Section 4: Brexit and the Future of Ireland, Uniting Ireland its People in Peace and Prosperity

Please see below summary to Section 4 of the report “Brexit and the Future of Ireland, Uniting Ireland its People in Peace and “. Section 4 in full is available at the link

Section 4 Uniting Ireland and Its People in Peace and Prosperity


In light of Brexit and the challenges it poses for all sides in Ireland, the words of

Attorney General Rory Brady (2002-2007) in the foreword to now High Court Justice

Richard Humphreys book “Countdown to Unity” have never been more relevant.

“It is now for the political world to address when and how it will embrace those

challenges and induce that change”

“Unity may have been redefined by the new Articles 2 & 3 of the Constitution but it has

remained as a constitutional imperative (obligation). The guarantee that violence will

not be used to effect constitutional change is merely one commitment. In parallel to that

and of equal importance is the duty to give effect to the firm will of the Irish Nation ‘to

unite all the people who share the territory of the Island of Ireland”

‘Countdown to Unity’ identifies how the objective of Unity might be put in place

through legal and constitutional measures. This report will highlight briefly those legal,

legislative and constitutional measures that can be taken to strengthen the case for

unity as outlined by Humphreys.

Up until the Brexit vote on June 23rd 2016 the concept of a United Ireland as outlined

in Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution for many would seem a distant aspiration. Brexit

means that the best future for the citizens of Northern Ireland could well be remaining in

the European Union in a reunified Ireland. This option must be explored and examined.

The challenge now is to lay out how to achieve the constitutional obligation of a united


As John Bradley in his paper ‘Toward an All Island Economy’ presented at Queens

University Belfast in 2014 pointed out “the extreme importance of strategic economic

planning ………policy errors or policy neglect seldom goes unpunished”3 As this is

a truism of economic planning it is also critically important when it come to the issue

of planning for Unification. The UN human development index ranks the Republic of

Ireland as 6th in the world and ranks Northern Ireland at 44th.

However, aside from the New Ireland Forum, the Oireachtas Library and Research

service in Leinster House could not find any current or historic reports produced by

Brexit and the future of Ireland

2 | The Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday agreement

a parliamentary committee on how the state should achieve its main aim of a united


As is pointed out in ‘Countdown to Unity’ published in 2009, 7 years prior to the Brexit

vote, Justice Humphreys stated there were a number of reasons why a debate and a

policy are appropriate at this time.

In this section we look at High Court Justice Humphrey’s reasons why, other than

Brexit, the issue of unification should be looked at.

Firstly the radically different context for the discussion on unity which exists now

compared to any time over the last nine decades since partition. Secondly the case

for unity now actively being made, support for a United Ireland by 79%*17A in the south

along with as Humphrey’s states “increasing over all vote for the two nationalist parties

in Northern Ireland”4 demonstrated by the Assembly results of the 3rd of March 2017.

Finally, as Justice Humphreys states himself “but in the end perhaps most compelling,

reason for an examination of the implications of unity is the fact that the constitution

itself, in article 3, inserted pursuant to the Good Friday Agreement, refers to unity as

the ‘firm will of the Irish Nation’”.5

Specially commissioned research carried out by the Oireachtas Library and Research

Service for this report outlines the positions of all the main political parties on the

Island, north and south, on the issue of unification.It is republished within this section

in full. Professor Sean D. McGraw of Notre Dame University in his submission for

the Joint Committees Report outlines his research of Irish Parliamentarians Attitudes

Towards a united Ireland.

Attorney General Brady states in the Foreword to High Court Justice Humphreys Book

‘Countdown to Unity’ that “While Consent is a fundamental characteristic of change, Dr

Humphreys makes it plain that it cannot be an excuse for political inertia”6. High Court

Justice Humphreys discusses the issue of political status-quoism due to the concern

that loyalist paramilitaries could be provoked and attempt to subvert the pursuit of

the aim of the Irish people to peacefully achieve a united Ireland as provided for in

the Good Friday Agreement. Senator Daly as rapporteur of this report requested

White House, National Security Council, Senior Policy advisor on counter terrorism

Brexit and the future of Ireland

The Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday agreement | 3

in President Obama’s administration and the first US diplomat focused on countering

violent extremism policy at the State Department Michael R. Ortiz to give a submission

on how the threat of future loyalist paramilitary violence attempting to subvert a

referendum and unification could be addressed. Anne Cadwallader of the Pat Finuance

Center and author of Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland outlines the collusion

of the past between the British Security forces and loyalist paramilitaries, she makes

recommendations how such collusion could be prevented in the future as Ireland

pursues unification.

Kevin Meagher an advisor to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Shaun

Woodward 2007-09,outlines in a submission to the Committee his view on the position

that the British Government should adopt towards the future of Northern Ireland.

Expert in German unification, Professor Christian Tomuschat from Berlin University

made a submission to the Committee report. The United Nations report on the on-going

progress in Cyprus reunification is also published in full. Professor Marcus Noland,

former senior economist at the Council of Economic Advisers in the Executive Office of

the President of the United States, is also a specialist on the issue of Korean unification

and outlines some of the lessons for Ireland.

High Court Justice Humphrey in his book ‘Countdown to Unity’ states that “there is

no one single pathway to unity – rather there are alternative, but perhaps related

roadmaps to reunification”7

In this section the options by Justice Humphreys are outlined.These include Unitary

State, Federal/Confederal, United Ireland with continuation of Northern Assembly under

the Good Friday Agreement, Joint Authority, Joint Sovereignty, Independent Northern

Ireland, Repartition, and Repatriation.

‘Irish Man of the 20th Century’ T K Whittaker stated in November 1968 in a ‘Note on

North-South Border Policy’ the long term nature of achieving a United Ireland,

Brexit and the future of Ireland

4 | The Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday agreement

‘We were, therefore, left with only one choice, a policy of seeking unity in

Ireland between Irishmen. Of its nature this is a long-term policy, requiring

patience, understanding and forbearance and resolute resistance to

emotionalism and opportunism. It is not the less patriotic for that’

T K Whittaker

‘Note on North-South Border Policy’

T. K. Whittaker ‘s transcript memorandum titled “A note on North South Border

Policy” November 1968 is in the appendix in full


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 counter terrorism so that

the insights of Michael Ortiz, White House, National Security Council, Senior

Policy advisor on counter terrorism in Presidents Obama administration could be

examined, a plan devised and implemented.


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