- The Irish government had previously called upon the EU to provide assurance that a future united Ireland would automatically be recognised as part of the European Union, in much the same way as east German was recognised after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. This statement of assurance was unofficially referred to as the ‘GDR clause’, after the German Democratic Republic which inspired it.
- EU leaders were unanimous in providing the requested assurance, and a clause in the 1998 Belfast Agreement (aka The Good Friday Agreement) already guarantees a referendum on Northern Ireland leaving the UK should the majority of voters desire one.
- A poll carried out by Ipsos Mori last September indicated that only 22% of voters in Northern Ireland would vote for a united Ireland, but 62% would vote to remain in the UK.
- Politicians have been vocal on both sides of the issue, with some accusing the EU of meddling in British politics and threatening the union, and others calling for a referendum to be held as soon as possible.
The biggest issue in Ireland right now is the possibility of a hard border being introduced between it and Northern Ireland after Brexit – something that former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has said would be a disaster. Whilst a united Ireland would obviously render a hard border unnecessary, that is not the only way to avoid it, and with Northern Irish voters not being particularly keen to leave the UK (according to the poll carried out by Ipsos Mori last year) it is very likely that an alternative solution will be sought.
Holding a referendum on a united Ireland is something that could potentially destabilise the region, a concern that is likely to prevent it from happening in the new future. That being the case, it seems sensible to bet on there being no referendum taking place before the end of 2020.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip: No referendum before the end of 2020 – 1/8
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.