Scottish referendum could lead to ‘instability’ in the North, says report

Government’s risk assessment also warns a British exit from the EU could impact relations between Ireland and Britain

Referendum risk to the North: Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond. Photograph: Reuters/Russell Cheyne

Referendum risk to the North: Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond. Photograph: Reuters/Russell Cheyne

Thu, Apr 17, 2014, 01:38


A Government assessment of risks facing the State has warned that the looming referendum on Scotland’s membership of the United Kingdom could lead to an “element of instability” in Northern Ireland.

Although there is no detailed examination of the matter in a draft National Risk Assessment report, the reference to the September referendum stands as a rare public acknowledgement by the Government that the poll could have adverse implications for Ireland.

“The outcome of the Scottish referendum on independence could introduce an element of instability into Northern Ireland,” it said.

The Government’s usual stance on the referendum is to say the question is a matter for the Scottish people only. It typically avoids entering detailed debate on implications for Ireland should Scotland leave the UK.


British exit from EU
The risk assessment document, published last night, also warns that a British exit from the EU could have an adverse impact on relations between Ireland and Britain. “If the so-called ‘Brexit’ option is taken, it could introduce profound uncertainty into Anglo-Irish relations.”

The publication of the risk report is part of an effort to identify financial and non- financial risks to the State so prevention and mitigation measures can be introduced.

The 16-page document identifies a series of economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological risks, but it says each risk is being addressed through policies and actions in Government departments and agencies.

On economic matters, the document identifies risks related to debt sustainability, weaker than expected economic growth, a re-emergence of the euro-zone debt crisis, vulnerabilities in the banking system and the importance of multinationals in Ireland.