Editorial: Can a united Ireland help farmers North and South?


Today marks another milestone in the step towards a united Ireland and it’s a prospect that Ireland's farmers will gain from.

Editorial: Can a united Ireland help farmers North and South?

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Today marks another milestone in the step towards a united Ireland and it’s a prospect that Ireland's farmers will gain from.

Today marks another milestone in the step towards a united Ireland and it’s a prospect that Irelands farmers will gain from.

Senator Mark Daly’s 1000 page report is to be published later today and the base line notes are that a reunified Ireland will benefit the GDP of the whole island by €36.5 bn within the first 8 years.

Senator Daly spoke on RTE radio this morning about his plans and I listened with great enthusiasm. It’s something I’ve long thought of myself not least because of Brexit but because it’s a common sense move for Irish farmers. As farming goes we’re the same people North and South we face the same problems and issues and are both dependant on the world market for our exports in particular Britain.

Northern Farmers some of whom voted for Brexit have now felt the pinch of an unsupported future, this grantless world is something that farmers south of the border have argued cannot happen to our northern brothers and sisters. This reality would finish family farming in the 6 counties and as a result we are now talking about reunification perhaps sooner than many would have expected.

Senator Daly informed RTE’s Morning Ireland that he would fight for special designation status for Northern Ireland.

"There are a lot of areas where special designation status can be achieved. In relation to unionist farmers, we are fighting for them to continue to receive funding and subsidies. If funding goes down in relation to EU subsidies then the peace process is in jeopardy," he said.

If special designation can’t be granted which looks unlikely given the EU’s opposition to it at already this early stage then reunification is the only avenue to help keep northern farmers supported.

Fianna Fail

This is an issue I’ve wrote on before but it seems that bigger political parties, Daly is a Fianna Fail Senator, are now taking a serious approach to the benefits of a United Ireland.

Our farmers are in so many ways in the front line in this debate and battle, our mushroom sector was the first to feel the effects of Brexit and then our beef farmers who saw prices plung.

Our northern neighbours have been told that large scale farms need to be brought into place in order to survive a post Brexit UK something that they don’t want. Like climate change we farmers are the early warning barometers what happens to us first often indicates what will happen to all down the line.

Farmers in the north don’t want ranch farming, they don’t want farming without grants and they didn’t want to leave the EU.

So what about cross party agreement can unionists actually come to the table on this? Well it’s a tricky subject we need to understand that there are two Irelands; British Ireland and Irish Ireland and that in order for a reunified country to emerge we need to ensure that there is a place for British Ireland at the table indeed it needs to be enshrined in law.

The hurdle of ideology is one thing but the hurdle of economics is not so difficult for it comes down to simple common sense. A reunified Ireland makes more money for everyone.

The main benefit of the reunification would be to the North of the country with exports to rise by 5% and long term GDP per capita to increase by 4% - 7.5%.

Farmers in the North would be guaranteed EU farm payments beyond 2020 something that they currently aren’t.

It isn’t all one way either because GDP in the Republic could also rise by as much as €152m in the first year so it seems like a win win for everyone.

Senator Dalys report comes out later today and we’ll be joined on the That’s Farming Podcast next week by MEP Matt Carthy to talk about how this might all work out in greater detail. It’s an interview I’m really looking forward to make sure you tune in.

Farming needs all of us to work together and we need our northern farmers at the table with equal footing and rights.

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