Government satisfied with take-no-sides stance on referendum

Neutral during the campaign, Kenny says he respects the democratic decision

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: would now look at changes likely to take place following the referendum. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: would now look at changes likely to take place following the referendum. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Relief was the prevailing sentiment among Government politicians in Dublin at the decision of the Scottish people to vote against independence.

During the referendum campaign, the Government had studiously avoided making any comment that could be construed as support for either the Yes or No sides. But there was no disguising the sense of relief yesterday that Scotland will not be leaving the United Kingdom.

A major concern for the Government was the implications for Northern Ireland of a Scottish decision to leave the UK.

At a time when the devolved administration in Northern Ireland is already facing serious problems, the potential of Scottish independence to add to the instability was a serious concern.

With Sinn Féin stepping up its campaign, North and South, for a united Ireland, there were fears that a break-up of the UK would have played into its hands and fostered further uncertainty about the future of the power-sharing Stormont executive.

There were also fears in Dublin that a Scottish No to the UK would have encouraged a British No to the European Union, in the likely event of a referendum on the issue following the next British general election.

EU question

The public response of the Government to the Scottish decision was cautious, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny saying that he respected the democratic decision that Scotland should remain as part of the United Kingdom.

Kenny said attention would now turn to the changes likely to take place following the referendum, particularly in terms of devolution of powers, and this process will be closely followed in Ireland.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan echoed the Taoiseach’s remarks, saying the Belfast Agreement set as a key objective the promotion of harmonious and mutually beneficial relationships among the peoples of the two islands.

By contrast, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams emphasised the fact that the Belfast Agreement provided for a poll on the future of the Border between North and South.

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