Una Mullally: Why Brexit Britain should look to Ireland for lessons in democracy

Polarised referendum campaigns have ended up as forces for unity in Ireland

Hundreds of thousands members of the public have marched through central London to demand a second Brexit referendum. Video: Reuters

In the votes on marriage equality and abortion in 2015 and 2018 in Ireland, we built movements before the referendums. In Britain, they’re trying to build a movement after a referendum. That is not an easy thing to do.

As the Brexit disaster rumbles on, it would be useful for the UK to look to Ireland for lessons in democracy and public discussion on divisive issues. If we managed to chart a course through two issues that are said to be polarising, and in the end actually acted as forces for unity, how can the UK do the same? Brexit is an absolute calamity, but the destruction it is causing and will continue to cause is not irreparable. As European Council president Donald Tusk said in a different context last week, hope dies last.

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