Bertie Ahern, Iar-Thaoiseach, is reported as believing that a 'united Ireland could not be achieved by a simple majority poll in favour of constitutional change'.
He apparently believes that a narrow 50% plus one in favour of unification would not work, and that “a sizeable amount of people” north and south would be required to move to a united Ireland.
“The only way it can be done is if there’s a sizeable amount of people on the island of Ireland, North and South, believe this is the way forward,” he said. “Fifty per cent plus one is not the way to do it. That would be a divisive thing to do. There’s no point having votes to find out that you’re 1 percent short or 1 percent over. That’s not the way to do it.”
Of course Bertie Ahern is no longer in a position to decide whether steps towards unity should be taken. In any event, nothing will happen for a decade, by which time he will be but a distant memory.
The corollary of this Ahern Doctrine is, of course, that if nationalists cannot have Irish unity even when they are a narrow majority, then unionists cannot have unfettered Britishness when they are a narrow majority. Hence, if unionists agree with Ahern's position, they must accept the progressive removal of the trappings of British rule as their majority gets smaller. After all, '50% plus one in favour of the union with Britain' is no more acceptable as a solution, presumably, than 50% plus one in favour of Irish re-unification.
Ahern also said that "the sooner we engage in the process of addressing Irish unity, in all its complexities, with all of its challenges, and the many opportunities it will present, the sooner the reality will occur.” Amen to that!