One of the central arguments for a united Ireland used to be demographics. The idea was that the supposed higher fertility rate of Catholics, in comparison to Protestants, in Northern Ireland would lead inexorably to an eventual Catholic majority and, QED, a united Ireland. Sounds terribly stereotypical, doesn't it?
Crude breeding prejudices aside, a Life and Times survey - carried out between October and December last year using a sample of 1,205 interviewees - found that only 33% of Catholics want a united Ireland, with 52% wanting to stay in the UK. Nine out of 10 Protestants wanted to keep the union with Britain. Overall, 73% of all those surveyed, irrespective of religion, wanted the status quo to remain.
In the same survey back in 1998, the year of the Belfast Agreement, only 19% of Catholics were in favour of staying in the UK, with 49% wanting a united Ireland. That's some shift in only 13 years, and shows how much the peace dividend has paid off in that time... despite the best efforts of lumpens on both sides to turn the clock back to the days of the Troubles.
It also makes you wonder if many of the respondents who would have considered themselves nationalist 13 years ago have been looking at the shenanigans taking place down here, during and after, the Celtic Cod years?
How many are now contemplating the economic hardship ordinary Irish citizens will have to endure for their entire lives - all thanks to stupidity, cronyism and bad government? Maybe they have concluded that the 90-year independence experiment has been an abject failure?
They are lucky. It is hard to see things changing for the better any time soon down here - at least those Northerners can be thankful they are not part of it.
I think the demographic number crunchers might have some wait yet.
Life and Times Survey, 2010
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