This week it looks like Scotland will again decide if it wants to remain part of the United Kingdom.
What’s the betting that Northern Ireland is going to go even further and hold a referendum on uniting with Ireland? We’ll show you the odds and arguments for and against.
Why Are We even Asking This?
As with Scotland, it’s mostly about Brexit. Northern Ireland voted 56% to 44% to stay in the European Union.
So it follows that Brexit, especially a hard one, wouldn’t represent the wishes of Northern Ireland’s public.
Fortunately for Ulster it already shares a border with another country in the EU, and is the only part of the UK to do so.
Northern Ireland’s domestic politics remain extremely complex, and while there would be strong support for unity in some quarters there would be just as fierce opposition in others.
What Needs to Happen for There to Be a Referendum?
It used to be this simple. The Good Friday Agreement from 1998 states that if unity with Ireland is clearly backed in polls by a majority, the UK will set up a referendum.
But of course, if Northern Ireland ceases to be part of the United Kingdom it would be free to ask its citizens whether they want to join Ireland, whether or not a majority is in favour.
Yes, There Will Be a Referendum on a United Ireland (9/2)
Brexit could bring everything to a head.
The day after the Brexit vote in 2016 Sinn Féin, the largest nationalist party in the Northern Irish assembly, responded to the figures and called for a border poll.
Just like in Scotland it wouldn’t be very democratic for a region to be coerced into something that a big portion of its people opposes.
But a border poll wouldn’t necessarily mean a vote on a united Ireland, because that’s another matter entirely.
No, There Won’t Be a Referendum on a United Ireland (1/8)
The question is if a majority actually wants a united Ireland. The most recent polls, from 2014, showed that only 7.7% believed there should be a vote on a united Ireland.
That could change in the future, as a further 32.5% suggested they would vote “Yes” in such a referendum in 20 years time.
But right now, in the most peaceful period in recent memory it would be hard to think of a more potentially divisive vote than one on Irish unity.
Besides this, it doesn’t look like there’s an appetite for such a referendum, even if a vote to split from the UK might be a possibility in future.
So, Will there be a Referendum on a United Ireland?
At the moment the answer is a definite no. The risk of instability and reopening old wounds would surely make the assembly think twice.
But maybe you know something we don’t. And if so you can get your bets in with Paddy Power until Tuesday 31st October 2017.