Cross-border proposals are being prepared to link Ireland to Scotland through a 21-mile bridge or tunnel from the Antrim coast to Galloway in south-west Scotland.
The scheme, which could cost anything between 750 million pounds and 3.5 billion, has been discussed by lobby group the Centre for Cross Border Studies.
In recent years, sea-crossing bridge technology has linked Denmark to Sweden, while a 22.5-mile road bridge -- larger than would be required to cross the Irish Sea -- is being built in China.
BETTING ON UNITY
The bridge might link an independent Scotland to a newly re-united Ireland. Moves are already underway by the Scottish government for independence by 2010. Meanwhile, a leading Irish bookmakers, Paddy Power, is already giving gamblers the chance to place bets on one parliament governing the 32 counties.
The bookmaker defines a united Ireland as - “one parliament governing North and South, and Northern Ireland no longer part of the UK in any shape or form”. Odds of 10-1 are being offered for a united Ireland to come into being by 2027.
But for those who fancy a higher rate of return could opt for the chance of a united Ireland by 2012 with odds of 25-1. There are also odds of 20-1 for possibility of it happening by 2017 and 14-1 on it occurring by 2022.
Across the water, Scotland’s SNP government has this week launched its plan for an independence referendum despite the opposition of rival political parties.
First Minister Alex Salmond said he regards the publication of a government White Paper outlining all the constitutional options as the start of a process he hopes might see the issue resolved by a 2010 target date. He also warned the majority unionist parties that “no change is no longer an option”.
Mr Salmond said the renewed focus “on the next stage of self-government” demanded “the attention of every Scot”.
Mr Salmond accepted he could only secure a referendum - and so get the issue of independence on the ballot paper - if he can win the participation of some of the pro-union parties in the debate.
He also indicated he would accept the outcome of any referendum, saying: “I believe these are a once-in-a-generation thing.”
The White Paper opens with a quote from Charles Stewart Parnell: “No man has a right to fix the boundary of the march of a nation; no man has a right to say to his country, ‘Thus far shalt thou go and no further’.”