It has to be a united Ireland poll or nothing after Brexit fiasco

Posted By: April 14, 2019

Niall Murphy@IrishCentral. New York. Friday, April  12, 2019

Edited remarks by leading Northern Irish civil rights lawyer Niall Murphy at a New York event hosted by New York State Comptroller Tom Di Napoli.

I truly believe we are living in a historic moment, which many nationalists might not have considered possible, for perhaps another 15 or 20 years.

On  June 23, 2016, the people of the north voted to remain in the EU. We did so because it is in our best interests politically and economically.

The reckless and irresponsible rhetoric—which has conditioned the British government’s approach to effect what is extensively the political party wish of the right-wing of the British Conservative Party— has thrust the entire viability of the United Kingdom into terminal constitutional decline.

A second Independence Referendum in Scotland in inevitable and our own society is paralyzed by the constitutional paralysis, which in the early part of 2016, was not on the immediate envision of anyone; Protestant, Catholic or dissenter.

Let me be clear.

• The vast majority of people in Ireland, do not want Brexit.
• No one in Ireland sought a Brexit referendum.
• The overwhelming decision of the Referendum was that we want to remain in the European Union.
• Brexit is being forced upon us against our will.

Notwithstanding this clear democratic mandate, we as a society and a people are being dragged out of the European Union, against our will. We are expected to silently comply as the British Government plays Russian Roulette with our economic and constitutional futures and our rights as citizens. Our EU rights are being ripped from us.

The conviction of wider nationalist, democratic and progressive opinion in 1998 was that the Good Friday Agreement would ensure a break with the past and guarantee us and future generations peace, guaranteed rights, equality and respect in an Ireland which continued to democratically transform itself.

Nearly twenty-one years on, the GFA has still not been fully implemented. Some sections of political unionism still oppose its very existence. Many of the political fault lines within our politics and society remain unresolved.

Our hard-won peace process and its political architecture have too often been taken for granted. We may have peace, but we have not seen enough progress, and Brexit does not occur in a vacuum.

The Good Friday Agreement, which was overwhelmingly mandated by the people of Ireland on both sides of the border, provides an inbuilt democratic and legislative pathway out of this madness, with a border poll.

To call for a border poll is not reckless or irresponsible. It is our fundamental democratic right, and we will not be lectured that our fundamental aspiration is divisive. We will not be told that now is not the time. We will not be told that the debate is not happening.

The debate is happening, and it is happening because Brexit has changed everything. In recent weeks this debate has been acknowledged by the former President of Ireland and by the most senior members of our judiciary. This is a conversation which is happening in staff rooms, coffee shops, school car parks, at the side of football pitches up and down the country.

This debate needs to be informed by rationality and planning because this debate will not be characterized by the recklessness, ill-preparedness, and arrogance of the Brexit debate. The Irish Government, the EU, and the US administration need to begin planning for the inevitable. A border poll will happen.