Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Questions (66)

Seán Fleming

Question:

66. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the issue of a referendum on a united Ireland or a Border poll is included on the risk register of his Department; if the risk committee of his Department examined this issue; if so, the assessment and determination; the reason this issue is or is not included on the risk register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11752/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The risk management process within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade involves as a matter of course consideration of risks in relation to the political situation in Northern Ireland and the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts.

The Department's risk management process is outlined in its Risk Management Policy, which is guided by the Risk Management Guidance provided by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Risks facing the Department are identified both at Management Board level and by each business unit and these risks are subsequently interrogated by a Risk Management Committee, the Chief Risk Officer and the Management Board.

The risk management process within the Department is an important management tool which is part of the deliberative process of the organisation and informs, on an ongoing basis, senior management decision making.

In relation to the possibility of a referendum on a united Ireland or a border poll, the principle of consent and the possibility of change in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland are fundamental elements of the Good Friday Agreement, endorsed by the people of this island North and South.

The Department would note that the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements is a priority for it, and for the Government as a whole. The approach of the Government in relation to Irish unity is of course guided by Article 3 of the Constitution, as amended by the people in 1998.

The holding of a referendum in this jurisdiction is connected with the calling of a border poll, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, in Northern Ireland. While the decision to hold such a poll in Northern Ireland rests with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Government does not believe it likely at present that such a border poll in the near future would result in a decision on the part of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland in favour of constitutional change.

In the event of a future referendum within the consent provisions of the Good Friday Agreement, the Government would make all necessary preparations in accordance with the terms of the Constitution and the principles and procedures of the Agreement.