March for Irish Unity

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Tomorrow, Sunday November 24, a ‘March for Irish Unity’ is due to take place between Lifford in County Donegal and Strabane in County Tyrone.

Republicans of all shades are expected to converge on Strabane at the weekend for the first March for Irish Unity. Speakers will include well-known musician Frances Black as well as Irish language campaigners.

Several republican groups have previously joined in debates under the ‘Yes for Unity’ campaign banner, which is linked to the IRSP (Irish Republican Socialist Party).

With a broad section of Irish society now calling for a border poll, Sinn Féin has urged a Six County referendum on reunification to be held within five years. But the Dublin government has said it is “not a good idea” in the medium term. Tanaiste and Fine Gael deputy leader Simon Coveney was responding to a call made by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald at the party’s annual conference last weekend.

“I think calls for Border polls when we haven’t resolved the Brexit issues are not a good idea,” he said.

“I have said that many times, I think there is enough tension in Northern Ireland right now. There is enough polarisation between nationalists and unionists without adding calls for Border polls to be pulled into the middle of all that. We have enough to do to settle the issues relating to Brexit for Northern Ireland.”

But organisers say the parade this weekend, which thousands of people are expected to attend, is the start of an Ireland-wide movement that “cannot be stopped”.

Billed as an anti-sectarian, grassroots gathering, the parade has the backing of a number of republican groupings, including Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Socialist Party. Unionists have also been invited along to “discuss their place in a united Ireland”.

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Órfhlaith Begley said: “Partition has failed our people and prevented our entire island from reaching its true social, economic potential. Sinn Féin will be supporting the March for Irish Unity.”

Independent Strabane councillor Paul Gallagher said the parade would be a platform for the communities in the north-west of Ireland to express their desire for a united Ireland.

“It’s a non-party, non-political, non-sectarian, peaceful march,” he added.

The IRSP described it as a “mobilisation” which had has been the product of a year long engagement with the “broader Irish Unity Community” through public and private conversations and debates. They also urged socialists not to “marginalise or sideline ourselves”.

“Our class needs mainstream representation,” they said. “Irish Unity belongs to the people, we need to wrestle a United Ireland from the hands of the establishment gatekeepers and shape a future which works for everyone; economically, socially, politically and environmentally.”

The march begins at 1pm tomorrow [Sunday, November 24] at the Diamond, in Lifford, to conclude at Abercon Square in Strabane by 4pm.

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