AN ISLAND OFF THE COAST OF AN ISLAND

A Single Ireland? UNITY

WILL 1992 bring de facto unification of Ireland? Sovereignty over the Emerald Isle is divided in two - the 26 counties of the Republic, an independent state; and the six counties of Northern Ireland, which are part of Britain. Since partition, Irish nationalists have aspired to reunification; the largely Protestant unionists in the North have adamantly clung to their ties to London.

But doesn't 1992 have implications for the border across Ireland?

``Certainly the agricultural communities north and south have more in common with each other than farmers in Northern Ireland have with their counterparts on the British mainland,'' says an Irish official who follows cross-border economic cooperation.

She points to a speech Prime Minister Charles Haughey made in April to a group of business leaders in Belfast - in his capacity as president of the European Council, by the way. He said, ``The disappearance of the economic, administrative, and taxation border between north and south in this country must inevitably bring increased cross-border trade.'' He also encouraged businesses on both sides of the border ``to see the whole island as their operation base.''

Some 200 unionists demonstrated against his visit. He said he was ``very happy'' that there were no more.

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