In Brief

How will Brexit affect Eire and Northern Ireland?

Sinn Fein calls for a referendum on reuniting Ireland – but Theresa Villiers quashes the idea

"Short of the outbreak of war," it is hard to imagine anything worse for Ireland than the news that the UK is to leave the EU, says the Irish Times.

So how will Brexit affect Ireland – and the only part of the UK to share a land border with an EU country, Northern Ireland?

How did Northern Ireland vote?

Like the population of Scotland, people in Northern Ireland chose to stay within the UK. Some 55.8 per cent voted Remain, slightly less than the 62 per cent of Scots. Wales joined England in voting Leave.

Could Northern Ireland leave the UK?

First Minister Arlene Foster, who campaigned to leave the EU, insisted this morning that the country would stay within the UK, despite the Brexit result. Howevr, her deputy, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein, called for a national referendum on reunification.

Might there be a 'border poll'?

The Good Friday Agreement provides for the holding of a referendum to determine whether the people of Northern Ireland want to remain part of the UK or join the Republic of Ireland. But Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said the referendum could only happen if Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers felt there had been a "seismic shift in public opinion", reports UTV.

Villiers poured cold water on Sinn Fein's challenge, saying there is "no reason to believe there would be a majority support for a united Ireland".

How will Brexit affect peace?

"Central to the Northern Ireland peace settlement was a slow but inexorable process of making the border less important," says the Irish Times. "Now it is about to get more important."

The paper says a "delicate" resetting of the relationship between Ireland, Britain and Northern Ireland will be needed to ensure Brexit does not threaten the peace process.

South of the border, "it is hard to see how the ultimate effects will be anything other than overwhelmingly negative", it adds.

What about trade?

Ireland's two biggest political and trading partners, the EU and the UK, are "sundered in a manner as yet unknowable", says the Irish Times. Whatever happens, for the republic, the immediate future will be a "period of difficulty and uncertainty unprecedented in the last 50 years" and "more destabilising" than the Troubles, it adds.

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