Two referendums would therefore have to be held: the first, an extra-constitutional referendum on the principle of reunification and the second to accept a constitutional amendment. This raises the question of whether two referendums should be held in the North. Then SDLP Vice President Seamus Mallon complained about what he saw as a closing seat for the Republican movement: “You can`t have a toe in the water and a toe.” The participants in the agreement were composed of two sovereign states (the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland), with armed forces and police forces involved in the riots. Two political parties, Sinn Féin and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), were linked to paramilitary organisations: the IRA (Commissional Irish Republican Army) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), associated with the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), had withdrawn from the talks three months earlier. These were the first releases of prisoners that almost dealt a fatal blow to the Yes campaign, as the release of Milltown Cemetery Killer Stone and the IRA`s Balcombe Street gang in the days leading up to the election seemed to pit public opinion against the agreement. The votes of the referendum were counted in a central location, so the result is not known for each constituency (although an exit poll revealed that only North Antrim had voted against). However, the turnout by constituency is available and contrasts with the other elections being held at about the same time: 20 All this shows some important features of the ongoing Irish border conundrum. First, it is not just an economic and commercial problem, but a highly political and constitutional one. A purely economic and technical solution to the economic dimension of the problem is, by its very nature, irrelevant. The second conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that the current problem at the Irish border is not a new issue, which would only be a consequence of the June 2016 Brexit referendum.
Although the decision taken by a majority of voters in the United Kingdom destabilizes the current regime of the soft Irish border on the island of Ireland, the main causes of the difficulties encountered with the Irish border lie in the weaknesses of the GFA itself. If there is a problem today with the Irish border, it is mainly because the GFA has not provided real and long-term political solutions to the historic dispute over the very status of the Irish division limit set between 1920 and 1925. The Brexit referendum itself is a sign that the Irish and British states have not yet defined the precise and agreed constitutional conditions of their common sovereignty over Northern Ireland. If so, the decision to hold the 2016 referendum, confirmed by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, shows that, in accordance with the British Constitution, the London Executive rightly regarded Northern Ireland as an integral part of British territory and not as an area of common sovereignty with Dublin. Despite the GFA, the British Constitution remains a strictly unionist constitution. With regard to Northern Ireland`s internal institutions, the situation following the Brexit referendum showed that despite an inter-communal majority of 56% for remains and despite a common interest in maintaining an open border, both communities still maintain their ancestral denominational views across the border.