Like just about everything else in relation to a united Ireland, the economics is hotly contested. Much of the debate centres on support for Northern Ireland from the UK exchequer – and the potential cost to the Republic of replacing this. Underlying this is a deeper issue: the underperformance of the Northern Ireland economy in recent decades, even since the Belfast Agreement, with the absence of an expected economic “peace dividend”. Addressing this would require major investment and again raises the question – who pays?
Brexit, opposed by a majority of Northern Ireland’s voters, has put the future of the island economy firmly back on the agenda. Prof Katy Hayward of Queen’s University says Brexit has made the Irish unity question more “live” as an issue.