Moving towards a United Ireland – By Matt Carthy MEP

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I, as everyone in politics professes, don’t get excited by opinion polls.

The  insights emerging from this week’s Lucid Talk survey of public opinion in the North of Ireland were fascinating in a number of respects.

The poll clearly confirmed that we are moving towards A United Ireland.

Firstly, the poll shows a clear majority of people in the North now favour holding a referendum on a united Ireland.

A majority also believe that 50% plus 1 should be the baseline for reunification, which is hardly surprising as this is a clear provision of the Good Friday Agreement.

It is disappointing that the recent remarks from An Taoiseach resulted in this question even having to be asked.

However, we should not have things so close to 50%. Advocates of a United Ireland should be committed to securing the largest possible majority for that proposition.  The Lucid Talk poll also shows that we have work yet to do.

All of us who favour a united Ireland, should work together with the common objective of convincing the greatest possible number of people across Ireland that it is in their best interest.

The evidence is there that economically, politically and socially Irish unity is both the progressive and sensible option. We have to disseminate that evidence. And let us convince those who think otherwise that they have, nevertheless, nothing to fear from the outcome of a unity referendum.

That is what Sinn Féin is seeking to do.

It is clear also from the Lucid Talk poll that Brexit will continue to influence attitudes toward the constitutional question and will lead to increased support for Irish unity as the negative implications of Brexit become clearer.

In short, Brexit has created an entirely new dynamic for the construction of a United Ireland and has accelerated the prospects of national unity.

The illogicality of having one part of this island inside the EU and another outside it, is understood by almost everyone.

After decades of lecturing republicans about ‘the principle of consent’ the refusal of the British Conservative Government to respect the expressed will of a majority of voters in the Six Counties is lost on nobody either.

The prospect of the North being removed from the EU against the will of its people, and a possible return to border checkpoints and customs posts has brought the issue of Irish Unity firmly back onto the political agenda.

Of course, the only poll that will matter is an actual referendum on the issue.

But politics on this island, and arguably across the world, are now in flux.

Increasingly people realise that it makes no sense to have two economies, two education systems, two health systems, two tax codes, two currencies on one small island.

There is a growing recognition of the economic sense of an all-island economy with joined-up agriculture and health sectors, to name just two.

This week’s poll is just the latest piece of evidence that the political landscape in the North is changing.

More and more people from all walks of life now accept the need to look at the creation of new constitutional and political structures that better serve the interests of all our people.

In this regard, by far the most telling aspect of the Lucid poll is the finding that a clear majority of voters under the age of 44 firmly support a united Ireland. This points to the direction of travel for the future and underlines the need for preparation to start now for a united Ireland.

There is a clear and urgent need for an inclusive, constructive debate on the future and on what a United Ireland might look like.

It is time now for the Irish Government to encourage and lead an informed, reasoned and respectful public dialogue on this issue.

It is also time that the Government prepared a realistic plan for Irish reunification, including the establishment of an Oireachtas all-party group to bring forward a Green Paper for Irish reunification.

Constitutional change is now in the hands of the people of Ireland, North and South.

Now is the time for all parties who support Irish unity to come together to design the pathway to a new, agreed, inclusive united Ireland.

Securing a referendum on Irish unity would be a momentous and historic opportunity for all the people of Ireland, allowing us to vote for the kind of country and society we wish to see.

Sinn Féin has been seeking to promote constructive dialogue on the issue through a series of conferences and public engagements entitled Towards a United Ireland.

This series will see us host conferences in Cork and London next spring.

As with our previous events in Dublin and Belfast, we will seek to bring an array of opinions together so that we can build upon what we agree on as opposed to what divides us.

Because we now have a unique opportunity to build a future beyond partition, sectarianism and division.

It is a historic opportunity to build a society that serves the interests of all the people who share this island. We should seize it.

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  1. “In this regard, by far the most telling aspect of the Lucid poll is the finding that a clear majority of voters under the age of 44 firmly support a united Ireland.”

    No rush, there are 771,000 people over 44
    15,400 a year die in NI, but not all are over 44.
    So it will be 50 years + before that kicks in assuming that trend continues.

    • Hahaha… unless your comment was an attempt to fool yourself that unity is not an impending reality while conveniently ignoring ,1 the fact that not all of the 771k , possibly not even half , are against unity ,2 ..the fact that every year which comes our way brings more nationalists than loyalists offspring onto the electoral register .I am sorry to inform you your atempt at logical projection does not stand up to scrutiny…in short the candle of unionism is burning at both ends and will extinguish itself sooner rather than latter .

  2. @A Dmin even using your rough figures you would only need half that time as when half of the over 55s have died you will also have half that amount coming in as new younger pro UI voters. With Brexit I’d say 10 to 15 years or maybe 20 max.

  3. Peadar Ó Gríofa on

    Re-unification must be by the consent of an overwhelming majority. Yes I know the 50+1 issue – but a united Ireland must be created and developed for “Protestant, Catholic & Dissenter” not just by a “head-count” but also by what is in those heads. Given the issues of dishonesty and inefficiency in the Republic in Banking, in An Garda, in Health, Education, Tax returns, and more, the input from the new citizens of the Republic will be essential and vital. For example, Northern & Southern Protestants generally adopt superior ethics in their business dealings. A 32 county republic must seize the opportunity when it arrives to become a world beacon
    in its legislatures and governance, in honest dealing, in equality for all its citizens and in playing a vital part internationally in how to save this planet for our future generations.

  4. SF has made a poor job of convincing Unionists.The military campaign was not a good start. That aside, where are their seductive arguments? Where are the detailed, worked out, costed position papers? Fifty years ago my father said there would be a united Ireland in 50 years. It has not happened and the prospect is no closer. ‘Not an inch’ is alive and well.Those who place their hopes on a young generation are overlooking the fact that the young become middle-aged. Once they begin to rear families, educate children, cope with serious illnesses, the stark realities kick in. SF has not addressed those realities in the context of a united Ireland. Instead they offer a vague dream. It is a hopeless illusion.

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