Letter : Why Ireland needs more MEPs

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Framework Document is a shared understanding between the British and Irish governments. There is much emphasis upon parity of esteem within Northern Ireland, but with parity in the North, there must also be proportionality of representation in Ireland as a whole.

At present, the Republic of Ireland has 15 members of the European Parliament but Northern Ireland has three; in proportion to their population, the six counties of Northern Ireland therefore deserve (with or without devolution of powers from Westminster to the North and with or without devolution to Scotland) at least eight members of that Parliament.

Paragraph 26 of the Framework Document states: "Specific ar-rangements would need to be developed to apply to European Union matters." Since there would be, quite correctly, strong Union involvement in any cross- border body established in Ireland, the first "specific arrangement" should be for both governments to insist upon an increase to at least eight in the number of Northern Ireland MEPs. There is no excuse for a delay similar to the deplorable tardiness of Westminster in increasing from 12 the number of Northern Ireland MPs after the abolition of the Stormont Parliament in 1972.

If the increase in Northern Ireland MEPs can be obtained only by redistributing seats within the UK, then so be it: the redistribution will be a necessary consequence of the UK Parliament's persistent claim to undiminished authority within Northern Ireland under Section 75 of the Government of Ireland Act 1920, as emended by the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922.

Yours faithfully,

G. L. HUXLEY

Church Enstone,

Oxfordshire

The writer is a member of the Academia Europaea.

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