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I have drafted a response as follows:

In his response to my letter (January 3) about the process of Irish re-unification, MIKE BURKE (January 6)  cites the report of The Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland as proposing "a comprehensive veto for the north over many key aspects of a united Ireland, including its constitutional form, principal political institutions, national symbols and major public policies" and states that he working group's proposal violates the Good Friday Agreement and repudiates the democratic votes ratifying it.

I wouldn't characterize the report of Working Group (to which I made a submission) in quite those clear-cut terms, but there is certainly a recognition that the result of a 50%+1 referendum cannot be an all or nothing affair, if the 49.9% are not going to be extremely disgruntled as a result. However, nationalists are entitled to ask, "where was the concern for minority rights when N. Ireland was set up and governed in the first place, and what accommodations are unionists prepared to make to nationalists in the event of a narrow border poll vote in favour of a retention of the union with Britain?".

If unionists are not prepared to make significant concessions to nationalists in the event of a vote in favour of a retention of the existing union, they can expect few concessions if the result is a vote for a united Ireland.

In that eventuality, my suggestion is that the existing Good Friday Agreement governance institutions for Northern Ireland should be retained at least for a lengthy transition period, with N. Ireland Assembly members being appointed to the Irish Senate and empowered to pass or reject legislation insofar as it applies to N. Ireland. This should, of course, only apply to devolved matters currently within the purview of the Assembly. Matters currently decided in London should be transferred to Dublin with the transfer of Sovereignty in line with the Good Friday Agreement.

Direct rule from Dublin should only apply in the event of the Executive collapsing, as is the case with direct rule from London now. Northern Ireland's Westminster representation should be transferred to the Dail and increased in line with constituency population sizes in the south. The Good Friday Agreement makes no provision for a unionist or nationalist veto in the event of a transfer of sovereignty following a border poll, and it should remain a foundational document as part of our constitution, guaranteeing equality of esteem for all as part of the new dispensation in a united Ireland.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 6th, 2022 at 09:24:47 PM EST
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