Ex-Labour chief calls for London and Dublin to jointly run North

Brendan Halligan says time to consider John Hume’s ‘condominium’ proposal for NI

Brendan Halligan, chairman and  founder of the Institute of International and European Affairs: “Courage” required to implement the Hume proposal. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Brendan Halligan, chairman and founder of the Institute of International and European Affairs: “Courage” required to implement the Hume proposal. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The former Labour general secretary, TD and MEP Brendan Halligan has proposed that as a result of Brexit that Northern Ireland should adopt “condominium” status and be run jointly by the British and Irish governments.

Mr Halligan said the referendum decision to take Britain and Northern Ireland out of the European Union would have a “huge impact” on the communities in Northern Ireland and now was the time to resurrect the condominium idea proposed by former SDLP leader John Hume in the late 1970s.

Mr Halligan said his party opposed the idea at the time. But with the majority of people in Northern Ireland having voted to remain in the EU and the possibility of a “hard Border” because of Brexit it was time to reconsider the proposal.

Brexit aftermath

“I think it is time to take it out of the cupboard and brush it off and run with it. At the very least I think it is going to cause the Brits to think,” Mr Halligan told the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, on Wednesday.

Mr Halligan, who is chairman of the Institute of European and International Affairs, argued that in real if not legal terms Northern Ireland already was under the control of London and Dublin.

“The North of Ireland now is de facto a condominium, not de jure, but de facto. The task now for Irish governments is to turn something that is de facto into de jure,” he said.

Mr Halligan said he was also putting forward the idea in the context that after Brexit Scotland would “undoubtedly” vote to leave the UK.

He added that the Government must now look to Ireland’s interests in the wake of the UK referendum on the EU. Despite the uncertainty he believed something positive would emerge from the vote to leave the EU.

“This is the beginning of history for us. I think it presents us now with the opportunity to create the sort of Ireland that we would have done . . . had we been independent from the beginning. It will call for a great deal of courage,” he said.