Ireland's Tricolour, national anthem and title of 'Taoiseach' will all be under threat if Irish Unity referendum passes
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Ireland's Tricolour, national anthem and title of 'Taoiseach' will all be under threat if Irish Unity referendum passes

IRELAND may struggle to retain its flag, national anthem and even the titles of 'Taoiseach' and 'Tánaiste' if Irish reunification is achieved, Leo Varadkar claims.

The Fine Gael leader, who has opposed calls for a United Ireland referendum in the past, says that much of the Republic of Ireland's identity will be on the table if the vote ever passes.

His warnings come amid news that RTÉ will air a programme on Monday night on the issue of potential Irish reunification and the implications for people north and south of the border.

Speaking about the programme, Varadkar said he hopes things like the Tricolour or the use of Amhrán na bhFiann could continue under a united Ireland but "those are the things we'd have to talk about changing and we have to have that conversation."

"For example, the title Tánaiste, or the title Taoiseach. These are the titles of Gaelic chieftains. Is that really appropriate in a unified island where a million people are British?"

He also stressed that a united Ireland's relationship to the UK would have to be a lot more solid than it currently is.

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Sinn Féin, and its leader Mary Lou McDonald, have repeatedly called for a date on a border poll to be set, but Mr Varadkar disagrees.

He said that a date for a border poll should not be set before the exact makeup of how everything would work moving forward was ironed out, citing the Brexit vote as an example of how not to do things.

Setting a date, Varadkar argued, would mean the campaign for the border poll would start immediately and would lead to people being polarised.

"There's one pathway and that is to set a date for a border poll, and I think if that was done, the campaign would almost begin right away. It will be divisive. People would probably break down on traditional lines in Northern Ireland," he said.

"It may well be defeated, and a bit like the Brexit referendum, we'd have that vote without taking time to consider what it would actually mean."