Sinn Féin admits thousands of jobs will go if Ireland unites
Sinn Féin has admitted that thousands of public sector jobs could be lost if there was a United Ireland.
An internal party document says reunification will "of course" lead to "efficiencies in public services" as agencies North and South are merged.
The concession that jobs will be lost will be of major concern to around 200,000 people who work in the public sector in Northern Ireland and more than 300,000 such staff in the Republic.
The draft document entitled 'Irish Unity - An Activist's Guide' has a series of questions and answers under a heading 'How to have a conversation about Irish unity'.
One question posed is: "Will a lot of public sector workers lose their jobs if Ireland is re-united?" The answer reads: "Of course a United Ireland will lead to efficiencies in public services as we will no longer have two separate agencies dealing with each and every task of government."
It adds: "But already, North and South, we have public service requirements that are not being met. Irish unity creates the potential to address these shortcomings in public services, ensuring that we can deliver better outcomes to communities and families as well as benefit from the elimination of duplication. Public sector planning is one of the pieces of work that needs to start now."
The document says that keeping the same flag and anthem are "issues that will have to be debated". It adds that "emblems and symbols are important, however we need to be open to new ideas that cater for the two main traditions on the island, and we shouldn't allow these issues to hold back Irish unity."
On whether or not the Republic can afford reunification, the document claims that a 2015 study by "independent economists and political scientists" found that unity would boost the economy in the whole of Ireland.
It also poses the question on whether there will be extra taxes to replace the billions in subsidy provided to the North by London and claims the "increase in economic growth post-unity, the need for any subvention, would disappear".
It also includes sections on the Good Friday Agreement as the "peaceful and democratic pathway to Irish Unity" as well as Brexit.
Details of the document emerged as Sinn Féin held a think-in meeting in Cavan where party leader Mary Lou McDonald predicted that there will be a unity referendum.
She said: "We need to ensure that it is conducted in an informed and respectful way, and we must set out to win it."