Should a Super-Majority be Required for a United Ireland Referendum?

Britain’s Northern Ireland minister, Steve Baker, recently expressed his belief that a super-majority of voters should be required for a united Ireland referendum. Drawing on his experience during the UK’s Brexit campaign, Baker regretted that the referendum did not demand the support of 60% of voters. In his opinion, had this been the case, the UK would not have left the European Union.

Baker argued that if the campaign to leave the EU had succeeded with a super-majority requirement, it would have ensured acceptance by a significant portion of the population. He posed the question to his audience, asking if they believed a simple majority should determine the outcome of a united Ireland referendum in Northern Ireland. Reflecting on the challenges faced during the UK’s 50%+1 Brexit referendum, he emphasized the need to learn from past experiences.

During the meeting in Co Kildare, Baker faced criticism from Irish members of the assembly regarding the British government’s legacy legislation. Despite the negative reception, he urged the Irish Government, Northern Ireland’s political parties, and others to give Peter Sheridan, the appointed legacy commissioner, a chance to demonstrate the new body’s ability to provide closure for the victims of the Troubles.

The controversial legacy legislation has raised concerns and led to questions about the Irish Government challenging it before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. While acknowledging the criticism, Baker emphasized that the British government would not start anew on the legacy legislation. Instead, he acknowledged the uphill battle that the legacy commission would face in convincing people that it can deliver justice to affected families.

The families of those who lost loved ones during the Troubles expressed their distress over the British legislation. Many of them feel retraumatized and are on the verge of giving up. It is crucial to address their concerns and ensure that any future decisions regarding a united Ireland are made with careful consideration and inclusivity.


Q: Why does Steve Baker believe a super-majority should be required for a united Ireland referendum?

A: Steve Baker bases his belief on his experience during the UK’s Brexit campaign. He believes that if a super-majority had been required in the Brexit referendum, the UK may not have left the EU.

Q: What challenges did the UK face during the Brexit referendum?

A: The Brexit referendum faced challenges due to its narrow requirement of a simple majority (50%+1). This led to divisions and difficulties in managing the consequences of Brexit.

Q: Why is the legacy legislation facing criticism?

A: The legacy legislation implemented by the British government has raised concerns among the Irish members of the assembly. They argue that it retraumatizes families who lost loved ones during the Troubles.

Q: Will the British government reconsider the legacy legislation?

A: Steve Baker, speaking on behalf of the British government, stated that they would not start afresh on the legacy legislation. However, he encourages giving the legacy commission a chance to address the concerns of affected families.