March 27, 2007

A perspective on Northern Ireland

This pifflingly small part of the UK has a population of 1.7m people.

It also has a £5bn budget gap between what central government spends there and what is raised there in taxes.

The government accounts for about 65% of economic output, against a bad enough 48% for the UK as a whole and a better 27% in the Irish Republic.

The number of "economically inactive" in the workforce is 530,000, compared with 720,000 in jobs.

In political terms, only the extremists on each side of the religious divide could reach a settlement. Moderates who had signed up to this would have been outflanked by these same extremists, who have nowhere else to go now that they are the dominant force in their own communities.

So we have the fanatics saying they will govern together. Hm. Anyway, it's time for them to stop whining, and sponging off England.

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