The concept of a “United Ireland” is the proposition that the whole of Ireland should be a single sovereign state. Since the Brexit vote the likelihood of a United Ireland has increased. The dream of a reunification of Ireland has a long history. The Brexit debate has revived it. The focus of this post is on unraveling of some of the contexts which make it easier for outsiders to understand the concerns of pro-United Ireland proponents.
The partition of Ireland
The partition of Ireland goes back to the Anglo-Irish Agreement of December 1921, which sealed the Irish War of Independence and divided the country into two parts, the Independent Free State (26 counties) and 6 counties in Ulster, which continued to belong to the United Kingdom and are referred to as Northern Ireland. It was a fragile peace. Beyond the surface the old conflicts continued.
The Northern Ireland conflict in the late 1960s
Time leap. From 1969 on violent clashes erupted in the Northern Irish city of Derry, on the border with the Republic of Ireland, downplayed as “The Troubles”. British troops were sent to Northern Ireland, On “Bloody Sunday” (1972) British soldiers shot 28 unarmed civilians during a peaceful protest march. “Bloody Sunday” was one of the most significant events of “The Troubles”. The Good Friday Agreement (April 10, 1998) ended the violent phase of the Northern Ireland conflict. Since then, the 300-miles border between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland has been open, thanks also to the EU membership of both countries.
The Situation Today
In case of a Brexit, the Irish Republic would remain in the EU. Northern Ireland would leave the EU. Proponents of a United Ireland try to prevent this. Sinn Fėin, the Irish Republican Party and the only political party which is active in both the north and south, is trying to draw attention to the economic benefits of a United Ireland.
At the moment (end of 2018) everything is pending, all options are in reach.
“Brexit cause surge in support for United Ireland.” The Independent (8 June 2018).