Government ‘hiding’ risk of border poll by omission

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By Elaine Loughlin for The Irish Examinier


The Government has been accused of “hiding”’ sensitive issues from the public after it emerged that the possibility of a border poll will not be included in the National Risk Assessment.

While global warming, cyber security, the healthcare crisis, and even another referendum on Scottish independence are included in the draft report, the Government has not included the possibility of a referendum to unite Ireland in its assessment.

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming and senator Mark Daly said the omission and the claim from the Taoiseach that a border poll is not a risk leaves “a void” in the Government’s preparedness.

The two politicians will send a joint submission to the Government’s 2019 Draft National Risk Assessment today, asking that a future referendum on Irish unity be included in the final report.

The National Risk Assessment, published each year, is an opportunity to take a bird’s eye view of the most critical threats facing the country, and identifies strategic risks to Ireland’s future wellbeing.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has previously said he would like to see a united Ireland in his lifetime.

“I foresee a united Ireland at some point in the future,” he said in 2016, when he was Social Protection Minister.

However, responding to Mr. Fleming through a recent parliamentary question, Mr. Varadkar said the issue “would not be regarded as a risk” in the context of the annual assessment.

He added that “the very important and sensitive policy issue related to it would not be dealt with in the Risk Assessment process”.

Mr Fleming said:

This reply leaves a void in the National Risk Assessment process. What other issues has the Taoiseach decided are too sensitive to be dealt with in the National Risk Assessment and have been hidden from the people of Ireland?

In March, Mr Daly wrote to the Taoiseach, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, all ministers, and chairs of the Government’s Risk Committee, to request their policy preparations on uniting the people of Ireland. To date, none have been received.

Mr Daly said: “As I have said before, the Brexit referendum has taught Ireland an important lesson: You do not hold a referendum until there is debate and discussion with all sides and all necessary preparations are made.

“Policy neglect seldom goes unpunished and this is very true of the lack of policy preparation for a referendum on a new agreed Ireland by the Government.”

He said the Taoiseach and his Government must now consider the implications of a border poll, especially in the context of Brexit.

He said Sylvia Hermon, Independent Unionist MP for North Down, was right when she said Brexit will change everything and that she is now certain there will be a border poll in her lifetime.

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