Working towards Irish Unity



Photo: @IrishUnity
Photo: @IrishUnity

Want a United Ireland? Then go out and vote for parties that support one

There’s something of an irony about Northern Ireland’s local elections taking place two weeks after the rest of the UK’s.

So enraptured would municipal vote counters be with the King’s Coronation – so the argument goes – that they could not be expected to count votes AND organise communal screens for the Big Event 24-hours later.

Unlike every other council in the UK, which managed to do so perfectly well.

Once again, Unionists want Northern Ireland to be treated just like the rest of the UK – up and to the point that they do not.

In the event, just 15,000 people across Northern Ireland watched the Coronation on the big screens – about 0.07% of the population.

However, I digress. 

These elections are the third in a row that will show the electoral gap between pro-United Irelanders and pro-UKers is now but a whisker’s difference.

Forget the opinion polls, which, depending on the methodology, are either pretty accurate, or hopelessly inaccurate in measuring support for constitutional change.

These are actual votes. 

In fact, these are the last set of elections – Westminster, assembly and locals – where Unionism will be able to command a majority of the overall vote. 

Nationalists will edge it in subsequent years, making the holding of a border poll all but academic.

Demographic changes, particularly due to the composition of the emerging electorate in schools, will see to that.

Catholic/Protestant enrolment rates are currently running 50-33% – so it’s a reasonable bet that today’s 14-year-olds might make all the difference in the next assembly election.

But, in terms of tomorrow, it looks likely that Sinn Fein will edge it as largest party.


Hugely symbolic, although Unionists will win a plurality of the vote. 


But pro-United Irelanders can help themselves here.

Under Northern Ireland’s Single Transferable Vote (STV) system of preferential voting, the transfers will decide which parties win.

In recent elections, many United Irelanders have voted for Alliance, mainly to vote against Unionists in their local area.

Now, Alliance is full of lovely people, but by ignoring the immediacy of constitutional change, the party is being deceitful.

Disingenuous, certainly.

So why give them a vote without them earning it? 

Sinn Fein, SDLP, Aontú

and People Before Profit are all explicit United Ireland-supporting parties. 

They have different analyses about how this is achieved and what it would mean, but they are plain in their desire to see it happen. 

The obvious point? Vote for your favoured party and transfer to others that help to maximise the pro-United Ireland share of the vote.

Every election from hereon will be seen as a proxy referendum on Irish unity.

If you want a united Ireland, go out and vote for parties that explicitly support one.

It’s that simple.

Kevin Meagher is author of A United Ireland: Why Unification is Inevitable and How it will Come About (Amazon) and What A Bloody Awful Country: Northern Ireland’s Century of Division (Biteback Publishing)