Dublin’s Brexit Solution: A Super-Majority Clause And An Irish Sea Border?

A thought occurs to me reading a Comment by a reader under the discussion on Leo Varadkar’s suggestion that a super-majority threshold would be necessary for any referendum on reunification held in the British-administered Six Counties. Is this idea a bit of kite-flying by An Taoiseach to see what response he receives from the leaders of political unionism in the north-east? It’s been reported that the Fine Gael-led government – with a nod-and wink from Fianna Fáil – is working to have the north designated as a Special Region of the European Union and the United Kingdom. In effect, a shared economic zone of both, while leaving overall sovereignty with the UK. This would give the contested territory access to the EU single market, under the umbrella regulations of the European Economic Area (EEA), with some bespoke version of the Customs Union ensuring a continued “soft border” on the island (or arguably, a form of “soft reunification”). This might, or might not, require greater customs’ and immigration checks between Ireland and Britain. In practical terms, the technical difficulties for such a solution are not insurmountable. Though it would be politically difficult for the minority Tory administration in London and its parliamentary allies in the Democratic Unionist Party.

Which is where the 70%+ plebiscite rule may come into play. Are the political cliques in Dublin hoping to buy off unionist opposition to a half-way house for the Six Counties between the EU and the UK, including a potential “Irish Sea customs border” of some sort, with the promise of a super-majority clause to protect the future of Britain’s historical colony in Ireland? One which would copper-fasten partition on a permanent basis? Rendering the votes of a future northern nationalist majority invalid in the face of opposition from a significant pro-union minority?

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13 comments

  1. It is very clear that the British State has learned nothing, and will do nothing, to resolve the post war situation in the North. They have quite casually, and with detectable malice and spite, wrecked the Peace Treaty. They have shredded it, by abandoning the treaty provisions that the UK, US and Irish Governments are a neutral
    guarantee body, to protect the nationalist community in the North. The Tories have now openly sided with the Ulster unionist and loony party, to ignore the treaty, cease their supervisory role, and openly side with one of the nastiest and reactionary right wing parties in the EU. The treaty is now effectively dead, the Unionists are now openly demanding a hard BREXIT, and a hard border, and restoration of the status of the North before Stormont collapsed. This is giving them the illusion that they have now won the “Zero-Sum game” in the North. Well, they have not. What they are now well on their way too now is wrecking the de-facto peace, polarising the two communities, and bringing in a great danger of the war restarting. What a disaster,and the consequences of this are going to be very serious. If we are lucky, violence will not immediately renew, as people wait to see what happens, after a hard BREXIT. but beyond Spring of 2019, I cannot see any likelihood of a reasonable settlement after a hard exit. The economic and social and political consequences of this are terrible. Violence will then be inevitable.. Even those former Republican combatants that actually tried, very hard, to make the peace treaty and and the peace process work, will walk away from it in disgust. Violence is then inevitable. (it does not take an army to restart the war. it takes just a small cluster of dissident nationalists, who will be then beyond SF control, and we shall see a repeat of the PROVO split. The explosive effects of very small bombs can be lived with, but the political effects of small bombs, are massive. This is something that the UK goverment has never understood, and does not want to understand, and there is a serious danger, post BREXIT, of renewed armed struggle, with all its horrors, unless something is done. Nothing of course, will be done, as the Tories understand nothing about Ireland, and the new Irish Carpet bagger Prime minister is doing a passable imitation of a Quisling. God help Ireland. Anyone got any suggestions?. discuss. We have 15 months before BREXIT. Bombs are not the only things that are ticking, now.

  2. “a super-majority threshold” – negates what was written in the Belfast Agreement/GFA,

    It talked of a 50+1 simple majority. If the new post-brexit dispensation upholds the GFA (as PM May and the EU parliament said it would) then an taoiseach is talking through his hat!! Or is ready to break the GFA Treaty (new best friends with the DUP?)

    Otherwise, the only reason I can discern for this flight in the face of reality is a desire for Fine Gael to maintain their 26 county republic, unbesmirched by Northerners, of whatever hue and persuasion

  3. The suggestion of super majority I sincerely hope is kicked into the long grass, shelved or buried. Only in place to try and sweeten the pill that the DUP most surely would choke on, an Irish Sea EU border. It does demonstrate, as if demonstration was needed, the loose commitment to democracy these two sets of political unionist have when trying to hold on to power. Demographics show reunification will happen within a generation. Indeed a few hard winters and probably sooner.
    Is this the result of recent Clinton talks ? Pandering to the fears of an extreme unionist party that refuse to accept the inevitable reunification, by democratic means.

    1. Edit; by two sets of unionist I mean Westminster government and the DUP. What promises or pressure was brought to bear for An Taoiseach to fly such a kite ? Or is it as Benmadigan mentions above fear of a SF dilution of the FG and FF vote.
      The horizon suddenly looks a lot more stormy.

      1. The last thing the Republic needs or wants is violence upsetting the economic recovery. It’s not ALL about Sinn Fein, whose reason for existence may evaporate after unity.

    2. Personally, I have never believed that unionist leaders will accept a majority vote on reunification in the Six Counties. If it looks like they will lose before hand, they will boycott it. If they lose by surprise they will try to have the result overturned, legally, politically and eventually on the streets.

      If none of that works then expect Partition Mark II to be raised, with Belfast, Antrim, Down, north Armagh and east Derry up for grabs, ensuring an artificial unionist majority in a new “Northern Ireland” for another hundred years.

  4. During the Peace Process I remember reading a piece in the very pro-Unionist (British) Independent newspaper by an English journalist, Jack O’Sullivan, in which he declared that Irish nationalists/republicans would have to abandon any idea of a united Ireland – even if a majority in Northern Ireland supported it. It didn’t take a genius to work out that O’Sullivan was voicing the real view of the British establishment – very much including New Labour – a party dominated by pro-Unionists like Peter Mandelson. Contrary to their claims – the Unionists – and much more importantly, their London Neocon controllers – never gave a hoot about “majority consent” – they simply used it as a rhetorical stick to beat Irish nationalists with. After all the whole basis of the Northern Orange statelet was a massive illegal armed rebellion by a large swathe of the British establishment against the will of the British parliament. Because republicans traditionally despised the British parliament and the idea of Redmondite Home Rule they don’t tend to dwell on the criminal roots of modern Unionism. That’s understandable, but since they now tread the constitutional path, surely it’s time they started pointing out how violently anti-democratic and anti-parliamentary Orangeism has always been. As someone once wrote in a letter to the Irish News, we need much more what-aboutery on the nationalist side.

  5. “Surely it’s time they started pointing out how violently anti-democratic and anti-parliamentary Orangeism has always been”.

    Lots of posts pointing that out on eurofree3.wordpress.com
    Take your pick and spread the word!!!

      1. Might be question of them having to agree, if the 311 mile border could not be held during the Northern campaign how so now? Plus it would be easy for dissidents to slot a few Garda.

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