Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Queen’s University, Belfast this morning
At Queen’s University in Belfast.
Leo Varadkar gave a speech during his first official visit to Northern Ireland since becoming Taoiseach.
After giving a speech he agreed to take questions from the floor.
One woman (second from the right pictured above) asked Mr Varadkar:
“Taoiseach, on the topic of North/South relations, we know that students from the Republic of Ireland study here and vice versa. Students have a very proud history of advocating social justice issues, as seen in the marriage equality referendum on May 22, 2015 – something you are a strong advocate for north and south of the border and we thank you for your solidarity at Belfast Pride tomorrow.
“Recently you announced your intention to run various referenda over the next 18 months beginning in June or July. The referendum on the 8th amendment is especially pertinent for students north and south of the border.
“As we all know a high percentage of students travel or work abroad over the summer. Do you agree with us that, in order to fully engage students, this referendum should be held outside of the summer months?”
Mr Varadkar replied:
“Thanks very much. It’s a good question, I haven’t been asked that one yet. It is, we have a process that we’ve agreed involving a Citizens’ Assembly, involving a Oireachtas all-party parliamentary committee but what we’re planning for is a referendum probably May or June of next year.
“It’s not as straightforward as just having a referendum, we have to have wording legislation, a referendum commission and a campaign. So, if we don’t have it before the summer then it’ll probably not happen until the latter part of the year.
“So we haven’t set a date yet. We have had referendums in June before. I think the Good Friday Agreement was a June referendum, if I remember correctly. So was the Fiscal Treaty and we’ve had elections in June as well.
“But I definitely take the point and get the message that younger people would like to have the referendum happen at a time when they’re in the country so that they can fully participate. So we will absolutely take that into account in setting a date.”
Watch back in full here
Pic via Queen’s University