Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) has voted to hold a preferendum on taking a stance on supporting the unity of Ireland. The motion was proposed by Naomi Walsh, Junior Sophister Psychology class representative, and seconded by Cornelious Lenthe, Junior Sophister BESS class representative.
The motion read: “Northern Ireland has never been closer to having a referendum. It’s fast becoming a student issue. Council mandates TCDSU to hold a preferendum to have a stance on the reunification of Ireland, with three options in the preferendum, these being neutrality, reunification or to oppose unification.”
Speaking on the motion, TCDSU President Kieran McNulty, said: “This is a divisive issue […] something that would be massive if the SU had a referendum on it.”
BESS student Conall Moran presented the issue as a discussion item before Council, arguing that in the post-Brexit political landscape, Republic and Northern Irish relations will become an increasingly student issue due to the potential implementation of a hard border.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May stated in a keynote speech in January that maintaining the Common Travel Area (CTA) between the two countries will be a priority in negotiations with the EU, according to the Irish Times. However, due to the uncertainty of the outcome of the UK’s negotiations with Europe it remains as a primary concern to Irish citizens both sides of the border.
An increase in student fees for Northern Irish students studying in the Republic of Ireland and the potential for decreased ease of travel, if the CTA is not upheld, were highlighted by Moran in his submission as key issues that the SU should consider given the substantial number of Northern Irish students currently in College.
He also mentioned Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s sentiments on the issue; speaking at MacGill summer school in November, Kenny expressed that a “border poll” should not be ruled out for the future: “If there is clear evidence of a majority of people wishing to leave the United Kingdom and join the Republic, that that should be catered for in the discussions.”