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Enda Kenny raises possibility of border poll as part of Brexit negotiations

The Taoiseach drew comparisons with East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Enda Kenny pictured with Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster at the North South Ministerial Council in Dublin Castle earlier this month
Enda Kenny pictured with Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster at the North South Ministerial Council in Dublin Castle earlier this month
Image: Paul Walsh/PA Wire

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has raised the possibility of a border poll on a united Ireland as part of the Brexit negotiations.

Appearing at the MacGill summer school in Donegal’s Glenties last night, he made the comments to reporters.

Speaking on Newstalk, Kenny drew comparisons with the situation in Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990.

“The discussions and negotiations that will take place over the next period should take into account the possibility, however far out that it might be, that the clause in the Good Friday Agreement might be triggered,” he said.

In that if there is 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.
In the same way that East Germany was dealt with when the wall came down. It was able to be absorbed into West Germany and not to have to go through the long and tortuous process of applying for membership of the European Union.
So when Northern Ireland voted to stay, who knows what may happen in the time ahead.

Kenny’s remarks follows a call by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who – delivering the John Hume lecture at the same event – yesterday called the Brexit vote a “defining moment in Northern politics”.

“The remain vote may show 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,” Martin said.

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Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said today that he welcomed the Taoiseach’s remarks about the possibility of a referendum on Irish unity arising from the Brexit vote.

All-island conversation

In a private meeting with party leaders, including Enda Kenny, he said the commitment of an all-island forum was raised.

Adams said he would now be looking to the government and particularly the Taoiseach to show leadership and bring forward details of how an all-island wide conversation on the issues can be facilitated.

Speaking about the new Northern Ireland Secretary of State, James Brokenshire’s point of view there is not enough support for a border poll, Adams said:

Sometimes secretaries of state on their first day can be very, very short-sighted.

He said that while technically it states in the Good Friday Agreement that the decision to trigger a border poll falls to the secretary of state, he said it was never going to be made by one person.

“That is a decision for the two governments,” he said.

Now that the Irish government has moved into that space, that is very, very important. It was always above the pay scale for any British secretary of state.

Adams said he did not know the timescale of when a border poll could be held, stating that he would like for it to have been held yesterday.

However, he said he understood negotiations for Brexit could take up to two years and another two years to negotiate a new deal.

He said now was the time for a “game change” in relation to our approach to Irish unity.

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

BREXIT: The UK has voted to leave the European Union

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