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Dublin council to vote on lobbying minister to ask Northern Irish secretary to organise a border poll

Some councillors described it as a smart move while others questioned its relevance at a Dublin council meeting.

Image: Shutterstock/Svetlana.Is

A DUBLIN COUNCIL has put down a motion to have the Government lobby the British secretary of state for Northern Ireland to set a date for a United Ireland poll. 

The motion, put forward to South Dublin County Council (SDCC) by Sinn Féin councillor Mark Ward, will be debated on Monday night, with many councillors saying that they expect it will pass. 

The motion asks that council management call on the Government to “immediately plan for a United Ireland and furthermore to ask the minister to call on the British secretary of state to set a date for a border poll on Irish Unification”. 

TheJournal.ie understands a similar motion was put forward in 2016 and passed by a majority. 

Speaking ahead of the upcoming vote, Ward said the council represented 250,000 Irish citizens who were entitled to have a say on a united Ireland, particularly with a no-deal Brexit looking more likely by the day. 

“It’s apt at the moment as the government seems to be talking about every possible outcome in relation to Brexit but not a united Ireland,” he said. 

“There are no plans as far as we can see in relation to a United Ireland, what it would look like and how it could be enacted. 

In terms of SDCC, there is 285,000 people in out county so if this motion passes, that will be 285,000 people calling on this Government to get plans ready for a United Ireland.

“It’s not just councillors in a room that are discussing this. We’re doing it on behalf of constituents we represent, and that is more than a quarter of a million people,” he added. 

Smart motion

Some councillors have questioned the appropriateness of this motion before a Dublin council but others, such as Fianna Fáil councillor Emma Murphy, have said it is a “smart motion” and that she expects it will pass. 

“It’s a question that needs to be posed and given the precarious poisition we find ourselves in on a national basis, why not look at the issue now,” she told TheJournal.ie. 

“I think it’s a conversation starter and that’s our job and our duty – we have a relevancy and a democratic right within SDCC and it might start a conversation relevant in border counties and other local authorities aswell.”

Green Party councillor Francis Duffy said he is hesitant about making a decision before hearing the debate from councillors but said “sitting here now, I’d probably be in favour of it”. 

However, Duffy cautioned whether this type of motion would actually effect any new policy or action from the Government. 

“I don’t know if this would become a council policy but if it passes the council will write to the minister saying we endorse that position. 

“At the same time, it makes sense. I think it might be a bit early and I would broadly be in favour of it but you might be jumping the gun on it depending on whether there is a deal.

Duffy also said the issues with the border was not specific to border counties and the six counties in the North. 

“A lot of people in the south feel strongly about the north and the united Ireland… from traveling the country over the years, there is quite a strong understanding.”

Relevant 

Although, the motion has so far been supported by members from a number of political parties, some councillors have questioned the relevance of the motion to a south Dublin local authority. 

“I would be happy to support the motion but I suppose one point I would make is whether the motion is relevant to SDCC,” Fianna Fáil councillor and Deputy mayor Trevor Gilligan said. 

“If we put a motion down sometimes we’re told we can’t put it down because it doesn’t relate to the council.

“Yet, some of these motions are fitting and well thought out but we don’t have a lot of time at these meetings so we should be concentrating on the local issues.”

“I would hope Sinn Féin councillors are not just putting down a motion at council level in SDCC but they should be putting them down in all local authority meetings,” he added. 

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