Friday

20th Apr 2018

Irish PM opens door to reunification vote

  • Unionist mural in Belfast: Brexit has opened the door to reunification demands in Ireland (Photo: Miss Copenhagen)

Irish prime minister Enda Kenny has raised the possibility of a vote on Irish reunification in the wake of the Brexit referendum.

The taoiseach said on Monday (18 July) that if people of Northern Ireland clearly showed the will to leave the UK and join the Republic, they should have the right to a referendum on the issue.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He also called on the EU to prepare for the scenario. The centre-right Fine Gael party leader drew a parallel to German reunification following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“The discussion and negotiations that take place over the next period should take into account the possibility ... that if there is a clear evidence of a majority of people wishing to leave the United Kingdom and join the Republic that that should be catered for in the discussions that take place,” Kenny said.

“Because if that possibility were to happen, you would have Northern Ireland wishing to leave the United Kingdom, not being a member of the European Union, and joining the Republic which will be a member of the EU.”

The Irish leader also urged the bloc to curb attempts to punish Britain for its vote to leave the EU, warning that such an approach could inflame anti-EU sentiment across the continent.

"It is in nobody’s interests for the UK and the EU to have anything but the best possible future relations," he said.

A majority of voters in Northern Ireland, and those in Scotland, voted to remain in the EU while most people in England and Wales voted to leave.

The Irish leader campaigned to keep Britain in the EU.

Immediately after the UK voted to leave the EU, the taoiseach replied to nationalist calls for a referendum by saying that relations between the Republic and Northern Ireland would "require careful consideration”, but they should be approached "in the same spirit of partnership that had underpinned the peace process" on the island for decades.

Ireland has been hit hard by consequences of the Brexit vote.

The UK is the second biggest destination for the country’s exports after the US, and the biggest for its services.

Theresa May said before she became British prime minister that the details of the open border between Ireland and the UK would be discussed as part of Brexit talks with Brussels.

The open border accord is widely seen as a tangible end of the sectarian violence that claimed more than 3,500 lives in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.

The UK dismantled its military checkpoints and watchtowers on the border following the 1998 Good Friday accord, giving Catholics in Northern Ireland the freedom to maintain close ties with the southern Republic while staying part of Britain.

May promotes Brexit on 'first-anniversary' UK tour

The British prime minister vowed to "deliver a Brexit that unites" the country, while 44 percent of the public thinks her policy is a "total shambles" but that the decision to leave the EU should be respected.

'Decisive step' in Brexit ahead of EU summit

The UK and the EU have reached a legal agreement on citizens' rights and the financial settlement, but with still little progress on the future of the Irish border.

Car lobby uses Brexit to dispute CO2 targets

The lobby group for European car manufacturers has said that if UK sales data is not counted when calculating CO2 emissions, the target should be reviewed. The commission has refused to comment.

May promotes Brexit on 'first-anniversary' UK tour

The British prime minister vowed to "deliver a Brexit that unites" the country, while 44 percent of the public thinks her policy is a "total shambles" but that the decision to leave the EU should be respected.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  2. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  3. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  4. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  5. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  6. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists
  7. Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study
  8. Selmayr case scars Parliament and Commission