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Northern Ireland Offers Its Services To Gibraltar

by Amanda Banks, Tax-News.com, London

25 October 2002


The Panorama news service revealed this week that following the earlier advances of Conservative MEPs in the South West of England and the West Midlands, a third area of the United Kingdom has offered to annex the Rock for the purposes of voting in the European Parliamentary elections - Northern Ireland.

Gibraltar won the right to vote in the EU Parliamentary elections next year, after a hard-won fight in the European Court. However, as the voting population of Gibraltar is too small to warrant an MEP of its own, it was decided that the jurisdiction should be 'attached' to a region of the United Kingdom for electoral purposes.

Speaking earlier this week, Lord Kilclooney (formerly Ulster Unionist MP, John Taylor) put forward Northern Ireland's claim, arguing that the large number of Gibraltarian citizens evacuated to the province during the Second World War created a close bond between the two regions.

'Many people in the 60-year-old bracket were born in Northern Ireland,' Lord Kilcooney told Radio Four's Today Programme. 'Gibraltarians would feel lost in a large metropolitan constituency in England, but I feel they would be happy in a rural constituency like Northern Ireland.'

He added: 'We have similar problems with our relationship with Her Majesty's Government, [in] the fact that we have a neighbour who would like to take us over.'

Panorama also reported that legislation designed to allow the vote to go ahead is likely to be mentioned in the Queen's Speech this year.

Prime Minister, Tony Blair is understood to have turned the question of which UK constituency Gibraltar should be joined with over to the independent Electoral Commission.


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