Speaking during Leaders Questions in the Dáil today the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today raised the issue of a border poll.
He expressed his disappointment at the Taoiseach’s refusal to consider supporting a border poll at this time.
Mr. Adams said: Partition has failed the people of this island. It is uneconomic, unjust and inefficient. Now is the right time for a debate on this issue in the context of rebuilding the economies on this island and beginning a process of dialogue and consultation around Irish unity.”
The Sinn Féin leader said:
“Yesterday the British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond agreed on a date for a referendum on Scottish independence.
The British Union is now a live debating issue and the people of Scotland will have their say in 2014.”
The Sinn Féin leader pointed out that under the Good Friday Agreement there is provision for a border poll. He said;
“There is an onus on the Irish government to ‘prepare a strategy, a plan, in co-operation with others, and including a Green Paper on Irish unity, that has the Irish government take the lead’ on the issue of Irish unity, including the setting of a ‘date for a border poll’.”
Welcoming the Taoiseach remarks in Cleveland last Friday in respect of a united Ireland Gerry Adams said this is “one of the great historic challenges facing the Irish people at the start of the 21st century.”
“A united Ireland will only happen when those who believe that partition is a costly, inefficient, bureaucratic duplication of services on this island, persuade those who wish to retain the union, that Irish unity will be better for them and for their children.
“We have to demonstrate in practical ways why working as partners and living together as equals on this island is better.”
Note to Editor:
In the Constitutional Issues section of the Good Friday (or Belfast) Agreement (1.iv) the British and Irish governments:
“affirm that, if, in future, the people of the island of Ireland exercise their right of self-determination on the basis set out in sections (i) and (ii) above to bring about a united Ireland, it will be a binding obligation on both governments to introduce and support in their respective Parliaments legislation to give effect to that wish”
Sections (i) and (ii) referred to are the requirement for the consent of a majority within the North and the provision for concurrent referenda North and South.
The Good Friday Agreement therefore provides for a poll on Irish unity as follows, which was also incorporated in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Schedule 1) passed at Westminster.
“1. The Secretary of State may by order direct the holding of a poll for the
purposes of section 1 [of the Act re. Irish unity] on a date specified in the order.
“2. Subject to paragraph 3, the Secretary of State shall exercise the power
Under paragraph 1 if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.
“3. The Secretary of State shall not make an order under paragraph 1 earlier than seven years after the holding of a previous poll under this Schedule.”