Ireland could be reunified with Northern Ireland, almost 100 years after the island was split on May 3, 1921, if Britain leaves the EU without a deal. If Boris Johnson’s Government does pull the UK out of the bloc without a deal in place, a referendum on whether Ireland should reunite could take place – and Irish politicians want the country fully prepared for such a scenario. Irish premier Leo Varadkar has been criticised for not starting the necessary preparations for the vote.
In August 2017, a cross-party committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement published a document containing 17 recommendations relating to a united Ireland.
One of them advised preparing for a potential referendum on a united Ireland.
Mark Daly, a senator with the country’s main opposition party Fianna Fail, criticised Mr Vardakar for failing to implement any of the reports recommendations.
As well as advising for referendum preparations, the document, titled ‘Brexit and the Future of Ireland: Uniting Ireland and Its People in Peace and Prosperty’, recommended establishing a New Ireland forum to lay the groundwork for a peaceful reunification of Ireland.
Leo Varadkar has come under fire for not making provisions for an Irish referendum
Ireland could face a reunification with Northern Ireland following a no deal Brexit
It also called for an international task force comprising security experts to be set up so that plans can be put in place to help mitigate any risks.
The report also said the fears and concerns of the unionist community in Northern Ireland needed to be examined in advance of a potential referendum.
Mr Daly said: “Absolutely none of the recommendations of the all-party committee have been implemented, this is a clear case of policy neglect and policy neglect seldom goes unpunished.
“The Taoiseach [Leo Varadkar] has spoken as recently as the McGill summer school on the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland, especially faced as we are now with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, yet he is doing none of the necessary preparation in advance of the possible/probable referendum on a new agreed Ireland.”
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Mr Daly added: “Brexit has taught us many lessons, the most important being, you do not hold a referendum without the prior work being completed, any referendum on a united Ireland needs the preparation to start now, not when we are faced with the question at the ballot box.”
The Irish premier acknowledged that a no deal Brexit is likely to heighten calls for an Irish reunification when speaking at the McGill summer school last week.
He also said that those uncomfortable with a “nationalistic” Britain, which is considering reintroducing the death penalty, could join forces to support Irish unity and continued membership of the EU.
Mr Daly has been working with a number of experts to produce research reports to address many of the committee’s recommendations, including Michael Ortiz who served as the first US diplomat focused on countering violent extremism, based at the US Department of State during the Obama Administration.
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Mr Varadkar acknowledged a no deal Brexit is likely to heighten calls for a unification vote
He has also been working with two Unesco chairmen, Professor Pat Dolan and Professor Mark Brennan.
They recently published a report on youth and peace in Northern Ireland, which warned of the possible return to violence in the region as a result of a no-deal Brexit or a rushed border poll.
Under Boris Johnson’s leadership, the chances of a no deal Brexit have significantly increased.
The UK Prime Minister has vowed a “do or die” Brexit strategy, promising to take the UK out of the EU on October 31, “with or without a deal”.
The UK Prime Minister has vowed a “do or die” Brexit strategy
Chancellor Sajid Javid has provided £2.1 billion extra funds to help prepare for a no deal departure from the EU.
The extra cash will assist no deal preparations and ensure the UK can withstand a full break with Europe at the end of October.
£1.1 billion is for immediate spending on extra border guards, stockpiling vital medicines and the media campaign.
A further £1 billion will be kept as a reserve fund, to cover emergency contingencies as the Brexit deadline approaches.
Mr Javid said: “With 92 days until the UK leaves the European Union it’s vital that we intensify our planning to ensure we are ready.
“We want to get a good deal that abolishes the anti-democratic backstop.
“But if we can’t get a good deal, we’ll have to leave without one.
“This additional £2.1 billion will ensure we are ready to leave on 31 October – deal or no deal.”