Belfast Telegraph

Ireland ‘should have central role in EU peace project’

The bloc should provide a pluralist “European roof” for the process of Irish unification, its authors said.

Ireland should have a central role in shaping the EU peace project, a report said (Niall Carson/PA)
Ireland should have a central role in shaping the EU peace project, a report said (Niall Carson/PA)

By Michael McHugh, PA

Ireland should have a central role in shaping the EU peace project, a report said.

The bloc should provide a pluralist “European roof” for the process of Irish unification, its authors said.

The report was published in west Belfast on Monday.

It said: “If the EU takes seriously its own foundational values, and its commitment to the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, then planning and preparation for the moment when the principle of consent will be tested must begin now; it should form one part of the ongoing negotiations between the EU and UK.

“There is an opportunity for the EU to ensure that the island of Ireland continues to have a central role in shaping this supranational European peace project.

“Northern Ireland has an agreed way back and, in our view, the institutions of the EU can and should function in a supportive role by clarifying the consequences of this choice and facilitating a managed transition to new arrangements.”

The document entitled: The EU and Irish Unity: Planning and Preparing for Constitutional change in Ireland, was authored by Professor Colin Harvey from QUB and barrister Mark Bassett.

We have a democratic pathway back into the EU through an Irish unity referendum - this is part of the Good Friday Agreement Martina Anderson

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson attended the report launch.

She said: “We have a democratic pathway back into the EU through an Irish unity referendum. This is part of the Good Friday Agreement.

“It’s right that we prepare and plan for constitutional change on this island. The EU have a role in that too.”

He said: “A growing number of people on the island of Ireland believe that Irish unity is the democratic alternative to the unwanted Brexit being foisted upon citizens here, and Irish unity is now at the forefront of Irish politics.

“The real prospect of a referendum on Irish unity in the near future must also feature strongly in the ongoing Brexit negotiations between the EU and British Government.

“The EU have a key role to play in assisting the transition to Irish unity. The EU should ensure that negotiations on the future relationship post-Brexit give consideration to the right to self-determination as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement.”

He said it should also put in place structures to consider the impact of Irish unity and to ensure that the voices of people across the island are heard and consider what additional supports and arrangements need to be put in place in order to facilitate Irish unity.

“The EU must also bring political and diplomatic pressure to bear on the British Government to ensure they fulfil their obligations under the Good Friday Agreement, allow for self-determination and consent to the holding of a referendum on Irish unity.”

PA

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