Friday, April 18, 2008


All-Ireland economy emerging - Ahern

I welcome the comments today from outgoing Taoiseach Bertie Ahern who spoke at an SDLP themed event in Louth on "shaping an all-Ireland economy".

The Taoiseach stated that an all-Ireland economy was emerging and that this was an important step for the island's future. Ahern commented:

"In the boardrooms of the United States, Japan and elsewhere our unity of purpose is seen as a clear signal of our shared willingness to make progress."

The meeting comes a few days after Taoiseach-in-waiting Brian Cowen met with DUP's Finance Minister, and First Minister-in-waiting, Peter Robinson and announced plans to allow the Irish Financial Services Centre to locate some of its operations in the North.

Ahern's presence at the event has led to speculation that Fianna Fáil and the SDLP are about to merge, an idea that has been mentioned often in the past few years. Fianna Fáil have increased their interest in the North in recent times having established youth wing branches at Queen’s University in Belfast and the University of Ulster’s Magee campus in Derry. The party has also registered its name with the electoral authorities there.

The new chuckle brothers?

"Ya mind the odd tribunal, Mark?"

It's believed there's considerable support among the SDLP for a merger, however many in the party feel an affinity to the Irish Labour Party and as such a merger with Fianna Fáil would likely lead to a split.

So then it's hard to say what will happen but based on the Taoiseach's language, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of a union. Ahern commented:

"Working together I believe that Fianna Fáil and the SDLP will dramatically enhance the economic and social wellbeing of this island.

"Building on our strong legacy of co-operation and success, the future is very bright."

"Fianna Fáil and the SDLP are two pragmatic nationalist political movements which recognised that along with the provision of improved infrastructure, we must combine and co-ordinate policies."

Regardless of what Fianna Fáil and the SDLP decide to do though, I think it is of huge importance that we concentrate on building an all-Ireland economy and integrating the two political entities north and south as much as we possibly can.

If - or should I say when - the reunification of the country occurs, we will need to have a solid foundation to build upon to avoid a troublesome experience as happened with Germany when it reunified. I don't suspect Ireland would have such problems and the more economic harmonisation we see, the better equipped we will be for the demise of Partition.

I believe Irish unity will happen through making Partition an irrelevance for everyone here and that its grip on the island, which once felt as tight as a hangman's noose, will ultimately slip off as lightly as a gentleman's tie.

In the 21st century money talks - so let's continue talking money.


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