Kenny says ‘No’
The 26-County Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out any political moves towards a united Ireland by 2016, the centenary of the Easter Rising, despite a historic step towards Scottish independence this week.
Pressure for a border poll on Irish reunification has grown following an agreement in London to hold a referendum on Scottish independence in two years time.
The announcement ended months of stalemate between the Westminster government in London and the Scottish devolved administration in Edinburgh.
Last week in Cleveland in the US, Mr Kenny told Irish-Americans that “one day” both parts of Ireland would become a single state, while the current priority was “keeping peace on the streets”.
But back at home in the Dublin parliament, Mr Kenny told the Dail the priority of the 26 County state must be to rectify its own public finances.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams expressed disappointment at Kenny’s refusal to hold a unity referendum.
“Partition has failed the people of this island,” the Louth TD said. “It is uneconomic, unjust and inefficient. Now is the right time for a debate on this issue in the context of rebuilding the economies on this island and beginning a process of dialogue and consultation around Irish unity.
“Yesterday the British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond agreed on a date for a referendum on Scottish independence.
“The British Union is now a live debating issue and the people of Scotland will have their say in 2014.”
The Sinn Fein leader pointed out that under the Good Friday Agreement there is provision for a border poll.
He said: “There is an onus on the Irish government to prepare a strategy, a plan, in co-operation with others, and including a Green Paper on Irish unity, that has the Irish government take the lead on the issue of Irish unity, including the setting of a date for a border poll.”
Welcoming the Taoiseach’s remarks in Cleveland, Mr Adams said this is “one of the great historic challenges facing the Irish people at the start of the 21st century.”
“A united Ireland will only happen when those of those who believe that partition is a costly, inefficient, bureaucratic duplication of services on this island, persuade those who wish to retain the union, that Irish unity will be better for them and for their children.
“We have to demonstrate in practical ways why working as partners and living together as equals on this island is better.”