Demands grow for action on unity

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Calls for Irish self-determination and Scottish independence look set to grow amid the meltdown of Boris Johnson’s administration in London. Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan Matt Carthy called on the Tory government to now “clarify the criteria” for an Irish unity poll.

His comments followed remarks by 26 County Tánaiste Leo Varadkar who said an Irish border poll would “not be appropriate or right” at this time.

In the Assembly election in May, parties supporting a united Ireland outpolled unionist parties in a Six County election for the first time. However, Varadkar insisted the conditions for a border poll have not yet been met.

British Direct Ruler Brandon Lewis has also refused to say what conditions, if any, Britain would allow a referendum on Irish reunification.

Mr Carthy said that the absence of clarity must not prevent political leaders from planning for the referendum and the transition towards unity.

“A united Ireland can be a huge benefit to all the people of Ireland economically, socially and politically,” Mr Carthy said.

“Across the island, growing and exciting conversations are taking place about the positive changes Irish unity would bring to all communities. As such it is incumbent on political leaders to plan for it and work for it.

“Politicians sticking their head in the sand on this important issue helps no-one and is only irresponsible. Through respectful conversations now, we can discuss the detail of how Irish unity can be delivered in a way that is inclusive. Together, we can work for a new Ireland, which has fairness, equality and inclusion at its heart. We can deliver high quality public services and unite our communities.

“Sinn Féin want to deliver a united Ireland that is better and fairer for everyone. We hope that Leo Varadkar and other political leaders will join us in that endeavour rather than attempt to frustrate or delay the conversation. The time to prepare for Irish unity is now.”

Sinn Féin Chairperson Declan Kearney called for the immediate establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly on Irish unity.

He condemned the remarks of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD as “abjectly lacking in ambition and politically weak.

“There is a responsibility on the Irish government to plan for constitutional change on this island, and that should start with the establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly to discuss for the future without any further delay.

“Recent elections north and south have shown that the appetite for change and a new Ireland has never been stronger. That reality cannot be ignored.

“Irish government ministers need to be a persuaders for a new Ireland, based on the will of the people, and to lead orderly preparations for unity referendums, north and south. This government should not be burying its head in the sand. Leadership needs to be demonstrated.

“This is a time for the Irish government to have ambition, and start developing a road map for an agreed, prosperous united Ireland. Partition has failed all our people. Political leaders should be engaged in visionary thinking and developing positive opportunities, rather than seeking to limit and reduce citizen’s aspirations.

“Brexit, the failures and reckless approach of the Tory government in London has become a huge catalyst for change in recent years. It is undeniable that a widespread popular discourse on a new constitutional future for Ireland has begun.

“The Irish government should be focused on catching up with that popular momentum. It needs to embrace a new approach. It should start the process of planning the transition to Irish unity, and use its formidable resources nationally, and internationally to place the constitutional future of our country at the centre of its diplomatic mission.”

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