The post-referendum effects of the Brexit vote in the UK continue to ripple out across the European Union, lapping up on the shores of Ireland with increasing force and urgency. In the space of a few days the leaders of the two largest political parties in the country, Enda Kenny of Fine Gael and Micheál Martin of Fianna Fáil, have tentatively staked out headline-making ground on territory formerly ceded to the republican and progressive left. Though, admittedly, with a singular lack of enthusiasm. From the Irish Times:
“Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that the prospect of a future border poll on the re-unification of Ireland should be included as part of the negotiations between the EU and the United Kingdom on the Britain’s departure from the bloc.
Speaking at the MacGill summer school in Glenties Co Donegal last night, Mr Kenny departed from his prepared script to raise the prospect of a border poll at some point in the future.
He compared the possibility of the North joining the Republic and immediately becoming part of the EU to the reunification of Germany in 1990. Mr Kenny said that the EU-UK negotiations should take account of the possibility.
On Sunday night at MacGill, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also raised the prospect of a future border poll…
Sinn Féin has upped its campaigning for a border poll in the wake of the British referendum, in which the North voted to remain in the EU.
Later, the Taoiseach told reporters that the coming negotiations should examine the possibility.
“In the same way as East Germany was dealt with when the wall came down, was able to be absorbed into West Germany and not to have a tortuous and long process applying for membership of the European Union.
Asked if such an eventuality could actually happen, the Taoiseach implied it was possible. “Well, people said it would be impossible that Britain would leave the European Union,” he said.”
While one can be justifiably cynical about the sudden interest of the political right and centre-right in the reunification of our country, however cautiously phrased, it is still noteworthy. It would be ironic indeed if the irreconcilable divisions within the British establishment in London had so imperilled the pampered continuity of the Irish establishment in Dublin that a reunited Ireland was actually the least worse option. Self-preservation is a wonderful thing indeed.