Minister Flanagan addresses Northern Ireland dimension of UK referendum result27 June 2016
Minister Flanagan addresses Northern Ireland dimension of UK referendum result
All diplomatic resources to be used to promote Ireland’s priorities in the negotiations ahead
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade today (Monday) told the Dáil today that the Irish Government will address the real and genuine concerns of many in Northern Ireland in relation to the outcome of the UK referendum.
“During the course of the referendum campaign, the Taoiseach and I both pointed to the importance of Ireland’s and the UK’s shared membership of the European Union for the progress that has been made in Northern Ireland over recent decades – not least the tangible practical support that the EU provided for building peace and reconciliation on our island.
“I am therefore very conscious of the serious implications for Northern Ireland of the UK’s referendum decision. The fact that 56% of those who voted in Northern Ireland to remain are now faced with the prospect of their preference being set aside as a result of the overall result across the UK raises profound issues, as it does in Scotland.
“I know there are very many people in the North – both of the nationalist and unionist traditions – who are deeply concerned that, despite its expressed will, Northern Ireland will now find itself outside of the European Union and deprived of the EU scaffolding that has provided such support for the progress made on this island over recent decades.
“These are very real and genuine concerns and the Irish Government intends to address them with a spirit of determination and responsibility.
“The key reassurance I can provide is that, irrespective of Friday’s result, the Good Friday Agreement remains the template for political relationships on this island and between these islands. When I spoke to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on Friday, we both agreed that this foundational international agreement remains the basis for the two Governments’ approach to Northern Ireland. Friday’s result does not in any way diminish the centrality of the Good Friday Agreement or the two Governments’ commitment to uphold it. As a co-guarantor of the Good Friday and succeeding Agreements, the Irish Government is determined that its institutions, values and principles will be fully protected.
Regarding calls for a border poll, Minister Flanagan stated:
“Rather than focus on a border poll, I believe that our immediate strategy should be to sit down with the British Government and with the Northern Ireland Executive and to urgently discuss how collectively we are together going to protect the gains of the last decades and to prevent the worst effects of a UK departure from the EU.”
“I accept of course that future arrangements in regard to the border on this island will not exclusively be determined by the combined wishes of the Irish Government, the British Government and the Northern Ireland Executive. They will also be influenced by the wider negotiations between the UK and the EU of 27 remaining Member States. One of our challenges, therefore, will be for Ireland to use its influence with our EU partners to persuade them of the need for specific arrangements which protect the key gains of the peace process on this island – a process to which the EU has already made a key contribution.”
Minister Flanagan told the Dáil that all Ireland’s diplomatic resources would be deployed in the task ahead:
“Ireland’s diplomatic resources will be used to the full – to drive home Ireland’s priorities with EU governments, to support the Irish community in Britain and to support Irish trade, among other key tasks.
He assured Deputies that “the Irish Government is aware the challenges presented by the UK’s vote to exit from the European Union, but that it is also prepared and has a framework to face those challenges.”
27 June 2016