Brendan O'Leary

Making Sense of a United Ireland

Making Sense of a United Ireland

Should it happen? How might it happen?


A century ago the resolution to Ireland’s long struggle for independence was a settlement that saw six of its northern counties remain in the United Kingdom while the other twenty-six formed the new Republic of Ireland. Since partition the unification of the two parts of the island has seemed impossible, particularly because of the bloody legacy of past conflict.

However, by 2030, if not sooner, the demographic and electoral advantages of Ulster Unionists – who identify as British – will be over. Political developments on both sides of the Irish border, and within Great Britain, make calls for unification referendums increasingly likely. Yet even those who want these to happen are not prepared.

Making Sense of a United Ireland is a remarkable exploration of this most contentious of issues by Professor Brendan O'Leary, a global expert on divided places, who has worked on the Irish question for nearly forty years.