A Seanad committee is to open a public consultation on the constitutional future of the Island of Ireland. The committee will also hold three days of public hearings to take place in autumn 2022.
The purpose of the public consultation is to invite submissions to consider the constitutional future of the Island of Ireland. The committee said it would accept submissions from “the general public, organisations or any interested parties” and that the views of young people “from throughout the island on this issue will be listened to, including the voice of all Communities and traditions in Northern Ireland on their vision for the future”.
It also invited views on the criteria for a referendum on a united Ireland and “lessons from other referendums here and in other jurisdictions”. Under the Belfast Agreement, a referendum on Irish unity can only be held in Northern Ireland if the British secretary of state decides to do so. The agreement lays down no criteria for the referendum except that it should be seen as likely to the secretary of state that it should pass.
The Seanad committee has said it would like to hear “what are the societal and economic opportunities and challenges that should be considered, such as: all island healthcare, housing, education, economy, climate change, biodiversity, culture and language, reconciliation, etc, including issues such as the question of the subvention to Northern Ireland”.
Written submissions to the committee must be made by 5th September 2022. Thereafter, the committee may invite people and groups who have made submissions to three days of public consultations to be held in the Seanad chamber on three Fridays, beginning on 30th September.
The committee has expressed its intention to make efforts at “outreach to unionists” by inviting groups and parties to make submissions and appear at the hearings. A report including findings and recommendations will be published and made publically available at the end of the public consultation process.