Belfast Telegraph

Brexit fallout could help united Ireland bid, says Fianna Fail chief Martin

By Sean O'Driscoll

Post-Brexit damage to Northern Ireland's economy could help the cause of Irish unity, the leader of the Republic's Fianna Fail party has claimed.

In an interview about a new party policy on Northern Ireland, Micheal Martin said Brexit could bring a united Ireland closer if economic consequences caused any difficulty.

The new Fianna Fail white paper will be published in four months time, he said.

Mr Martin said that Brexit could bring north and south further together or wider apart, depending on the economic consequences for Northern Ireland.

A drop in the economy will help the argument for a united Ireland, he added.

Mr Martin cautioned that Sinn Fein's call for a referendum on unity was "premature" and that Fianna Fail's approach to a united Ireland had moved well beyond the "fourth green field" model of previous eras, referring to the republican song demanding British withdrawal.

He said that the question now must be about what a united Ireland would look like, and to plan for it without upsetting unionist sensibilities.

He said that the benefits of a united Ireland would include a common enterprise agency that would attract foreign direct investment to the entire island, harmonised taxes for businesses, moves towards a common education curriculum for schools and better recognition of Leaving Cert and A-level results on either side of the border.

All-Ireland membership of the EU will include the benefits of common food safety and standards, and continued access to European research programmes for third-level institutions across Ireland, he told Dublin-based newspaper The Irish Times.

The united Ireland white paper will also include a cross-Border "development zone" that takes in Northern Ireland and the Republic's Border region.

The Irish government would also commission an independent assessment of the value of the block grant to Northern Ireland from Westminster, which the Government says will be some £10.9billion a year by 2020.

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