Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Ceisteanna (449)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

449. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans for a border poll in the lifetime of this Government. [15140/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The approach of any Irish Government in relation to Irish unity is guided by Article 3 of the Constitution, as amended by the people in 1998. The Government respects everyone’s right on this island to make the case for the constitutional future they wish to see for Northern Ireland - whether the continuation of the union with Great Britain or a sovereign united Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement - and the two sovereign Governments - explicitly recognise and validate the legitimacy of both of these constitutional positions, which are deeply held.

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. The decision to hold such a poll in Northern Ireland rests with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

The full implementation and effective operation of the Good Friday Agreement is a priority for this Government. 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 of Ireland, North and South.

Under the Good Friday Agreement, the Irish and British Governments “recognise the legitimacy of whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland with regard to its status, whether they prefer to continue to support the Union with Britain or a sovereign united Ireland” and should such a choice be made in the future, it will be a binding obligation on both Governments to introduce and support in their respective Parliaments legislation to give effect to that wish.

The Government will continue to listen to and engage with the views of everyone on this island, both on rights issues and on the constitutional future that they wish to see for Northern Ireland. These are extremely important issues which naturally require very careful and serious consideration and the Government will continue to engage and reflect on them. It is for that reason that the Programme for Government has committed to establishing a Unit within the Department of An Taoiseach to work towards a consensus on a shared island. This unit will examine the political, social, economic and cultural considerations underpinning a future for this island in which all traditions are mutually respected.