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Economic case to be made for a united Ireland

Pat Doherty, Grace McDermott, and Barry McElduff, talk tactics ahead of Saturday's debate in the Strule Arts centre.  MC 28

Pat Doherty, Grace McDermott, and Barry McElduff, talk tactics ahead of Saturday’s debate in the Strule Arts centre. MC 28

THE entire population of a united Ireland would see the economic benefits, economist Michael Burke has said.

Speaking ahead of an appearance at the Strule Arts Centre on Saturday for a debate on a united Ireland, the former senior international economist with Citibank in London, has provided a comprehensive case for what he says is the only way for the North to break from a stagnated economy.

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The London-based expert will join a number of unionists and local proponents of a united Ireland for the Saturday morning debate. Organised by Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff, ‘A United Ireland is inevitable: Discuss’ gets underway at 9.30am in the arts centre.

DUP MLA Tom Buchanan, independent unionist MLA John McCallister and Irish language activist Linda Ervine are also set to take part. They will join solicitor Pat Fahy and Irish language activist Sinéad Ní Mhearnóg.

‘HUGE OPPORTUNITIES’

Speaking to the Ulster Herald this week, Mr Burke has become one of the leading proponents of the counter-argument that a united Ireland would collapse under the burden of the ‘subvention’ the North receives from the British Treasury.

“In general, in all matters of economics, one tends to hear the cost associated with something. But like any investment or balance sheet, there are two sides to the argument. There are huge opportunities associated with unifying the Irish economy,” he said.

Describing Northern Ireland economy as “one of the crisis economies in Europe”, he said, “It is not as bad as Greece, but it is worse than Portugal and worse than the Republic by far and there are no signs of any strong pick-up in the way there are in the Republic.”

THE ‘SUBVENTION’ ARGUMENT

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Michael BurkeMr Burke, also criticises the argument that a united Ireland could not cope because of the loss of a massive ‘subvention’ from the UK public purse.

The subvention is the annual gap between public revenue and expenditure in Northern Ireland.

He claimed that the argument rests on “gross distortion”, while “completely ignoring the growth potential of a unified economy”.

He said figures such as a £10 billion subvention were “plucked from the air”.

“I have completed research which has demolished that. It is based on nonsense data,” claimed the economist.

“Any deficit that does exist is a function of a long-term economic failure. The people who talk about subvention were talking about it 20 -30 years ago and there has been no-one else in charge of economic policy during the entire period. So the failure is laid squarely at their door.

“They haven’t been able to develop the Northern Ireland economy and given the current structures, nor will they be able to.

“It’s only a united Ireland economy that can break out of that stagnation by providing long-term prosperity.”

Registration for ‘A United Ireland is inevitable: Discuss’ gets under way at 9.30am on Saturday. The event is expected to run until 11.30am.

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