Referendum majorities


Sir, – Paul Delaney considers the 55 per cent to 45 per cent result of the 2014 Scottish referendum to be “decisive” (Letters, April 17th), while the Irish Times editorial (April 15th) considers it to be “narrow”.

This raises the significant question of what constitutes a decisive result and whether this should be required for referendums that change a country fundamentally.

Brexit and Catalonia show that the “50 per cent plus one” approach, which Sinn Féin regards as a sufficient condition for a united Ireland, can lead to bitter division.

A case can be made for requiring a greater margin in such referendums, perhaps 60 per cent of the votes cast, or 50 per cent of the voting population. If such a decisive margin were required, the result would be more likely to accepted by the minority.

The downside of this approach is that fundamental change becomes more difficult, but perhaps that is a price worth paying? – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.