 32 counties on the island would be prepared to pay more tax to fund a united Ireland.

In the Republic, only 22% of people said they'd be happy to pay more tax - compared to 54% who wouldn't.

In Northern Ireland, meanwhile, 63% said they wouldn't pay a higher tax.

United Ireland would see push to 'reduce Irish language'

00:00:00 / 00:00:00


Share this article

Read more about

Belfast Newsletter Ben Lowry EU European Union Irish Language Matt Carthy The Hard Shoulder United Ireland

Most Popular