Dublin and London are under pressure to act after Australia’s governing political party passed a motion at its national conference strongly supporting the reunification of Ireland and the calling of a referendum on Irish unity.
The Australian Labor Party, which has held a majority government in Canberra since May 2022, approved a motion at the party’s conference last weekend which has now been adopted as policy. It includes the following text:
“The partition of Ireland has produced a century of division and conflict that has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives. The time has come to end the injustices of partition and for the right of all the people of Ireland to democratically decide their own future. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 provides for such a democratic resolution; and
“This National Conference of the ALP calls on the British and Irish governments to honour the terms of the Good Friday Agreement to allow all the people of Ireland to democratically decide their future in the spirit of freedom and justice.”
Sinn Féin TD and party spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Matt Carthy said the move reflects the deep bonds between Ireland and Australia. He described it as a very positive step which reflects the “growing interest both nationally and internationally in the benefits that Irish unity will bring to people across the island”.
Mr. Carthy said that the Australian government’s support constitutes a significant intervention. He and fellow Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty recently engaged with various Irish-Australian business and political groups.
“Just as international support was crucial in delivering the peace process so too will be be crucial in making Irish Unity a success for everyone on this island,” he said in a statement.
He added that it is undeniable that discussions surrounding the concept of Irish reunification are gaining momentum, and he called upon the Dublin government to take action immediately and commence preparations for constitutional change.
“Neglecting to plan or engage in these discussions benefits no one,” he added.
The most recent opinion polls reveal that support for Irish reunification is steadily growing on both sides of the border. Britain’s poor track record in upholding its international treaty obligations has cast doubt on its commitment to holding a border poll. Nevertheless, Sinn Féin hopes that international pressure can alter this situation.
Kevin Meagher, author and former special adviser at Britain’s ‘Northern Ireland Office’ remarked that the Australian development illustrates the international significance of the issue.
He noted that it was “very telling” that the motion called on the governments of Dublin and London to uphold the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
“What that means is that often this concept of a border poll is often seen as a little bit of a bolt on to to the Good Friday Agreement,” he saod.
“[This] is recognising that it’s absolutely fundamental to the agreement; it’s baked right in there, it can’t be a question that’s put off.”