Making Sense of a United Ireland

Making Sense of a United Ireland

Should it happen? How might it happen?


'Should be required reading for everyone - including unionists - who are interested in and concerned about the fate of this island' Dublin Review of Books

'Compelling' Financial Times

Will Ireland really reunite?

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, demographic and electoral advantages of Ulster unionists, who wish to remain part of the UK, will be over. And in the light of Brexit, the rising popularity of the Irish nationalist party Sinn Féin, political developments both sides of the border, and within Great Britain, Irish unification referendums will become increasingly likely. Yet even those who want these to happen are not prepared.

Making Sense of a United Ireland is a landmark exploration of this most contentious of issues. Distinguished political scientist Brendan O'Leary - a global expert on divided places, who has been profoundly engaged with the Irish question for nearly four decades - argues that the time to consider the future of the island of Ireland is now.

'The first comprehensive manual of Irish unification' Irish Times

‘Several books have been written about this subject . . . for sheer intellectual firepower O’Leary wins first prize’ Business Post

'A tour de force' Globe and Mail

'A must-read for anyone who lives in Northern Ireland and thinks seriously about its future. [O'Leary has] thought through the implications of possible unity so deeply it would be foolish for anyone who seeks it or opposes it to ignore his book' Cathal Mac Coille

'Impressively researched and well-argued … detailed and readable' Irish Independent

'Brilliant' Brian Feeney, Irish News
'Highly readable, stylishly written, and essential' Irish Central


  • Welcome and compelling

About the author

Brendan O'Leary

Brendan O'Leary is Lauder Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania and a Visiting Professor of Political Science at Queen's University, Belfast. He is an American citizen but both Irish (born in Cork) and Northern Irish in origin. He has been deeply engaged in conflict resolution in Ireland for nearly four decades (including over a decade advising the British Labour Party in the run-up to the Good Friday Agreement; advising an influential group of Irish-Americans led by Congressman Bruce Morrison through the 1990s; and writing advisory memoranda for the Irish government). Brendan has written, co-authored and edited many books. Making Sense of a United Ireland is his 30th book.
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