Mitchell plan for NI joint heads of state


FINE GAEL:FINE GAEL candidate for the presidency Gay Mitchell has proposed that Northern Ireland could have joint heads of state, Queen Elizabeth of England and the President of Ireland.

He made the suggestion in an interview with BBC radio earlier this year, part of which was rebroadcast yesterday.

Discussing a future role for the Irish presidency and UK monarchy in Northern Ireland, Mr Mitchell said: “What sort of thing could you do without diminishing the role of the President of Ireland under the Constitution?

“What could happen for example in Northern Ireland? Would it be possible to do what they do in Andorra and have joint heads of state in Northern Ireland in the context of a united Ireland?”

Mr Mitchell said that “ if we are really sincere about wanting to end partition, what sort of relations are we going to have with Britain”?

He was speaking in a clip replayed yesterday morning on BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequencereligion and current affairs programme.

The clip, broadcast during an item on the presidential election campaign in the Republic, was from a discussion Mr Mitchell had with Sinn Féin’s Danny Morrison following Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Ireland.

It was originally broadcast on May 22nd last. Mr Mitchell first declared an interest in seeking his party’s presidential nomination on June 10th last.

Andorra is a principality in the eastern Pyrenees and is bordered by Spain and France but it is not in the EU.

It has existed since 1278 and the role of head of state there is exercised jointly by two “co-princes”, the president of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the Catholic Bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, now Archbishop Joan Enric Vives i Sicília.

Andorra has a population of about 84,000, a quarter of whom live in Andorra la Vella, the highest capital city in Europe at 1,023m (3,356 ft).

Andorra declared war on Germany in the first World War and, while not actually going to war, remained in an official state of belligerence until 1957 as it was not party to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles.

The country’s army is unique in that all its soldiers are officers and their main responsibility is to raise the national flag.