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Wealth will only come with a stable constitution

THE Establishment Press has a pipe dream of a stand-alone Northern Ireland on the island of Ireland, creating oodles of socio-economic wealth and with Protestants being nice to Catholics and vice versa.

This fantasy originates in the Establishment's observation of stable countries, like Sweden, Germany and England, where they see politics geared to the creation of socio-economic wealth. They mistakenly conclude that, if politics are geared to the creation of socio-economic wealth in Northern Ireland, it would be a country like those indicated.

What the Establishment fails to grasp is that Northern Ireland is unlike the countries indicated, in that it hasn't an agreed constitution – the sine qua non of socio-economic wealth creation.

Many years ago, when I was a student of economics at QUB, a popular exam question was, Why is England rich and Ireland poor?

It seems to me that an important part of the discussion was that, in 19th century England, the country's constitution was stable and agreed and a necessary condition for socio-economic wealth-creation was in place. In 19th century Ireland, the constitution was being disputed. In such circumstances, socio-economic wealth creation goes to the wall.

In the 21st century, the constitution in Northern Ireland is still being disputed and wealth creation will go to the wall, so the dreams of the Establishment will never come true.

MICHAEL GILLESPIE

By email

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