These anachronistic clauses strengthen loyalist and republican extremism beyond measure. Republicans are encouraged to think they are completing the nation- building mission that Dublin seems to pay constitutional lip-service to. Meanwhile, warped loyalists can brand the whole of the South as an enemy state harbouring evil intent towards their community, and export their terror campaign southwards.
As long as Dublin retains a territorial claim over the North, her politicians will be tempting their cash-strapped London counterparts to offload the whole problem to them. The resulting civil war is unlikely to spread to mainland Britain, but with the Unionists having the largest armed forces on the island, it would probably devastate areas of the republic, such as Donegal and Sligo, which have only known peace for the past 70 years.
Mr Appleyard was right to explore the myopia behind Dublin policy, but he should have gone further to point out the foolishness of retaining the territorial claim. My suspicion is that it is only there so Fianna Fail can retain an identity separate from its arch-rival Fine Gael, parties otherwise identical in most aspects of policy. Nations have been beggared before when their rulers put such narrow concerns before their higher responsibilities.
Department of Peace Studies
University of Bradford