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What will it take to unite Ireland? Opinions are divided

Brendan O’Leary’s Making Sense of a United Ireland is an impressively researched contribution to the debate, while Malachi O’Doherty’s Can Ireland Be One? is perhaps too pessimistic

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Marching towards a new future: The Protestant community in the North is now outnumbered by Catholics. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Marching towards a new future: The Protestant community in the North is now outnumbered by Catholics. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

In his book, Malachi O’Doherty reflects on whether there is any way of fixing Northern Ireland and making it satisfying to everyone

In his book, Malachi O’Doherty reflects on whether there is any way of fixing Northern Ireland and making it satisfying to everyone

Making Sense of a United Ireland by Brendan O’Leary

Making Sense of a United Ireland by Brendan O’Leary

Can Ireland Be One? by Malachi O’Doherty

Can Ireland Be One? by Malachi O’Doherty

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Marching towards a new future: The Protestant community in the North is now outnumbered by Catholics. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

There are those for whom Northern Ireland is a geographical fragment of the UK holding true to empire on its western flanks, and those for whom partition is a century-old wrong that must be overturned. Somewhere in the middle are the persuadables — people willing to accept either unity or union, so long as the justification is logical. One way or another, the unity conversation is in the air.

The recent Northern Irish census results, which showed Catholics outnumber Protestants, moves the debate up a gear. It doesn’t matter in the sense of one bloc replacing another, especially in an increasingly secular society, but because it acts as an indicator of people being open to constitutional change. Equally, it is clear the union can only continue with nationalist and non-aligned consent.


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