Thursday 8 December 2016

Europol boss says Border poll poses no threat

Taoiseach: it’s good to talk about Irish unity

Niall O'Connor and Kevin Doyle

Published 21/07/2016 | 02:30

Catering for the future: Taoiseach Enda Kenny Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Catering for the future: Taoiseach Enda Kenny Photo: Colin O'Riordan

The head of the EU's policing agency has said he does not believe Ireland would see an increase in violence in the event of a future Border poll being passed.

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Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol, said Ireland has "come a long way since the Troubles" and that he is "rather optimistic" reunification would not lead to a return of terrorism activity.

Speaking to reporters at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Mr Wainright warned that Brexit has "potential implications" for the sharing of intelligence on organised crime.

But he said he did not have any specific concerns about the prospect of a united Ireland.

"The issue is entirely a political one of course, again it's for the governments of Ireland and the UK to deal with and comment on it and certainly not for me," Mr Wainright initially said, when asked about the recent momentum behind a poll taking place.

"Would there be a concern? I'm not sure, I think we have come a long way since the Troubles. The Ireland that we see today is very, very different to what we saw all those years ago.

"I hate to think that we would slip back into something like that, and I am rather optimistic that we wouldn't whatever the cause might be," he added.

However, the newly appointed Northern Ireland Secretary moved yesterday to effectively rule out a referendum on Irish unity.

James Brokenshire told MPs he does not believe that the conditions required to call a border poll have been met.

His comments, made during his House of Commons debut in his new role, came after Taoiseach Enda Kenny raised the prospect of a future vote on Irish unity in the wake of Brexit.

Mr Kenny said EU/UK negotiations should factor in the possibility that a Border poll could be held in years to come.

But his intervention prompted fury from Unionists.

Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, asked Mr Brokenshire to "spell out" the fact that there is "no question" of a Border poll. Mr Brokenshire replied: "I have been quite straightforward in relation to the issue of the Border poll.

Conditions

"The conditions are set out very clearly in relation to the Belfast Agreement and I have been very clear that I do not think those conditions have been met."

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement the power to call a border poll rests with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

But the accord stipulates that such a vote can only be called if there is evidence of a clear shift of public opinion in favour of Irish unity in Northern Ireland.

In the Dáil yesterday, Mr Kenny said: "There is never anything wrong with talking about these issues."

However, he accepted there will be no Border poll in the near future.

"There is no evidence of a majority wanting to join the Republic. My point is a different one in that it is about catering for the future, in whatever number of years.

"If that were ever to be triggered there is an opportunity to deal with that consequence in the discussions. That is all.

"It has nothing to do with immediacy in terms of border polls," Mr Kenny said.

Irish Independent

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