Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has called for the campaign for a united Ireland to be stepped up.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he is not in favour of a border poll for a united Ireland, saying last month that it would be “divisive”.
Mr Doherty has said the time is right to prepare for Irish unity and called on the Dublin government to actively get involved in the campaign to secure and win an Irish unity referendum.
Delivering at address at Sinn Fein’s annual Hunger Strike Commemoration, which was held online this year, Mr Doherty said: “Now is the time to step up the campaign for Irish unity.”
He said the 10 men who died on hunger strike in Long Kesh in 1981, as well as republicans who died on hunger strike in previous years, “continue to be held in the highest esteem by republicans everywhere”.
“The Good Friday Agreement, voted for by the people, contains provision for a referendum on Irish unity. Securing that referendum should now be the shared goal of everyone who supports the reunification of this island and its people.
“The discussion on Irish unity is already well under way across the island. Republicans and others who support unity are talking about what Irish unity will look like and how to secure it.
“Even those currently opposed to reunification are talking about it and considering what their place in a united Ireland would be.
“So it simply doesn’t make any sense for those who claim that the time is not right.”
“The conversation has begun. There is a role for everyone in that discussion and I’m calling on as many people as possible to get involved.
“In particular, the Irish government has a key role to play. As a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, the Irish government has a responsibility to ensure its full implementation.
“We need to see this new Irish government actively planning for unity. Warm words won’t secure or win a referendum.
“The Irish government needs to establish a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Unity, bring forward a White Paper, and convene a Citizens’ Assembly inclusive of the entire island to discuss and plan for reunification,” he said.
The DUP First Minister Arlene Foster said on Friday that she thinks people living in the north of Ireland would not vote for a united Ireland.
Speaking at the first meeting of the ‘North-South Ministerial Council’ meeting in almost four years, she said: “I have to say everyone knows my position in relation a border poll. If it was called today, of course people would vote to remain in the United Kingdom.”
Ministers of the Stormont Executive and the Dublin government took part in the meeting of the body, which was set up under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The meeting discussed a number of issues including the coronavirus and Brexit, and was described as “constructive” and “useful” by participants.
Although it didn’t deliver an agreement, Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill said that it was good for both administrations to meet again after such a long time. “I’m delighted that we have paved the way for more meetings to take place in the years ahead,” she said.