‘A Commission consisting of three Persons, one to be appointed by the Government of the Irish Free State, one to be appointed by the Government of Northern Ireland and one who shall be Chairman to be appointed by the British Government shall determine in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants, so far as may be compatible with economic and geographic conditions, the boundaries between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland.’ – Article 12 of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

The Border Poll

The only official referendum ever to be held on the Irish border was in 1973. On 8 March 1973, the electorate in Northern Ireland was asked whether they wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom or leave to join the Republic of Ireland (formerly the Irish Free State). The majority of nationalists boycotted the referendum. On a turnout of 58.7 percent, almost 99 percent voted to remain within the United Kingdom. Discussions about the future of the border have increased since the result of the United Kingdom referendum on whether to leave the European Union in 2016, leading to more calls for a border poll. Under the terms of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is responsible for ordering a border poll if it appears likely that a majority of the electorate would vote to leave the United Kingdom.