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1 October 2014 Edition

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After Scotland – A Border poll for Ireland

Editorial • Eagarfhocal

The Scottish referendum campaign engaged and empowered the people. It demonstrated that change is possible.

SCOTLAND’S referendum seeking independence from Westminster may have been lost but the social and political debate it has energised isn’t over.

Things will never be the same again – for Scotland or elsewhere.

Faced with a possible shock defeat on 18 September, the panic-stricken leaders of the three main Westminster unionist parties (Tories, Liberal Democrats and Labour) scurried to Scotland in the closing days of the campaign. They brandished a solemn “vow” of extended fiscal and social policy powers to the Scottish Parliament to head off the rising challenge of the ‘Yes’ to independence movement.

The fear factor fostered by the mainstream media and the eleventh hour vow by Westminster won the day for the ‘No’ side over ‘Yes’, 55% to 45%.

The result in Scotland raises two issues for Ireland.

The first is the immediate need to transfer powers to enable the Executive to act in the interests of the people. The second is the need for an informed and respectful discussion on the future constitutional position in a Border poll.

The North faces unique economic and social challenges as it emerges from conflict, decades of under-investment by successive British governments, and the inter-related and inter-dependent nature of the economy, North and South.

The North needs the full suite of powers to grow the economy, sustain jobs, safeguard public services and maintain a welfare system. These powers should rest in the hands of the democratically-elected Executive.

The Scottish referendum campaign engaged and empowered the people. It demonstrated that change is possible. The Good Friday Agreement provides for a Border poll.

It is time for all the people who share this island to have a respectful and informed debate on the future. Is the way forward Irish unity or continued partition?

The people here, like our Scottish cousins, should be given the opportunity in a Border poll to determine the constitutional position.

That is the democratic way forward.


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