Former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has told a committee of the Dublin parliament that the failure to plan for a united Ireland “beggars belief”.
Mr Adams was appearing before the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement Committee this week.
He said that Taoiseach Micheál Martin had “missed his chance” to hold a citizens’ assembly on the matter and it is now up to incoming taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
The committee also heard that crucial elements of the Good Friday Agreement remained to be implemented almost 25 years on from it being signed.
Mr Adams was openly critical of successive Tory governments in Britain, accusing them of “emasculating” human rights in the North.
“I think it’s fairly obvious to everyone that this Tory government and recent Tory governments have no real investment in the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.
Mr Adams was highly critical of the 26 County government, describing its lack of action on preparing for a border poll as “incredibly short-sighted”.
“No Irish government, to this day, has produced a strategy to build a new and inclusive Ireland and give effect to Irish unity,” he told TDs and senators.
“Now there’s a mechanism to achieve this. The absence of Irish government planning is indefensible. It’s incredibly short-sighted.”
He called on the coalition government to establish “a citizens’ assembly or a series of such assemblies” and then set a date for a referendum on the future, saying it “makes sense”.
“Very few countries get a chance to begin anew… Most leaders with a vision for the future would carefully and diligently seize the opportunity, but not here,” Mr Adams said.
“Political parties which have enjoyed being in power in the State since partition don’t want to give up this power.
“That’s why our outgoing Taoiseach Micheál Martin refuses to establish a citizens’ assembly to plan for the future.”
Mr Adams’s call came after Scotland’s ruling SNP announced it is holding a special conference to discuss and decide the way forward to secure independence.
The ‘Democracy Scotland’ Conference in Edinburgh in March will set out a pathway to Scotland being able to express their view on the nation’s constitutional future, according to Scottish Ministers.
But the Dublin government has no plans for Irish unity, despite the strong possibility of a border poll on reunification being called in the near future.
Mr Adams told committee members: “It just beggars belief… the main thing is that nobody wants, we certainly don’t want, a referendum just declared out of the blue.”
Mr Adams added: “It’s just a no-brainer that there should be a citizens’ assembly. And that challenge will now be for Leo Varadkar. Micheál (Martin) has missed his chance.”