With the looming threat of a hard border on the Irish frontier of the EU, many Irish nationalists have found hope for a border poll to bring about a 32 county united republic. However, Irish Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Simon Coveney argues that such a poll is currently, ‘not wise and not welcome’ during Brexit negotiations.
In the midst of massive changes to the south of Ireland, such as the recent abortion and same-sex marriage referenda, Sinn Féin’s Northern Ireland leader, Michelle O’Neill, has argued for a border poll. Yet, when speaking at the British Irish Chamber of Commerce annual networking dinner in Dublin, Coveney felt as though the crossroads of the time are not ideal for the border question.
As of now, Irish nationals are free to live and work in the U.K. and vice versa for British citizens, which is protected by the common travel area and bilateral working agreements between the two countries. But with the possibility for renewed controls at the border with the north of Ireland, Coveney has highlighted the Irish government’s commitment to, “the overarching guarantee of no physical infrastructure at the Border and no associated checks or controls”.
In the north, both nationalists and unionists have expressed support for remaining within the EU single market and customs union by around 85%, according to Coveney citing a recent poll on the matter. The Tánaiste noted that insufficient progress has been made in negotiations on the status of Northern Ireland in the EU and the north’s relation to the Republic.
The main priority for Coveney’s agenda is to avoid a hard border at all costs and to solidify a guarantee in negotiations before any discussions are to be made finalizing a Brexit deal.
Do you believe it’s time for a border poll? What do you think of the Tánaiste’s remarks?