There has been much discussion in the media recently about a possible British exit (Brexit) from the EU; all of this in anticipation of a speech by British Prime Minister David Cameron on the 22nd January, in which he is expected to set out Britain's future relationship with the EU. In recent days An Taoiseach Enda Kenny has stated publicly that a British exit from the EU would be "disastrous for our country" (The PM's speech: Cameron ties himself in knots over EU question - The Irish Times - Fri, Jan 11, 2013).
However, would it really be disastrous?
One can envisage a number of scenarios that would result from British withdrawal from the EU.
Assuming Britain withdrew from the EU, Scotland would likely choose to remain in the EU, thereby triggering Scottish independence and the eventual break-up of the UK. This would likely accelerate either the unification of Ireland or the creation of some form of loose federation involving Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland. It would certainly force Northern Irish Unionism to seriously consider their position. If unification is the result, how would this be "disastrous", considering it is the "firm will" of the constitution, in Article 3, to achieve this very outcome. Of course, one could envisage a severe economic burden as well as possible civil disturbance arising out of unification. But, if unification comes, one must assume it is with the consent of the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland and that the economic burdens would be happily, if grudgingly, shouldered by all in the interest of achieving this historically desired unity (after all, we are presently stoically shouldering the crippling debt of useless, criminal banks; would we really not shoulder the more wholesome economic burden of unifying our nation if it came to it?).
On a financial level, there may even be benefits. In the event of Brexit, we would remain (until the joining of Scotland) as the only english speaking country in the EU. This would be a huge benefit to us. That is, there would likely be an exodus of multinational companies and firms from the Britain to Ireland, in this event. There would also likely be a substantial movement of funds from the City of London to the IFSC. Scotland could, in time, grow to be a competitor to Ireland in these areas, but that is assuming that its membership of the EU is quickly approved (remember Ireland could block its membership, much as Cyprus and others are currently blocking Turkey's membership), and, indeed, that Scotland even gains independence in the first place.
In addition, there is little danger to the trade that exists between Ireland and the UK as, even if Britain fully withdraws from the EU, it is likely to remain on in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), thereby assuring trade between our islands is fully maintained. That is, our large exports to Britain are under very little threat. The common travel area, etc. is also under little threat from a British withdrawal from the EU.
On a further geo-political level, it is in Ireland's historical interest to see Britain (England) reduced to a rump state, isolated from the EU. Once out of the EU, which is a growing global power, England would be as Puerto Rico is to the United States: insignificant. Ireland, moreover, remaining in the EU, would have the power to control England's eventual re-entry to the EU, conferring on us a power over our neighbours that would be a reversal of the position that has been extant for hundreds of years now. We should, if anything, be silently encouraging our neighbour to leave the EU, just to place ourselves in this advantageous position. It would be nice, at last, would it not, to be history's victor and not its victim?
So, in terms of unification of the island, financial benefits that would accrue, maintenance of exports and a possible ability to screw the English (call it compensation for the famine, etc), would a Brexit really be disastrous?