herald

Monday 17 December 2018

Taoiseach says Ireland will scrutinise implications of Scotland's historic 'no' vote

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has said Ireland will closely follow the devolution of powers to Scotland following the historic decision by that nation to vote against leaving the United Kingdom.

His comments came after Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan earlier admitted that the No vote and its implications posed "interesting challenges" for Ireland.

Today's final tally saw 2,001,926 (55.3pc) of Scottish people vote against independence while 1,617,989 (44.7pc) voted in favour.

London has promised to devolve further powers to the Scottish parliament following the vote, and similar plans are afoot for Wales and Northern Ireland.

This could have knock-on effects for Ireland, with further economic competition in important areas such as tax rates and attracting foreign direct investment.

"We are committed to deepening and strengthening the already close relationships across these islands," Mr Kenny said this morning.

"Attention will now turn to the changes likely to take place following the referendum, particularly in terms of devolution of powers.

" This process will be closely followed in Ireland."

respect

Mr Kenny said Ireland's commitment to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and to partnership, equality and mutual respect today stands more firm than ever.

"The people of Scotland have spoken. We respect their democratic decision that Scotland should remain as part of the United Kingdom," he said.

"The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 is the historic template for harmonious and mutually-beneficial development of the totality of relationships among the peoples of these islands.

"In particular, it has led to a transformation in relationships between the two great traditions on this island."

Early this morning, Mr Flanagan said there would be changes following the outcome of the independence referendum.

"Trade between Ireland and Britain has never been stronger," he said, speaking on RTE radio.

"Obviously there will be implications for Northern Ireland. We are awaiting an announcement by Prime Minister Cameron in relation to the corporation tax.

"There will of course be some changes. It may have implications for Ireland and indeed for others.

"We will continue to remain in very close contact with our colleagues in London and in Edinburgh as this work continues and indeed as the changes unfold."

Mr Flanagan said it was an "electrifying campaign" over the last three years.

He said that although we were a neutral neighbour in the debate, we were still very interested in it.

Mr Flanagan declined to comment on whether the outcome was one he had wanted, stressing that Ireland was neutral.

He said that when it comes to attracting big companies to Ireland, in the context of more devolved British countries the threat could also be seen as an opportunity.

"Over the past number of years we have seen the greatly improved trade links between our two respective islands," he said.

disappointed

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the remarkably-high turnout for yesterday's historic vote proved what a lively issue independence was.

"I think the big thing to say is that the union has changed, it's no longer fixed, it's no longer static," he said.

Mr Adams said that on a personal level, as a person who believes in self-determination, he was disappointed by the result.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, who led the campaign for the country's independence, has already been vocal in calling for the opposing side to honour its promises for greater devolution of power.

Those promises were seen by Mr Salmond's Scottish National Party (SNP) as a knee-jerk reaction to the huge momentum they had gained.

Prime minister David Cameron has said draft legislation granting new powers to Scotland would be completed by January.

He also confirmed that there were proposals to give the Welsh government and assembly more powers.

"In Northern Ireland, we must work to ensure the devolved institutions function effectively," he said.

lbyrne@herald.ie

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