Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams: United Ireland makes economic sense and is affordable - 'It's no longer a matter of if but when'

By Gareth Cross

Former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has rejected claims that a united Ireland would hurt Northern Ireland economically saying that everyone on the island of Ireland would benefit from unity.

The Louth TD said that Irish unity was now a matter of "almost daily conversation" and that a successful unity referendum was inevitable.

However Mr Adams did concede that "there is much work to be done" to persuade unionists and some nationalists of the benefits of a united Ireland.

Writing in his blog, the long-time Sinn Fein stalwart said that Northern Ireland's financial reliance on Britain was often falsely used as "misinformation to defend the union with Britain".

He also pointed to reports published by Professor Kurt Huebner entitled 'Modeling Irish Unification' and 'Northern Ireland's Income and Expenditure in a Reunification Scenario,' by a German economist at the time of German reunification, Gunther Thurmann and Fianna Fail Senator Mark Daly.

Professor Huebner's report said that unification 'could bring  in €36.5bn in eight years’ while Mr Thurmann and Senator Daly's report claimed that Northern Ireland could come close to a balanced budget after unification, before looking at potential benefits.

Mr Adams said that Northern Ireland would not lose out due the removal of a £10bn deficit in the block grant from Britain, as the grant did not tell the whole story of Northern Ireland's financial situation.

"The British Government claims that it allocated £24bn of public spending to the north for the year 2015-16. This figure is used by political unionism and others to argue that there is a £10bn deficit," Mr Adams wrote.

"Of this £24bn figure £3.7bn is spent on British defence, overseas representation, and debt. This spending does not relate to the north. It is a matter for the British state and is not our debt. That leaves £20.3bn.

"The British Government estimates revenue generated within the north at £16.7bn. That means that the gap between what is spent and what is raised in the north is closer to £3.6bn."

The Louth TD said that real deficit was actually much smaller than claimed.

"In addition British Government Departments claim that they spend 1.8bn of this on the north. Aspects of this spending may or may not be considered to be essential. It is Sinn Fein’s position that this spend cannot fully be considered to be local debt until it is devolved to local budgets," Mr Adams wrote.

"Therefore the local spending deficit - which is the difference between the amount of money spent and raised in the north by the Executive and local authorities - is £1.8bn. To summarise, based on official British Treasury information the fiscal deficit in the north is at most in the range of £1.8bn to £3.6bn."

Mr Adams wrote that a united Ireland would receive benefits from being a sole European Union member.

"In the context of Irish unity, in which the entire island is part of the EU, where the additional costs relating to the duplication of services are ended and with Irish control of our economic strategies, investment and growth, it is clear that Irish unity makes economic sense and is affordable," wrote the former Sinn Fein President.

"It’s all to play for. Achieving a referendum on Irish unity is no longer a matter of if but when. Winning that referendum and creating a new, shared Ireland inclusive of every citizen who lives on this island is similarly no longer a matter of if but when."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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