Varadkar accused of failing to make preparations for poll on united Ireland

Mark Daly, a senator with the country’s main opposition party Fianna Fail, criticised Leo Varadkar.

Irish premier Leo Varadkar has been accused of not making any of the “necessary preparations” for the possible reunification of Ireland.

Mark Daly, a senator with the country’s main opposition party Fianna Fail, said that two years after a report detailing the measures that needed to be implemented before a referendum on a united Ireland could come to fruition, not one recommendation had been actioned by the Irish government.

He called on the government to implement the report’s recommendations in full as soon as possible.

In August 2017, an Oireachtas cross-party committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement published a document entitled Brexit And The Future Of Ireland: Uniting Ireland & Its People In Peace & Prosperity’.

It contained 17 recommendations relating to a united Ireland.

Among them was the establishment of a New Ireland forum to set a pathway to achieve the peaceful reunification of Ireland. It also called for an international task force comprising security experts to be set up so that plans to meet any risks may be devised and implemented.

It said the fears and concerns of the unionist community in Northern Ireland needed to be examined in advance of any potential referendum on a united Ireland and that further research needed to be carried out into the income and expenditure of the region.

Fianna Fail senator Mark Daly accused Irish premier Leo Varadkar of not doing any ‘necessary preparation’ in advance of a possible reunification of Ireland.(Fianna Fail/PA)

“Absolutely none of the recommendations of the all-party committee have been implemented, this is a clear case of policy neglect and policy neglect seldom goes unpunished,” Mr Daly said.

“The Taoiseach [Leo Varadkar] has spoken as recently as the McGill summer school on the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland, especially faced as we are now with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, yet he is doing none of the necessary preparation in advance of the possible/probable referendum on a new agreed Ireland.”

Mr Daly added: “Brexit has taught us many lessons, the most important being, you do not hold a referendum without the prior work being completed, any referendum on a united Ireland needs the preparation to start now, not when we are faced with the question at the ballot box.”

Speaking at the McGill summer school last Friday, Mr Varadkar said that a no-deal Brexit would prompt more liberal unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland to consider joining a united Ireland.

He also said that those uncomfortable with a “nationalistic” Britain which is considering reintroducing the death penalty could join forces to support Irish unity and continued membership of the EU.

Mr Daly has been working with a number of experts to produce research reports to address many of the committee’s recommendations, including Michael Ortiz who served as the first US diplomat focused on countering violent extremism, based at the US Department of State during the Obama Administration.

He has also been working with two Unesco chairmen, Professor Pat Dolan and Professor Mark Brennan. They recently published a report on youth and peace in Northern Ireland, which warned of the possible return to violence in the region as a result of a no-deal Brexit or a rushed border poll.

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