For over two centuries, the 'Irish Question' has dogged British politics in one form or another - Northern Ireland's 'Troubles' being perhaps the bloodiest manifestation. And although the past twenty years have seen intensive efforts to secure a devolved local settlement via the Good Friday Agreement, its principle of consent - which holds that the country cannot leave the UK without a majority vote - has meant that the constitutional status of Northern Ireland remains moot.
Remote from the UK mainland in terms of its politics, economy and societal attitudes, Northern Ireland is placed, in effect, in an antechamber - subject to shifting demographic trends which are eroding the once-dominant Protestant Unionist majority, making a future referendum on the province's status a racing certainty. Indeed, in the light of Brexit and a highly probable second independence referendum in Scotland, the reunification of Ireland is not a question of 'if', but 'when' - and 'how'.
In A United Ireland, Kevin Meagher argues that a reasoned, pragmatic discussion about Britain's relationship with its nearest neighbour is now long overdue, and questions that have remained unasked (and perhaps unthought) must now be answered.