The Celtic Conundrum

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Three years after the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, officials in Brussels, London and Dublin still haven’t fixed the rules governing the border between Northern Ireland, a member of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland in the south.

Recently, both sides in negotiations over the Northern Irish border – Ireland is an EU member – agreed to keep discussing the topic, reported the Guardian. The announcement showed how Northern Ireland is one reason why some Irish might feel as if they are in limbo, a midpoint or waiting area between a future of unity some can imagine, including potentially a unified Ireland, and potential instability and decline as changing global conditions jeopardize the republic’s recent economic rise.

For skeptics who believe the chances of Northern Ireland joining the republic are zero, note that a 2019 poll found that a majority of Conservatives who supported Brexit also supported Northern Ireland leaving the UK. Pro-unification Sinn Féin, a political party with historic links to the Irish Republican Army, a militant organization, now is the largest party in the Northern Irish Assembly, too, added the Associated Press.

At the same time, as Irish and EU diplomats negotiate over Northern Ireland, Irish leaders are struggling to deal with the economic currents that globalism started, Brexit complicated, the coronavirus pandemic undermined and the Russian invasion of Ukraine outright harmed.

For now, Ireland is doing great. The Irish government recently announced that the West European country’s economy grew handsomely last year amid high inflation, according to the Irish Independent, because of record exports and rising household wealth that rivaled the increases seen during the emergence of the so-called Celtic Tiger in 2007.

But pessimists worry if Ireland can maintain this trajectory, however. “With record corporate tax returns swelling the state coffers, are we on a sustainable footing?” wrote RTE, the national public broadcaster. “Could a global recession put a pin in Ireland’s balloon?” Writing in the Irish Examiner, Dublin City University Business Professor Anthony Foley argued, for instance, that housing costs, labor shortages, the quality of public healthcare and other issues are worsening even as the Irish economy grows.

Deaths from Covid-19, additionally, are extremely high at present in Ireland, surpassing rates that occurred in late 2021, when Irish leaders were compelled to declare a six-month nationwide lockdown, the Times of London reported. Vaccination rates are high but some people still have yet to receive jabs.

Conditions have birthed an international irony. Millions of Irish families quit the country over the centuries to escape poverty. Today, 60 percent of young Irish citizens are considering emigrating due to high rents and other costs, the Irish Times noted.

Ireland was not better when violence raged in the North and poverty ruled in the South. But more money can also bring more problems.

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