Brexit could be blocked by a referendum in the Republic of Ireland
They argue because the Republic will be effected by Brexit in terms of trade and potentially in terms of freedom of movement, citizens should be allowed to vote on whether or not Article 50 is even triggered – and, if so, under what conditions.
While Northern Irish citizens were allowed to vote in June’s in-out referendum because the state is a part of the United Kingdom, those living in the independent Republic of Ireland were not given as vote.
Instead they were forced to watch on in concern as the UK voted to Leave the EU – albeit with Northern Ireland voting overwhelmingly to remain.
“I think [a referendum in the Republic of Ireland] is unavoidable,” said Brendan Halligan of the Dublin think-tank The Institute of International and European Affairs.
“If this treaty results in a major disruption to the Irish economy, a deterioration of the exchequer’s position and the introduction of UK tariffs on some sensitive Irish agri-food products, will the Irish electorate vote Yes? Unlikely.”
Irish leader Enda Kenny standing in front of the Irish and European Union flags
Professor Gavin Barrett, speaking at the same seminar attended by Mr Halligan, agreed a referendum in Ireland could take place.
He said: “The consequences of getting that decision wrong are very severe. If there is even a strong possibility that a referendum is needed, then you have to have a referendum.”
Prof Barrett did concede, however, the likelihood of such an controversial vote taking place were slim.
Northern Ireland's citizens were allowed to vote on Brexit – unlike those in the Repbulic
He said: “In principle, I don’t see any particular reason why a shrinkage of the European Union should trigger a referendum either.”
Other attendees also dismissed a vote taking place in the Republic of Ireland.
Catherine Day, former director general of the European Commission, said she did not believe triggering Article 50 would require an Irish vote.
London Brexit protest: Thousands 'March for Europe'
Sat, July 2, 2016
Brexit protest: Thousands take to London's streets in pro-EU protest 'March for Europe'.
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Remain supporters demonstrate during the March for Europe rally in Parliament Square, London
She said: “You can never get away from the fact that even if you don’t have to have a referendum, sometimes people propose them.”
Brexit has divided opinion in the Republic of Ireland – which remains one of the UK’s few remaining EU allies due to long-standing social and economic links.
While Prime Minister Theresa May has said a special travel area will remain between the two countries, and confirmed there would be no return to a hard border with Northern Ireland, Brexit has nonetheless unsettled politicians and citizens alike.
Brexit will have a harsh economic impact on the Republic of Ireland
This concern about Brexit’s economic and social impact on the Republic of Ireland was not tempered when Mrs May refused an invitation to speak to the Irish parliament during a visit this month – a snub Nick Clegg said showed the PM had “lost the plot”.
He said yesterday: “So, PM rushes to be photographed with Trump and Erdogan but won’t find time to speak to Irish Dail. Has No.10 completely lost the plot?”