In another time, Hain would have said much the same to the enforcers of apartheid in South Africa, a country where he spent part of his youth.
Hain, rightly, does not see his current political job as a popularity contest. His pointing to the de facto existence of an all-island economy is not going to endear him to the more recalcitrant in the unionist fold.
The pragmatists, however, will be inclined to agree with him, and some will easily see positive advantage in Ireland presenting itself to the world as a borderless economy, a place where investment stands to yield solid returns, be it planted in Coleraine or Cork.
Politics, of course, will dominate Hain’s work in the short term and the task he faces in the coming weeks is not an easy one. He is the chief cheer leader and primary enforcer of a return to devolved power sharing in that part of the island where political thinking is all too frequently enunciated in words that sound straight out of the 1970s or, indeed, the 17th century.
But politics and economics are first cousins. And if politics was the dominant force in Northern Ireland in the 1990s and early years of this century, perhaps it is indeed the turn of economics to take the lead.
If this is the case, it will be to the advantage of the entire island’s population, now closing in on six million souls.
In his talking up of the opportunities inherent in devolving government against the backdrop of an all-island economy, Hain, of course, can draw for support on a rather obvious example. It’s called Great Britain. Any unionist objections?