IRISH Republican politician Martin McGuinness has claimed that there is a democratic responsibility to hold a referendum on a United Ireland should Britain elect to leave the EU.
The leader of Sinn Fein, the largest nationalist bloc in the Northern Irish parliament said “If Britain votes to leave the European Union then that could have huge implications for the entire island of Ireland and, given all the predictions, would run counter to the democratic wishes of the Irish people,”
Within the unionist movement the largest party, the Democratic Unionists are backing the Brexit campaign, but other unionists and the vast majority of the nationalist and neutral electorate are in favour of remaining within the EU.
McGuinness, a former IRA chief, is advocating a border poll which would mean an election held only within Northern Ireland itself, subsequently needing approval from both the government of Eire and the UK parliament.
That wouldn’t sit well with the majority of the nationalist republican movement. Polls indicate that a United Ireland vote held on in the six counties and not across the island would see a majority decide to remain within the UK, although this could change if Brexit comes into play.
Many republicans, however, would consider such a vote a sham, as they consider Northern Ireland simply to be an artificial entity carved out of British occupation, and would hope for a cross Ireland referendum on the issue.