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North-South dialogue is good – but UK’s new border plan is a reminder of the complex truth

John Downing


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Taoiseach Micheál Martin addresses the Shared Island initiative yesterday. Photo: Julien Behal

Taoiseach Micheál Martin addresses the Shared Island initiative yesterday. Photo: Julien Behal

Taoiseach Micheál Martin addresses the Shared Island initiative yesterday. Photo: Julien Behal

That old macabre Belfast joke about, er, religious diversity does comes to mind. Asked the automatic dreary question, an elderly man proclaims: “But I’m Jewish!” His interlocutor is not remotely fazed: “Yeah, but are you a Protestant Jew or a Catholic Jew?”

We now know that 15pc – that’s more than one in seven people – living on the island of Ireland come from a different and non-Irish ethnic background. Surely, it is long past time to change the 400-year-old sectarian record and broaden the often sterile debate to include a more diverse group who can help us discuss how we might frame the future on this island in rapidly changing times.


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