Guy Verhofstadt, the chief Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament, has suggested that the number of MEPs representing Ireland should be increased from eleven to fourteen, incorporating the three seats currently allocated to the constituency covering the British-administered Six Counties. The apparent aim is to ensure the continued representation of Irish and European Union citizens resident in the disputed region at Strasbourg and Brussels. It’s certainly an innovative idea and one with much logic and merit behind it. However one cannot imagine the United Kingdom greeting it with any great enthusiasm, given its post-referendum swing to isolationism. Likewise, Dublin may find it difficult to swallow for its own party political reasons, considering the likely beneficiary would be Sinn Féin. Unionists would almost certainly boycott any future election for the EU legislature, and the logistics of it, let alone the threats from British separatist violence, would seem to make it a nonstarter.
All that said, following Britain’s eventual exit from Europe the inhabitants of the Six Counties will suddenly find themselves in a unique position, forming the largest community of EU citizens legally resident and indigenous to a region technically outside of the European Union’s borders. They will continue to be dual nationals of Ireland, the EU and the United Kingdom by virtue of international treaties between the former and latter parties. Which will certainly persuade someone somewhere to mount a legal challenge to any exclusion of their representation from the parliament in Strasbourg. Fun times ahead.