Irish border poll far too divisive at this stage – Taoiseach

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin has ruled out a border poll as “far too divisive at this stage”.

r Martin said he instead wants to focus on building relationships to share the island of Ireland “in peace and harmony”.

Sinn Fein has been calling for a border poll amid the political turbulence caused by Brexit and uncertainty over future arrangements.

Mr Martin’s new coalition government includes an all-island unit in the Department of the Taoiseach “to develop fresh thinking around that”.

“I want to inject greater greater momentum into the north-south dimension of the Good Friday Agreement, in terms of practical, pragmatic economic projects and activity that we can get under way,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“I think, to me, a border poll is far too divisive at this stage, it doesn’t deal with the more fundamental issue of how we continue to live and work together as we all live on this island, particularly in a post-Brexit scenario.”

He also said more detail is needed on arrangements following Brexit.

“I think there has been some progress in terms of a paper that the UK Government published, but we do need more detail, we need more precision.

“I think we need an injection of momentum into the overall talks between the European Union and the United Kingdom in relation to Brexit,” he said.

“I had a very fruitful discussion with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, after I took office. I think we both agreed that it’s in everybody’s interest, particularly in terms of businesses and giving them certainty, that we get a good comprehensive trade deal between the UK and European Union.

“Our concern is time is tight in relation to all of the mechanisms that have to be gone through in terms of getting the sanction and the approval of the EU member states and the European Parliament and our respective governments.”

The Taoiseach said he believes the European Court of Justice is just one of “a number of sticking points” in discussions.

He also said that it is too early for British holidaymakers to return to Ireland without being quarantined.

The Taoiseach said his Cabinet will discuss international travel further this week, including whether to strengthen resources at airports.

“We would be very cautious on international travel generally,” he said.

“On July 20 we will announce our measures in relation to international travel and essentially we have developed a methodology somewhat similar to the European Union and its relation with third countries; essentially, the methodology will be in relation to the level of the disease in particular countries, including the UK, countries that are at Ireland’s level or below.

“In terms of people coming in to Ireland, the advisory and the quarantining still remains and it’s under constant review. Why? Because there’s a lot of international volatility with this virus, we’ve seen a spike in numbers. We’re very concerned about that.”

Speaking on the same show, Mr Martin emphasised that his Government wants to take a cautious approach.

“The suppression of the virus is key. We’ve watched reports where, in certain parts of the UK, there are still difficulties where certain areas had to go into lockdown and so on, and further severe restrictions,” he said.

He described doing “everything we possibly can” to avoid a second spike of the virus in the Irish Republic where the reproductive rate of Covid-19 was found to have increased to one last week.

“Clearly the agenda for government is very much dominated by the continued prevalence of the virus and we’re watching very carefully what is happening across Europe in terms of spikes and in terms of experiences of other member states who have opened up earlier than we have,” he added.

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Source: Irish News