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Dublin: 0 °C Sunday 25 February, 2018

Micheál Martin hopes Brexit will lead to a vote on a reunited Ireland

It’s not the right time yet though, he says.

Micheal Martin at his party's Ard Fheis in January.
Micheal Martin at his party's Ard Fheis in January.
Image: Sam Boal/

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin says that he hopes the UK’s Brexit vote will eventually lead to a referendum on a united Ireland.

Delivering the John Hume lecture at the MacGill summer school in Donegal, Martin says that the Brexit vote is a “defining moment in Northern politics”.

A majority of people in Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU while the UK as a whole voted to leave.

“It may very well be that the decision of Northern Ireland to oppose the English-driven anti-EU UK majority is a defining moment in Northern politics,” Martin 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 of Europe,” he added.

The Fianna Fáil leader also said he welcomed the government’s promotion of an “all-island approach to Brexit” before adding that any discussions must be inclusive.

Martin also took aim at the media and the government for a “hands-off detachment” on Northern Ireland issues.

“It is a sad reality that our government and our media have tended to ignore Northern Ireland except when there is a crisis,” he said.

Martin’s comments come as his party overtook Fine Gael as the most popular party in the country, according to a poll in the Sunday Business Post.

The poll put Fianna Fáil at a support level of 29% compared to 26% for Fine Gael.

Read: Enda Kenny wants an open border between the Republic and Northern Ireland >

Read: ‘It’s too early and it’s too long’: TDs set to take three months’ holidays >

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