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Dublinís third string of the bow

A united Ireland or subsidising partition?

4 March 2024

Eamon Ryan, Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin announce funding for cross-border projects.

Leo Varadkar announced on February 20th "nearly €1 billion" for "the largest ever package of Government funding for cross-border initiatives".

The package includes €600 million to the A5 upgrade in Derry, €50 million for the redevelopment of Casement Park "to maximise" preparation for "the UEFA Euro 2028 championship". €10 million is going to the Battle of the Boyne site in Co Meath. and a commitment to fund the Narrow Water Bridge near Carlingford. An enterprise scheme will get €30 million and a cross-border plan to fight educational disadvantage will get €24 million.  Finally, €12.5 million will be available to increase the frequency of Belfast-Dublin rail services.

It is easy to assume that this is part of a gradualist approach towards Irish unity, and in fact one reporter asked just that question. He was firmly rebuffed by Tánaiste Micheál Martin, who said it was about partnership with the British and the Northern Executive.

The funding, according to the Taoiseach "shows our commitment to working with the new Executive, and with the UK government, to make the island of Ireland a better place for everyone who calls it home"  In other words, it is situated within the "shared island" strategy meant to preserve partition into the indefinite future.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan made it explicit.  The "shared island approach is good for everyone on this island".  The nationalist parties overwhelmingly welcomed the funding, but it did not take long for Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP to put them in their place:

He said: "Whilst we welcome support from the Irish Government for genuine cross-border projects that demonstrate mutual benefit to both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, it is not the job or the responsibility of the Republicís government to provide financial support for the provision of public services and general Northern Ireland infrastructure.

"That is a matter for the UK Government and must be done so in accordance with our needs base as set out in evidence provided to the UK Government".

The cross-border projects are an attempt by Irish capital to pin down the latest resurrection of the Stormont Assembly. The problem with this approach is that the political foundation of the new assembly is a sharp turn away by the British from North-South relationships and the promotion of overall ownership of the North and the programme of Securing the Union.

The political retreat from an Irish democracy is accompanied by budgets from both governments that sharply repress the living standards of workers. The next chapter will involve a political and economic response form the working class.

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