The constitutional future of the island of Ireland (Seanad submission)

The following is a consolidated document combining my written submission and subsequent spoken remarks to the Seanad public consultation committee. My name is Andrew Gallagher. I was born in Northern Ireland and grew up in a predominantly Unionist community, but I have lived south of the border for over fifteen years. I work as an… Continue reading The constitutional future of the island of Ireland (Seanad submission)



Last night's exit polls came as a shock, the scale of both the Conservative and SNP seat predictions almost beyond belief. The cold hard reality of the morning after has brought little comfort. Remainers must be commended for fighting to the end, but the good fight is now lost. The roller-coaster has crested the summit, and Boris Johnson's Brexit is now inevitable. If this truly was the Brexit Election, then the electorate have given their verdict. Continue reading...


A unitary state is more efficient, more equitable and arguably simpler in its daily operation; but the process of building one from two separate jurisdictions with a century of divergence would be complex, expensive and traumatic. A confederal state would be relatively cheap, fast and painless to construct, and could be done without creating any new government bodies; but it would not in itself address any long-term inefficiencies or structural inequalities.
There is a synthesis. Continue reading...

The escape hatch

There are some who argue that disruptive change is exactly what Northern Ireland needs, and I have sympathy for their position. It does sometimes seem that politics in NI is incurably dysfunctional, and this perception is the same one that motivates support for Direct Rule among Unionism. But just as Direct Rule from London has been ruled out as lacking balance, so must Direct Rule from Dublin. That leaves a unitary state, asymmetric devolution, and (con)federalism as the possible models of a new Irish state. So let’s give the options a test drive. Continue reading...

The nightmare scenario

Both the British and Irish Governments have this week warned their people of the dangers (however seemingly remote) of a no-deal Brexit. No doubt there have been junior staff on both sides beavering away in basements to plan for the possibility, whether or not their superiors took them seriously. And the probability of those contingency… Continue reading The nightmare scenario

The Rorschach Test

I argued in an earlier piece that the word "Unionism" should be handled with extreme care, because it has become overloaded with far too many overlapping yet inconsistent meanings. For slightly different reasons, we should also avoid using the phrase "United Ireland". "Unionism" refers to a collection of existing things that can, with effort, be… Continue reading The Rorschach Test

Would the real United Ireland please stand up? (Part 2)

I meant to continue the discussion from my previous post, but didn't get around to it. Making amends now... So we have outlined a "Minimal United Ireland" - one that I suspect most nationalists would hold is undeserving of the name. Nevertheless, from a technical point of view I believe it is valid, and therefore… Continue reading Would the real United Ireland please stand up? (Part 2)

Would the real United Ireland please stand up?

I see there's a fresh Sinn Féin campaign for a United Ireland. I seem to have missed the bit where they trot out the usual "32-county socialist republic" rhetoric. Together with an ongoing discussion on Slugger, sparked by Mack taking issue with one of my previous posts, I've been led to consider what people actually… Continue reading Would the real United Ireland please stand up?