Irish reunification on the cards with calls for referendum

Michael Martin

AFTER centuries of English occupation and division the prospect of Ireland’s reunification is back on the mainstream political agenda following the Brexit vote.

Micheal Martin, leader of Fianna Fail, the Republic’s main opposition party, has suggested that the majority vote within Northern Ireland to stay in the European Union could act as a catalyst for a reunification referendum.

“It may very well be that the decision ofNorthernIrelandto oppose the English-driven anti-EU UK majority is a defining moment in Northern politics,” he said.

 “The remain vote may show people the need to rethink current arrangements. I hope it moves us towards majority support for unification, and if it does we should trigger a reunification referendum.

“However, at this moment the only evidence we have is that the majority of people in Northern Ireland want to maintain open borders and a single market with this jurisdiction, and beyond that with the rest ofEurope.”

Irish and British citizens on both sides of the 310-mile border have enjoyed unfettered free movement courtesy of the peace process and EU membership, a far cry from the days of militarised checkpoints and violence that marked the Troubles.

With the UK on the verge of leaving the EU, the prospect of a hard border dividing the island has raised concerns that the social and economic benefits of free movement are in jeopardy.

Martin, whose party could well form the next Irish government, has said “new barriers between both parts of this island would potentially set us back decades”, echoing deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness’ claim that Brexit would create a “democratic imperative” for a reunification vote.

“If Britain votes to leave theEuropean Union then that could have huge implications for the entire island of Ireland and, given all the predictions, would run counter to the democratic wishes of the Irish people,” the Sinn Féin leader and former IRA chief-of-staff said in the run-up to June 23.

Under the Good Friday Agreement any referendum on constitutional change should be held within Northern Ireland alone, a condition vehemently opposed by Republican dissidents who consider the border an illegitimate relic of British colonial policy, and would like all Ireland to have a vote.

The news comes as Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon allowed for the possibility of an independence referendum as early as 2017, hinting that it would be strongly preferable to hold any vote before the UK and EU are officially divorced. 

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    • ChrisClark Project

      18 July 2016 • 09:11

      It is unlikely that the island will be re-unified.

      N Ireland has 3 main options:
      1. Unify / Federate with the Republic.
      2. Go it alone.
      3. Unify / Federate with Scotland.

      Let’s face facts; option 2 is far from realistic. So let’s ignore it.

      Option 1 whilst romantically pretty is not a good idea. Given that the Republic can barely run itself. then option 1 is not ideal either. In fact I feel the Republic should have a vote in the matter so that we can decline the possible unification.

      This leaves the Scottish option, or as a friend of mine calls it; ScIreland. (sp?). Unifying / Federating with Scotland would make most sense for a few reasons, most prominently though:

      (a) Scotland & N Ireland have as much or more in common culturally and historically than N Ireland and England. (Whilst the same is true of N Ireland and the Republic, we have already ruled out this option). Given that both N Ireland and Scotland are both British / Celtic nations, they are the most culturally matched.
      (b) Scotland, independent of the UK, would be wealthy enough and have the strength to carry N Ireland.


    • Scott Edwards

      19 July 2016 • 06:33

      “Given that the Republic can barely run itself” Haha!

      Ive done! think you have managed to write one of the most ridiculous posts that I have read for some time (and that includes Brexit!).

      Seriously, having lived in both Scotland and Ireland for many years, there is little in the way of a cultural identity between the two provinces – despite the glamour of assuming otherwise. A United Ireland is the only long term certainty. Not in our lifetimes, maybe, but it will happen.

    • Peter

      19 July 2016 • 07:07

      I love the idea of Ireland being re-united. It is a would be brilliant if all the world could unite and all be as one – just like John Lennon said in his song “IMAGINE”.

    • ChrisClark Project

      19 July 2016 • 10:49

      You think it’s ridiculous ?

      Well it seems you know very little about the politics / geography of the British Isles.

      How ridiculous is that given your attempt to contribute to the discussion ?


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