The Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement launched a report today entitled Brexit and the Future of Ireland Uniting Ireland & Its People in Peace & Prosperity.
The report examines issues around Brexit and the a United Ireland and is a lengthy document.
Here are some of the key recommendations from the committee;
The Irish government must negotiate for Northern Ireland to be
designated with special status within the EU and for the whole island
of Ireland to have a unique solution as part of the Brexit negotiation.
Any passport controls between Ireland and the UK should be along the
same basis as for people traveling between these islands from 1939 to
1952. There should not be a return to passport controls on the borders
between the North and South of Ireland.
It is recognised that World Trade Organisation rules and a hard border
would have a detrimental impact on Ireland North and South & Further
impact assessment is required on the economic impact of reunification
On Irish unity;
The establishment of a New Ireland Forum 2 is recommended to set a
pathway to achieve the peaceful reunification of Ireland.
Establish an international task force with experts in security so that plans to
meet any risks may be devised and implemented.
Fears and concerns of the Unionist community need to be examined,
understood and addressed comprehensively by all stakeholders in advance
of any referendum.
The legacy issues in society outlined by Senator Frances Black and the
inter- generational impact of the troubles in terms of mental health
consequences and substance abuse needs to be addressed.
The Government needs to carry out an audit in relation to the
legal and constitutional changes pre and post-unification.
There are some interesting recommendations in the report and hopefully this goes some way towards starting further initiatives on this topic. One of the authors of the report is Senator Mark Daly who in today’s Irish Independent noted the following;
We need to start a discussion on the issues surrounding unifying Ireland. A New Ireland Forum 2 is required, made up of experts on all the issues. We should ask our European colleagues, the Germans, what their experience was, what they would do differently if they had to do unification all over again.
The challenge for the Republic is great; we need to create a society and a country where we improve the lives of all those living on this island. We must talk about, and work towards, creating a new society, not as it is today but how we want it to be in the future. We must strive to make a better country for all the people on this island.
One thing I really liked about the Senators approach is that it takes us away from the logic that (I would ban this statement if I could) that a united Ireland is inevitable and that all those who want change need to do is sit out the clock. The fact is more work needs to be done and the gaps in knowledge highlighted by this report need to be addressed. We need to have not just the facts, but a narrative for why this needs to happen and why people should take the punt on a different arrangement. Nothing is inevitable in politics and those who simply say that this will come ignore the fact that change only happens when people work for it and have a clear alternative. Inevitably encourages laziness and getting people to engage in no new thinking or debates. This debate have to be conducted everywhere and seen as an attempt to build the biggest, broadest tent possible.
We must prove that what Anatole France once said was true;
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.”
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs