Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Economically, the United Kingdom has been a disaster for all the people of Northern Ireland
If we go back to 1920, 80% of the industrial output of the entire island of Ireland came from the three counties centered on Belfast. This was where all Irish industry was. It was industrial and innovative; northern entrepreneurs and inventors were at the forefront of industrial innovation. By 1911, Belfast was the biggest city in Ireland, with a population of close to 400,000, which was growing rapidly. It was by far the richest part of the island. Fast-forward to 2016 and the collapse of the once-dynamic Northern economy versus that of the Republic of Ireland is shocking. Having been a fraction of the North's at independence, the Republic's industrial output is now 10 times greater than that of Northern Ireland. Exports from the Republic are €89bn while from the North, exports are a paltry €6bn. This obviously reflects the presence of multinationals, but it also underscores just how far ahead the Republic's industrial base is. The total size of the Republic's economy is now four times that of the North, even though the labor force is not even two and a half times bigger. In terms of income per head, the Republic is now almost twice as rich per person as the North. The average income per head in the Republic is €39,873, while it languishes at €23,700 up North. The differing fortunes of North and South can be easily seen in the fact that, having been smaller than Belfast at the time of partition, the population of the greater Dublin area is now almost three times bigger than the greater Belfast metropolitan region.