The partition of Ireland has left border communities struggling under a lack of services both North and South, a Sinn Fein conference was told on Wednesday.
Party president Gerry Adams, vice-president Pat Doherty and chief negotiator Martin McGuinness were in Derry for the northwest launch of Sinn Fein’s vision of a united Ireland.
Mr Adams told delegates that partition had had “a disastrous impact” on border areas.
He said communities living along the border corridor were burdened by high unemployment, low educational achievement and substandard health provision.
“The northwest is the poorest area of the poorest regions.
“We would argue that we cannot understand these problems or seek to solve them unless we view them in the context of partition,” he said.
Mr Adams called on the Dublin government to produce a green paper aimed at achieving Irish unity.
“The Irish government has a responsibility to take the lead and develop a strategy for Irish self-determination. The British government should act as persuaders for Irish unity and there should be an ongoing engagement with unionist opinion,” he said.
The Sinn Fein president said the existence of the border had resulted in inefficiencies in essential services. Mr Adams called for a regional cross-border strategy for health, agriculture and education.
County Donegal has arguably suffered most, divided from its neighbours in Derry and Tyrone by partition as well as the rest of the 26 Counties by remoteness. Always neglected, historical papers have suggested the Dublin government planned to abandon the county in the event of a civil war in the North following a British withdrawal.
Sinn Fein Buncrana mayor Padraig Mac Lochlainn said partition had created serious economic and social problems in border areas.
“Partition has failed. There can be no prosperity in the border corridor area while partition remains.
“Sinn Fein, working with the people of Ireland, wants to change this reality.
“The reality of Sinn Fein in government at all levels throughout the island of Ireland will herald social justice, economic stability and growth through the all-Ireland economy and planned reintegration.
“We must work with the people of Ireland to ensure the continuing process of reintegration is an inclusive one that facilitates social equality.
“The adverse effects of partition are felt most acutely here, in the border corridor area itself,” he said.