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
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
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.