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DUP slams report claiming Northern Ireland would be better off in united Ireland

By John Downing

Published 22/03/2016

Study: Dr Kurt Hubner
Study: Dr Kurt Hubner

The DUP has rubbished a report suggesting that Northern Ireland would be better off in a united Ireland as "Gerry Adams-style economics".

The new international report argues that the economy of a united Ireland would grow in GDP by €32.5bn (£25.4bn) in the first eight years after reunification.

But workers' incomes and economic development would grow more dramatically in what is now Northern Ireland, the Canadian experts said.

The report - led by academics at the University of British Columbia - deployed economic models used to examine German reunification in 1990 and potential scenarios to reunify North and South Korea.

It has been billed as the first comprehensive simulation of political and economic integration and finds significant benefits and savings for people on both sides of the border.

While pay would go up most north of the border, the Republic would also benefit from better market access and better economies of scale for investments.

The report is entitled Modelling Irish Unification and it stresses that, politics aside, the merits of partition may again come into focus if British voters decide to leave the EU in the vote on June 23.

The study pointedly avoids political choices and also makes the perhaps unlikely assumption that there would be a smooth political transition to an all-Ireland political and economic entity.

The simulation identified many benefits for Northern Ireland from the removal of currency differences based on an assumption that it would join the Eurozone along with the Republic. It would also benefit from trade and tax barriers which currently impede economic growth, while the Republic would get barrier-free access to markets in Northern Ireland.

However, the DUP disputed the findings. East Antrim DUP MLA Gordon Lyons said: "This sounds like Gerry Adams-style economics and has all the same credibility.

"Support for the Union has never been higher in Northern Ireland because people see the value of our NHS and being part of one of the world's largest economies, as well as many other positives of being in the United Kingdom."

Project director Dr Kurt Hubner said a successful currency devaluation for Northern Ireland and successful industrial development generally should deliver a successful unification. He cautioned that political friction in Ireland on the issue or global economic shocks could change that optimistic outlook.

"Our study underlines the potential of political and economic unification when it is supported by smart economic policy," Dr Hubner said.

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