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Should there be a united Ireland?
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It would disrupt the hard-won peace

A united Ireland is the most likely way the Troubles may restart and avoiding this should be a key priority for all
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The Good Friday Agreement created a peace that has lasted for more than 20 years in Northern Ireland after decades of violence. This took a huge amount of work and sacrifices, especially to ensure it continues. Almost everybody in Northern Ireland recognises that this peace has been a huge improvement over life in the Troubles and thus we should do what we can to preserve it.

The Argument

A united Ireland would be the single event most likely to disrupt this peace. The Troubles were caused by mistreatment of Catholics in a Protestant Northern Ireland and Protestants will fear a similar situation in the event of unification. Loyalist paramilitary groups have made their fears of a united Ireland extremely clear and have the means to take violent action, especially as their numbers swell due to a large number of disillusioned unionists. If this occurs, republican paramilitaries are likely to respond, bringing Northern Ireland back to where it was during the Troubles.

Counter arguments

Lessons have been learned from the Troubles and the Good Friday Agreement and these can be taken to help ensure peace in a United Ireland. The Troubles started because of inequality between Protestants and Catholics under a Protestant Northern Irish parliament which denied many Catholics - and working-class Protestants - basic human rights such as housing. This does not have to be the case. If a framework can be devised which includes protections to ensure all groups are fairly represented and their human rights are protected, a united Ireland can be a peaceful nation. Violence against civilians and profiling from security forces was also a key reason for the escalation of the Troubles. Again, lessons can be learned from this and a softer, cross-community approach such as that of the PNSI can be followed to police Northern Ireland rather than the tactics of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The Good Friday Agreement and prior agreements also provided a framework for peace. One key feature of the Good Friday Agreement was a power-sharing government and a 'decision-making by consensus' approach. This can be applied in a united Ireland to ensure unionists feel democratically represented. In the same way that all-Ireland institutions were set up as part of the peace process, British/Irish institutions could be set up in a United Ireland.


[P1] Every measure must be taken to ensure there is peace in Northern Ireland [P2] A united Ireland may disrupt this peace [P3] Therefore, Northern Ireland should remain in the UK

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Continued partition may be a greater threat to peace than a united Ireland


This page was last edited on Friday, 6 Dec 2019 at 15:42 UTC

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