Paschal Donohoe: 'Imperative' that post-Brexit agreement includes legal right to border poll

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has confirmed the Irish priorities set to be copper-fastened in a key European Council Brexit document this weekend will "underscore" the possibility of a united Ireland border poll taking place in the future.

Paschal Donohoe: 'Imperative' that post-Brexit agreement includes legal right to border poll

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Irish Examiner Political Correspondent

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has confirmed the Irish priorities set to be copper-fastened in a key European Council Brexit document this weekend will "underscore" the possibility of a united Ireland border poll taking place in the future.

Speaking at a media event in Dublin, after it emerged European leaders will consider allowing Northern Ireland to rejoin the EU in the event of a vote for Irish re-unification post-Brexit, Mr Donohoe said while he does not believe such a poll will take place in the near future, it is "imperative" the legal right to such a vote is include in a "post-Brexit legal environment".

Mr Donohoe said: "The Good Friday Agreement lays down the mechanisms under which a border poll will be triggered, and that is firstly the recognition of the secretary of state and secondly how the communities in the North would vote.

"I don't believe that poll is imminent, but what is imperative for this country is that the legal status and political relevance of the Good Friday Agreement is underscored in a post-Brexit legal environment.

"And that's what the Taoiseach and all of us have been working hard on for the next number of months," he said.

During the same event, Mr Donohoe said Ireland's insistence on having our priorities copper-fastened in the "first stage" of the Brexit negotiations will be "underscored" by the European Commission and European Council this weekend.

Mr Donohoe said the "recognition" of Ireland's priorities will be included in the conclusion document for this weekend's European Council meeting, before further Brussels documents based on these conclusions called directives copper-fasten the support in the coming weeks.

"We are confident that the conclusions that will emerge from the European Council are going to make reference to the very specific needs Ireland has, in relation to the movement of people, the border, the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.

"In the aftermath of that then, further documents will be issued which are called directives, they are still currently under negotiation as they will be until the conclusions until the last moment, and we are negotiating hard to make sure these are maintained and delivered.

"We are confident this will happen, president Tusk has just made an intervention this morning emphasising just how important these Irish issues are," he said.

More in this section