Belfast Telegraph

Cost of a united Ireland doesn't add up says DUP's Simon Hamilton after report claims reunification would financially benefit everyone

By Gareth Cross

Former Finance Minister Simon Hamilton has warned that those making an economic case for a united Ireland are gambling on "wishful thinking".

The DUP Strangford MLA's comments follow discussions this week based on a report entitled 'The Economic Effect of an All-Ireland Economy'.

The report from financial journalist Paul Gosling says that Brexit could damage the Northern Ireland economy in many ways, including reducing wages and jobs.

It found that "north-south economic integration would generate substantial benefits for all of the island" and that "there is a significant positive potential economic benefit from Irish reunification, particularly for the citizens of Northern Ireland."

The report called for preparations to begin towards achieving an all-Ireland economy and produced a ten point plan for how Irish reunification might be achieved.

However, Mr Hamilton said that the report was fraught with difficulties.

“This report was published earlier in 2018 but this week at the West Belfast Festival, it received renewed focus. Previously, Gerry Adams has called the report 'common sense'," the Strangford MLA said.

"Behind some of the claims that 'everyone’s a winner' in this united-Ireland however there lies a reliance on supposition and wishful thinking to build a case.

"Looking at just some of the issues included in the report’s ‘Ten Point Plan’ sheds some light on the strength of the case put forward.

"The report assumes:

Continued UK government subvention to Northern Ireland for approximately thirty years.

An immediate £10billion contribution to infrastructure by the UK government.

The UK government will continue to fund pension costs."

Mr Hamilton said that reunification would cost thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland.

"Interestingly, the report does not dwell too long on its view that 50,000 public sector workers in Northern Ireland would have to be made redundant. However even in this area it expects the United Kingdom Exchequer to bear all the costs," he said.

"All these highlight the lack of substance behind many of those who claim a united-Ireland is some kind of inevitability. We cannot be complacent however and must continue putting forward a positive case for the Union."

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