Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Questions (27)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

27. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his Department has made any standby preparations for a change in the status of Scotland following the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence; and if he has had any recent contacts with the Scottish Government and its First Minister. [28132/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

This issue of Scottish independence is a matter for decision by the people of Scotland.

The Government has adopted a strictly neutral approach to the debate in Scotland and has avoided being drawn into speculation on, or anticipation of, various potential outcomes. Our impartiality should not however be mistaken for indifference or lack of interest. We fully recognise the importance of developments in Scotland and are monitoring developments and their implications in light of our interests and policy objectives. The Government accords high priority to the maintenance and development of strong relations with all our neighbours in these islands and will continue to do so regardless of the referendum outcome.

We maintain regular contacts with the Scottish Government. In particular, both our Ambassador to Britain and our Consul General to Scotland meet regularly with First Minister Salmond and with other Scottish politicians. They brief me regularly on these contacts, as well as on issues arising in the referendum debate. Although First Minister Salmond and I have not spoken in the recent past, there are frequent exchanges of Ministerial visits. Most recently, the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, visited Ireland in late May for a series of meetings. Senior Scottish Ministers also meet the Taoiseach at the British Irish Council Summit.