A unified Irish Economy

Table 1. Output of RoI & NI economies, in local currencies and in PPPs terms

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Table 1. Output of RoI & NI economies, in local currencies and in PPPs terms

Actual GVA in local currency, bn

In equivalent currencies (PPPs), bn







Source, CSO, ONS, OECD, author’s calculations

From the perspective of all enterprises in RoI, whether in the private or the public sectors, the size of the home market would increase by 25% with Irish reunification. For enterprises in NI it would increase fourfold.

This snapshot of economic output does not take account of the likely impact on the growth rate of both economies for reunification, where the NI economy could be projected to lead the way, in a process of ‘catch-up’. The degree of underperformance of the NI economy is both chronic and acute. According to the ONS, real GVA contracted by 5.4% between 2008 and 2012, making the NI economy one of the ‘crisis’ economies of the EU. This follows decades of relative economic decline.

The element of catch-up within the process of reunification could provide a very large impulse to growth across the island. This is what occurred to the RoI following Partition, with the major fillip coming from EU investment in the 1980s and 1990s. Fig.1 below shows the relative performance of three economies since Partition. Prior to partition per capital GDP in what became the RoI was a fraction of the level on both Britain and in NI but is now the highest of the three and significantly above that of NI. This indicates the potential degree of ‘catch-up’ that might reasonably be expected towards RoI per capita GDP levels, which would have beneficial effects across the island in terms of growth for all enterprises and consequent prosperity.

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