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Border poll can't be chaotic like Brexit, warns Dublin TD


Jim O’Callaghan

Jim O’Callaghan

Doug Beattie

Doug Beattie


Jim O’Callaghan

The author of a new paper on what a future united Ireland could look like has said lessons should be learned from Brexit when it comes to avoiding a "chaotic" poll.

Fianna Fail member of the Dail Jim O'Callaghan said he put forward some ideas which "need to be in place if there ever was to be a border poll in the future".

The TD for Dublin Bay South, who is widely tipped to be a future leader of the party, laid out his current thinking in a speech to the University of Cambridge.

Mr O'Callaghan said interest in the paper "reflects that there are a lot of people outside the island of Ireland who are having a discussion about reunification".

"One thing that can't happen is that we would have a border poll in the same way as Brexit - people vote for a united Ireland and they've no idea what they're voting for," he said.

"It would be chaotic if we didn't try to respond to reasonable questions that are raised."

Mr O'Callaghan said he considered what a new country would look like constitutionally and what the economic consequences would be, as well as how the British identity for unionists would be respected, retained and recognised in a new unified state.

"My vision of a united Ireland does not involve some form of a takeover," he told the BBC Sunday Politics Programme.

"It is everyone on island coming together and trying to resolve and initiate a new country."

He added: "It would improve the standard of living, the quality of life and the economy of Northern Ireland."

Ulster Unionist Doug Beattie told the programme that he found Mr O'Callaghan's paper "interesting" but he added that some of the TD's arguments were "flawed".

"It is a fair aspiration for people to strive for a united Ireland through peaceful means just as it is a fair aspiration for me to strive to remain in the United Kingdom through peaceful means," the Upper Bann MLA said.

"But I don't think he's come up with a killer blow that tells us that we all have to troop into a united Ireland. I just don't see it."

Reacting to the idea that a united Ireland would be a merger rather than a hostile takeover, Mr Beattie described himself as "a constitutional unionist" and "not an economic unionist".

"I want to belong to the four nation union of the United Kingdom," Mr Beattie said.

"Create a new constitution and let us see what it's going be... what is the flag going to be, what is the anthem going to be, how's the justice system going to work?"

Mr O'Callaghan delivered his speech to Sidney Sussex College last Tuesday. Under his proposals, one of the two chambers of an all-Ireland parliament could be based in Belfast if the island united.

He also said unionists could be guaranteed cabinet positions.

Belfast Telegraph

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