I WATCHED a programme on television recently where Protestants in the Republic were interviewed about their identity.
By far the vast majority regarded themselves as entirely Irish and were comfortable - indeed happy - with their identity.
It was refreshing to see such confidence and ease with their position in the nation - comfortable in their skin in spite of the current financial turmoil in the state. It was such a contrast with our schizophrenic, bad-tempered, identity wranglings in the north.
Bizarrely, if the Queen's visit is a success - as I hope - I wouldn't be surprised if she feels more fondly disposed toward Dublin and the south than toward our frustrating north.
Contrary to dissident republican claims, Britain would happily give up Northern Ireland if we would agree to go quietly.
The main thing stopping a united Ireland is that financial advantage and security rests decidedly with Britain and its subsidy. If that was reversed and we were guaranteed to be richer in an all-Ireland state, then enough Protestants would go for it.
The answer is simple, but difficult: the Republic must recreate the Celtic Tiger and become very rich - much richer than Britain (and securely so).
Then those Protestants who vote for the Union - chiefly in regard to their wallet - will accept their Irishness along with the extra income. A dozen entrepreneurs of the calibre of Bill Gates, or a gigantic oil-strike off the Irish coast, might just do it.
Portrush, Co Antrim